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 you need a CDL to drive a forklift?
No. A forklift license is required, but you don't need a driver's license or CDL.
How old do you have to be to operate a forklift?
To operate a forklift you must be at least 18 years old.
How much does it cost to get a forklift license in California?
At TMHNC, we charge $175 to certify you as a forklift operator using a sit-down counterbalance forklift (both electric and LP forklift). We offer forklift classes in English and Spanish at our locations in Sacramento, Salinas, Fresno and the East Bay (Livermore). View our schedule of forklift certification training in northern California.
On-site forklift training is available anywhere in Northern California for the same price of $175 per person – with 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 get a forklift license?
You can get certified in one day, but after certification, you should expect additional, site-specific safety and equipment training from your employer to ensure OSHA compliance.
Also, while your forklift certification training will teach you all the essentials, some forklifts are harder than others to operate. Once you get a job as a forklift operator and use the same forklift repetitively, that's when you'll become a pro.
OSHA Forklift Training Requirements
A forklift can be a dangerous piece of equipment. On average, there are approximately 85 forklift-related fatalities every year in the U.S. and 30,000 serious injuries. For this reason, OSHA requires every forklift operator to be trained & certified on the lift truck s/he will be using. OSHA is also very specific that training must include classroom training and hands-on driving.
How do I get an OSHA forklift certification?
OSHA does not conduct training or certify forklift operators, but they do have a forklift training 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?
Forklift Operator Salaries in California
How much can you make as a certified forklift operator in California?
According to Salary.com, the median hourly pay for a forklift driver is between $19.50 - $25.00 per hour (as of December 2022). Average salaries for forklift operators with a bit of experience range from $40k per year in Fresno, up to $50k in the Bay Area. Experienced operators can earn up to $57,600 in the East Bay, San Francisco and San Jose.
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 increase 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) to operate a propane forklift. If the new job involves using a propane forklift, then yes, the license 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 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 TMHNC 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