This is potentially good news for people who wish to quickly find paid employment, or move on from a current employment situation, because there is a pent-up-demand for drivers.
However, before you will be able to apply for these jobs it is necessary to get a Forklift Certification that means you will be legally entitled to drive a forklift in the US.
Fortunately, unlike taking your driving test which is getting harder with each passing year, obtaining a Forklift Certification is far less arduous both in terms of how long it will take to achieve and how much it will cost.
And the other good news is that the likelihood of success when attempting to become certified to drive a forklift truck is considerably higher than it is to drive a car.
It is the United States Department of Labor that has laid down the rules regarding who is eligible to drive a forklift, under their Occupational Safety & Health Administration Division (OSHA) and this is all codified under their safety legislation which also lays down the requirements for driving other “Powered Industrial Trucks” (such as heavy lifting vehicles, dumper trucks etc).
In practice the individual states in the US have either set down in their legislation to directly follow these guidelines, or have copied verbatim the guidelines into their own laws, and so in practice the rules governing Forklift Certification are the same across the whole of the United States.
Guidelines for Certification
The first rule to become certified to drive a Forklift Truck, is that you need to be over the age of 18 to do so.
You also need to be properly trained and certified in accordance with the OSHA standard.
The part of the OSHA Safety legislation that covers this is 1910.178 “Powered Industrial Vehicles”.
It is all rather long and wordy to read, but the reality is that getting a Forklift Certification in the United States is actually pretty straightforward, and doesn’t need excessive amounts of money or planning.
The ‘compliance’ part of the OSHA requirements are now completed entirely online and it is possible to even print out your own certificate at the end of the process!
This online portion may typically take a couple of hours to complete because there are some different presentations that you will have to view, and much of the time is taken up with safety briefings to make sure that you properly understand how potentially dangerous driving a forklift incorrectly can be.
In the past the OSHA has in fact published statistics that showed that in 1992 there were 170 workplace fatalities in the United States that were as a direct result of Forklift Truck accidents (that is more than double the number of people who die in the US every year as a result of lightning strikes); and so it is an area that they are constantly looking to improve training standards in.
The Forklift Certification process also requires that you have practical experience with driving a forklift, and so this particular requirement can be met in one of two ways:
- If you are currently employed and your employer wishes you to get the certification, then they can arrange for someone to show you how to operate a forklift (typically for a few hours or a day), and then certify to the OSHA that you are competent to handle a vehicle on your own.
- You can attend a half day or full day forklift training at any of hundreds of private centers. Cost wise you are looking at up to around $200 for a full-day of training.
The advantage of 2/ is that you don’t need to be employed to take advantage of this, and particularly if you are looking for a job in a warehouse or other industrial complex, your job application will really stand out if you are properly certified to drive a Forklift.
Once the online portions and the practical training have been completed then the OSHA will issue you with a Forklift Wallet Card to certify that you are properly certified and have met all the standards, and this will last for three years before needing to be renewed.