Can I get a forklift license online? Seems like a simple enough question and yet it’s not, thanks to all the misinformation on the subject and misleading terminology. For starters, if you’re in North America, there really is no such thing as a “forklift license”. If we change the questions from “Can I get a forklift license online” to “Can I get a forklift certificate online”, it makes things much more clear. There is such a thing as a forklift certificate, it’s extremely important for operators to posses, and it CAN be obtained online.
Before starting on your journey to get your forklift certificate online, there are some very important things that you need to know. And since operating a forklift is a position filled with risk for the operator and those around them, let’s clear up a few misconceptions first.
What is a Forklift Certificate & Why Do I Need One?
Before we get started, let’s clear up the certificate vs. license wording, as it’s an important distinction. Many use the words certificate and license interchangeably when talking about forklifts. Unfortunately, this contributes to some of the confusion.
A license, like your driver’s license, requires government verification to be issued; forklift operation is not government regulated, which is why you can only get a certificate. A forklift certificate is a document that shows you have been trained to appropriately and safely operate a forklift.
Depending on your level of experience and the jurisdiction you’re in, getting “forklift certified” usually requires theory training, a knowledge assessment, hands-on training, and a practical evaluation. The theory training and knowledge assessment can be done online. Of course, the hands-on training and practical evaluation should always be done in the workplace.
Although forklift operation is not overseen by the government, failure to get certified has serious consequences. The certification process is enforced by OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration), who does recognize and accepts online training and certification; employers can be fined up to $12,000 for every employee who’s not certified.
How to Get a “Forklift License” Online
Now that you understand the basics, we’ll look at how to get a forklift license online – or should we say a forklift certificate?
The beauty of online forklift certification is that the process is quick and convenient, and can take as little as a few hours compared to the 8 hours to several days live instructor-led training can take. This is one of the reasons it’s becoming more and more popular.
Choosing a Program
First and foremost, you need to choose a program that is OSHA compliant. OSHA doesn’t endorse any program, but they do have rigorous standards a reputable program should follow. Most sites will have a disclaimer that they follow OSHA guidelines; if they don’t, search for another program. You can also ask your employer, who may have a particular site to use.
Next, check the structure of the program; many rely on videos paired with interactive components. This is an ideal format as it’s easier to progress through than simple text-based courses. You also want a program that is flexible in terms of when you can log in and how long you have to complete the training. This relieves some of the pressure and ensures your focus is on the material, not the clock. Also, pay attention to how many chances you have to pass the quizzes, as it varies from provider to provider. We would recommend using a provider that allows unlimited quiz retakes at no additional cost.
Finally, see when and how your forklift certificate can be accessed and printed. Many online forklift certification sites allow you or your employer to print your card immediately upon completion, but there are a few sites that only issue them by mail. If you need proof of certification quick, you’ll want to use a site with instant access.
Once you review these features and choose a program, register and pay using the online form so you can begin.
Complete the Online Forklift Training
Once you’ve registered, log in to take the training. As previously mentioned, the study material could be a video, written pages or a combination of several elements. Testing can consist of one primary test, several mini quizzes or both. It is important that you have a working computer or laptop to access this information; if you don’t, your job may have one you can use. Once you pass, your employer or appointed trainer will receive a checklist for the in-person evaluation.
Complete the Practical Evaluation
Depending on your experience level and whether or not you’ve previously had hands-on training, the practical evaluation is the final step to receiving your forklift certification. This step is always completed by your employers as this is where workplace and equipment specific information will be covered. Following OSHA guidelines they will teach you the proper and safe way to operate the forklift and then use the checklist to see if you can do it correctly. They will be looking to see that you follow safety procedures and have command of the machine.
As you can see, the answer to the question “Can I get a forklift license online?” is simple once you know what you need to do. Online certification gives you the opportunity to obtain the training you need to advance your skills and career in a way that is convenient and safe.