Wondering how to become a forklift operator? As a mechanical job closely tied to logistics and storage, working as a forklift operator takes a blend of skills, experience and education, especially if you want to excel and build a career.
To help you learn everything you need to know about how to become a forklift operator, we’ve built a list outlining what the process usually looks like, what additional skills might benefit you and what sort of path you can follow once you’ve secured the job.
How To Become A Forklift Operator: Basic Standards And OSHA
Since forklift operating is considered a hazardous job, you’ll need to be at least 18 years old to qualify for most positions. The list of associated OSHA standards is also quite lengthily due to the dangers of the job, and you’ll find employers usually require a high school diploma or GED for the position.
If you can get experience with other vehicles or logistics operations, you’ll find it a lot easier to move into a forklift operation. Taking courses to acquire basic working knowledge of forklifts will also help an employer take you seriously and give you the hands-on equipment training you need.
Employer Provided Training and Evaluation
This is the real key to becoming a forklift operator as most your practical training will be offered by the employer hiring you. This means it can be far easier to obtain your forklift operator role if you’re already employed by a company using forklifts. Once you’ve been trained, it’s the responsibility of your employer to certify you under OSHA standards. Re-certification happens every few years after that to confirm your skills and adherence of the rules.
As many forklift operator positions take place in factories or warehouses involving hazardous materials, there are frequently secondary requirements and certifications for these positions. It can greatly enhance your chance of obtaining employment if you research the most common types of positions in your area and acquire appropriate certifications. This can also help you get other jobs at employers with forklift operator positions, a major stepping stone in a forklift operator’s career.
If you’re not yet working at a company that employs forklifts, you’ll typically need to start at one before getting hired as a forklift operator. Most companies won’t want to take a chance on training someone without a background in forklifts already.
That said, a list of certifications and a good work history can work wonders, especially if you’re looking at positions a little less desirable or more difficult to become certified for. Look for related logistics positions: warehouse work, materials handling, inventory management, etc. In addition, taking temporary work as a forklift operator can also help.
Progressing Your Career
Generally, you can look in two directions when considering how to become a forklift operator with a progressive income. One is to develop the necessary skills to move into other roles on the logistics chain. This means you’ll spend less time on machines and more time working with software, personnel and other factors of ordering, shipping, inventory and storage.
If you focus on developing your skills along mechanical lines, you’ll end up working on more advanced machines, doing more complicated jobs with your forklift. Either path is viable, so it’s up to you to decide which seems more appealing and feasible for your skills and interests.
If you need help getting industrial and warehouse work, All Personnel hires temporary workers for forklift operator roles and more. Contact us today for more information.