Is forklift operator a smart career move for you?

Mar 01 2022 | 3 Min. Read Careers

Is forklift operator a smart career move for you?

Are you looking for a career in an industry that requires mental agility driving and operating industrial equipment? Did you know that starting a career as a forklift operator offers pathways for advancement into warehouse and manufacturing management roles? And, right now, forklift operators are in high demand. If you have the skills listed below, this could be the career for you.

Forklift operators need to have a high school diploma or GED and excel at:

  • Communication with team members, other workers, and even customers to maintain safety
  • Patience and care to make sure loads are secure and balanced
  • Attention to detail to verify you’re picking the correct item
  • Ability to handle the pressure of a fast-paced work environment
  • Organizational ability to stay on time

Training is a must

Forklift operators are skilled workers who must be trained and certified according to OSHA standards. But training is provided by your employer at no cost to you.

OSHA requirement

OSHA states that: “Training shall consist of a combination of formal instruction (e.g., lecture, discussion, interactive computer learning, videotape, written material), practical training (demonstrations performed by the trainer and practical exercises performed by the trainee), and evaluation of the operator's performance in the workplace. [29 CFR 1910.178(l)(2)(ii)]

  • Formal instruction

This can be presented online, in a classroom, on videotape, or in written materials. It should cover basic knowledge of safety issues and best practices for daily operation of forklifts. A certificate of completion is provided when this training component has been completed successfully.

  • In-person, equipment-specific training

In-person forklift and MEWP training covers real-life applications and instruction for operating the specific equipment models used in the work environment. Since operators must be trained on the equipment that they’ll use and, in the applications that are specific to that workplace, in-person training may include a number of pieces of equipment used in different areas.

This training is crucial since there is such a wide variety of forklift types. Here are a few:

  • 3-wheel and 4-wheel electric
  • Internal combustion cushion tire
  • Internal combustion pneumatic tire
  • Rough terrain
  • Stand-Up counterbalance
  • VNA (Very Narrow Aisle)
  • Pantograph reach trucks
  • Moving mast reach trucks
  • Walkie reach trucks

In addition, forklifts are used in a range of applications. For example:

  • Indoor – Warehouses & Distribution Centers
  • Indoor - Manufacturing
  • Indoor - Shipping and Delivery
  • Outdoor - Farm/Agriculture
  • Outdoor - Construction
  • Outdoor - Lumber Yards / Sawmills
  • Outdoor - Dockyards
  • Indoor/Outdoor - Recycling Plants


Anyone who operates forklifts must be trained and certified for both the equipment type and the actual use in the work environment where that machine will be used. If jobs change, workers need to be recertified on the new equipment and how it’s used.

Beware of false training claims

If forklift operator sounds like the career path for you, great! But beware of training companies that make misleading statements about their forklift certification following you from job to job or even machine to machine. This is just not true. Per OSHA, training must be specific to the site and equipment type.

There’s good news, though. Forklift operator experience does follow you from job to job and for the rest of your career This is especially valuable if you can show a safe operator history.

Trust TrainMOR for operator training

When it comes to training operators on forklift and MEWP operation and safety, rely on TrainMOR. Contact us for information on our Mobile, Memorable, and Measurable training courses—available online, in classroom and on-site. Our training is top-notch, and we’ll never mislead you

© update