Forklift Operator Certification – What You Need to Know

Forklift operators enjoy a growing number of job opportunities across the US and Canada. As more and more companies build warehouses, enter the world of 3PL services, or become distributors, more job openings are added. Of course, there is also turnover in the industry – older workers retire, leaving openings for younger workers to fill. Overall, there’s a lot of growth here, and that means plenty of jobs and good compensation. However, forklift operator certification is something that should concern both job applicants and employers.

What Is Forklift Operator Certification All About?

In order to legally operate a forklift in the US or in Canada, an operator must be certified. This certification proves that he or she has the training necessary to operate the machinery safely, in a manner consistent with the environment in which they are working, and the product they are dealing with. OSHA requires training to be completed in order to earn this certification.

Is It Actually a License?

No, there is no mandatory need for licensure for forklift operators. Forklift operator certification is all that is necessary. In some instances, a paper certificate may not even be required, although it’s recommended for individual job applicants going through the training process on their own so they can prove to potential employers that they have passed the theory portion. Some employers may choose to provide licenses for their employees, but it is not a requirement by OSHA, CSA, or ANSI.

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What’s Mandated During Training?

There are two components of training – theory work, and an in-person performance evaluation. The theory work includes several sections. These are forklift-related topics, such as how to operate the forklift, how to steer it, how to determine capacity and other related topics. The second segment is dedicated to the operating environment – the job site. The final segment deals with the materials or products that the operator will be manipulating – palletized freight, or rolls of vinyl flooring, for instance. During the final in-person performance evaluation, the employer’s representative must observe the operator as they maneuver a forklift through a series of movements to demonstrate their practical skills.

Who Is Responsible for Forklift Operator Training?

The onus of training and certification falls squarely on the shoulders of employers. There is a very important reason for this – the training must be tailored to the employer’s specific environment, which is not possible through any third party provider. With that being said, only the physical demonstration portion of the certification course must be done on the employer’s premises. The theory work can be completed through other methods and can be done via third-party organizations, including online training providers.

Your Options for Obtaining Forklift Operator Certification

There are two primary options for forklift operator certification training. We will discuss both of them below.

In-Person Classes

This is a traditional classroom setting, in which an instructor presides over students learning materials, usually from a textbook, or via videos. Class sizes vary, but it often benefits employers to postpone training until they can pay for as many students as possible, as the costs for just a few learners are often the same as for a full class.

While the in-person class might be the most familiar for many people, it may not necessarily the best choice. There are quite a few drawbacks here. One of those has been touched on – the cost can be difficult to bear. There is also the fact that in-person classes put a significant burden on students.

It can be difficult to arrange a personal schedule to make room for in-person training during the workweek. It requires sacrificing time off, time with family and children, and more. It also incurs additional cost in the form of gas to drive to and from the location, as well as wear and tear on a vehicle.

Forklift Operator Certification Opportunities

Online Training

The Internet has ushered in an age in which education and training can be provided at a distance, with no degradation in the quality or accuracy of the content. With online forklift operator certification courses, both students and employers gain important advantages.

For students, these courses can be completed on your schedule, at your own pace. Can’t take time off today to attend class? That’s no problem. You can work it in when it fits your schedule best. There is also the fact that these courses can be taken from any location, so long as there is an Internet connection and you have a PC, laptop, tablet or smartphone capable of connecting to the Internet. Finally, with the right online training provider, students are able to take the entire certification course at no cost. They only pay when they purchase a certificate after successfully completing their training.

For employers, there are numerous benefits to be enjoyed with online forklift operator certification classes. One of those is that there is no need to arrange business hours around onsite training, and no need to take a hit to productivity or customer service while your operators are going through training. Because online training can be completed via any Internet-connected device, your employees can complete theory-related training at home, and then finalize it with an in-person performance evaluation. Employers are also able to purchase training courses in advance, and then assign them to employees as needed, which speeds up the training process, and aids in re-certification and refresher training.

In Conclusion

Ultimately, forklift operator certification courses help to ensure that all operators possess a minimum set of skills, and the knowledge necessary to operate forklifts and other trucks in a safe manner consistent with the work environment and the products or materials being manipulated. That’s a good thing for both employers and operators. However, the right training method is important. In-person classes are costly, restrictive, and difficult to schedule. Online training offers the flexibility and cost savings that both operators and employers need.