If your goal is to be a forklift operator, you will find that job opportunities abound, but getting an official forklift certification will put you (and your employees) on the fast track to a higher than average salary and, perhaps more importantly, a safer work environment.
In many geographic areas where manufacturing and transportation are important to the local or global economy, forklifts are a very common sight (and sound) and used with great regularity (often around the clock) to move physical goods from one location to another. Most businesses would not survive without the presence of forklifts (and qualified forklift drivers).
The total number of material moving machine operators (which includes forklift drivers) in 2014 was over 679,000 and the demand for people with all the necessary skills and expertise as responsible forklift operators has never been higher. To make sure that you get the job you deserve (or an employee that benefits your enterprise), having or requiring a certification can make a significant difference.
Why should employers care about forklift certification?
OSHA (the Occupational Safety and Health Administration) is tough on enterprises that employ uncertified forklift operators and will often fine those businesses thousands of dollars for doing so. As a result, forklift training and certification is important to avoid those penalties and, of course, create a safe working environment.
What does forklift certification entail?
OSHA demands that a forklift training program include formal training (e.g. information on proper use of the machines including the various control mechanisms), practical (hands-on) training to ensure excellence in operational practice, and an official evaluation. Forklift certifications, at least those approved by OSHA need to be renewed every three years.
Types of Forklift Certification
No two forklift training programs are the same – some are in person and very rigorous and thorough and others are made available online and hence very efficient for those simply looking to renew their forklift certification or take it for the first time without much disruption to their work or personal life.
To be considered a highly qualified forklift operator, look for training and forklift certification programs that provide a range of educational opportunities. For example, warehouse forklift training will include how to operate electric motor internal combustion engine trucks, pallet jacks and order pickers (including both electric motor narrow aisle trick and electric motor hand or rider trucks) and even rough terrain forklifts – (which are most often used in construction, forestry, and other industries including manufacturing and shipping).
The median annual pay in May 2017 for all “material moving machine operators” (forklift drivers and operators) in the US is $34,830 – according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics – and the demand keeps growing. Whether you’re looking for a new career or looking to increase your salary, forklift training and certification is a great way to do that.