Forklift Certification FAQs

by Mark Gates on January 3, 2017
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forklift certification faqs
Interested in learning how to drive a forklift? Wondering what it takes to become a certified forklift operator, what a forklift license is and where to go for training? Read on for the answers...

Forklift Certification Basics

What is a forklift license? A forklift license is proof the license-holder can safely operate a designated forklift. Just as pilots are certified to fly certain aircraft, forklift operators are certified based on the type of lift truck (electric versus gas-powered, for example). Learn more about the steps to get a forklift license.

Do I need a driver’s license to operate a forklift?
No. You do not need a driver’s license.

How old do you have to be to drive a forklift?
The minimum age to drive a forklift is 18.

How much does a forklift license cost?
At Toyota Material Handling of Northern California, we charge $135 to certify you as a forklift operator using a Class 4 forklift. We offer classes at our locations in Sacramento, Salinas,, Fresno and Livermore-East Bay. After certification, you should expect additional, site-specific safety and equipment training from your employer to ensure OSHA compliance.

On-site training is available for the same price of $135 per person - when there is a minimum of five students. No additional post-certification training is required because we customize the program to the specific work environment and equipment. We offer a price break for groups of 20 or more. Visit our forklift certification page for more info or to schedule a forklift training class.

How long does it take to learn to drive a forklift?
You can get certified in one to two days long depending on whether you’re a total newbie or an experienced driver. A longer course offering training on several types of lift trucks is beneficial if you’re looking for work.

Forklift Training and OSHA Requirements

A forklift can be a dangerous piece of equipment. Nearly 100 people are seriously injured by forklifts each year. For this reason, OSHA requires every forklift operator to be certified on the lift truck s/he will be using.

Where can I get an OSHA forklift certification?
OSHA itself does not conduct training or certify forklift operators, but they do have a forklift certification FAQ on their website.  Local community colleges, trade schools, and trucking schools may offer forklift training. You can also start your forklift training online, but buyers beware! Not all forklift courses are the same.  An online training course will not get you a forklift operator’s certificate.

Learn what’s required to get an OSHA forklift license and get answers to the following questions before paying for any training.
  • Does the course include hands-on training?
  • What are the qualifications and experience of the trainer?
  • Where will the training be conducted?
  • What is the cost to retake some or all of the course if a participant doesn’t pass?

How Much Do Forklift Operators Make
and Other Forklift Job FAQs

What do forklift operators earn?
According to, the median salary for a forklift driver (as of November 2016) is between $30,505-$39,095.

Here is some information on forklift operator pay in Central and Northern California:

Sacramento: $34,897 / year
Salinas: $35,948 / year
Fresno: $33,121 / year
Hayward: $38,762 / year

The more training and certifications you have, the better job opportunities and pay you can expect. Learning about shipping, receiving, and inventory software can also improve your pay. Make friends with the other warehouse staff and expand your skills.

Can I use my forklift license if I change jobs or move to another state?
This is a tricky one. To make the answer as simple as possible, let’s assume the operator was recently certified (a forklift certification must be renewed at least every three years). If the new employer uses the exact same lift trucks the driver was certified on, then the answer is yes, the license from the old company is still valid. It does not matter if the new job is in a different state.

That said, OSHA places responsibility on the employer to ensure their operators are familiar with any hazards or safety issues specific to their workplace. For this reason, the new employee should expect some additional training. Also, if the new company has different lift trucks, attachments, etc., the operator would need training and certification before using this equipment. Review our FAQs about Forklift Training for Employers for additional insights.

No matter where you go, a current forklift license can help you find a job. Anywhere there are warehouses, airports, stadiums, or construction sites, there are people who need their stuff moved from one place to another. We hope you’ll consider TMH for your forklift training and certification needs.

If you have additional questions, please contact us online, or by phone.

East Bay - Livermore (510) 340-9293
Fresno (559) 834-9500
Sacramento (916) 376-0500
Salinas (831) 757-1091


Forklift Certification in California

Topics: Training

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