How do I Become a Forklift Operator?

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  • Written By: M.C. Huguelet
  • Edited By: Heather Bailey
  • Last Modified Date: 18 October 2018
  • Copyright Protected:
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Forklift operators use a forklift to move materials safely and efficiently. They often work in an environment such as a warehouse, where large quantities of stock must be regularly loaded onto or unloaded from a cargo vehicle or vessel. If you would like to become a forklift operator, you must be willing to complete operator’s training and maintain up-to-date certification. As the job can be physically demanding, you must also demonstrate adequate levels of fitness and agility.

There are no formal educational qualifications required to become a forklift operator, but many employers prefer to hire candidates who have earned a high school diploma or its equivalent. The operator may handle order forms and other paperwork, and in some cases might be required to use a computerized inventory system. Thus, literacy as well as basic computer skills are desirable.

In the US, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requires all employers to ensure that their forklift operators have received training in safe operating procedures. This measure is intended to reduce accidents in the workplace and promote the well being of the operator as well as his fellow employees. Thus, if you wish to become a forklift operator you must successfully complete a training program. This course may be offered by your employer as part of an on-the-job training program or it may be completed independently through an accredited occupational training institute.


Training typically begins with classroom hours, in which operator candidates attend lectures and watch videos that demonstrate safe driving techniques and outline potential workplace hazards. Once this segment of the course has been completed, candidates advance to practical training. During this period, they practice operating a forklift under the supervision of an instructor, who constructively critiques their performance.

After an operator candidate has satisfactorily completed training, he is issued certification. In keeping with OSHA regulations, this certification must be renewed every three years. To be approved for renewal, the operator and his performance must be evaluated by his employer.

If you wish to become a forklift operator, you should also note that the job can be physically demanding. Operators must have sufficient agility to climb onto and off of their forklifts easily, as well as drive in reverse comfortably. In some cases, the operator may be required to physically load or unload pallets. Therefore, you should make sure you are fit enough to meet the physical challenges of the job.



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