Wanted: forklift operators. Experienced required: minimal. Here’s what you need to know to land a forklift operator job with little or no experience.
Forklift operators are in high demand, with thousands of open positions available across the United States. That means determined candidates with minimal forklift experience have every chance of landing a job — if you follow these tips!
gain warehouse skills
Become familiar with the warehouse environment and demands by starting with an entry-level role such as receiver, picker/packer or general warehouse associate. You’ll make connections with the staff and management and learn more about the different types of forklifts and what a forklift driver does on a day-to-day basis. If you already have a warehouse job, ask your supervisor if they can sponsor your forklift training and certification.
dig into online resources
YouTube has a truckload of forklift operator videos covering everything from safety basics to common forklift driver mistakes. While it’s not the same as the real thing and does not replace training, it can give you an idea of what to expect and look out for.
The forklift operator subreddit can also provide a helpful online community. Amid forklift photos and memes, users answer career-specific questions and share tips.
get forklift certified
Attaining the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) certification is the most important step when looking for a forklift job with no prior experience.
It’s a multi-step process which includes completing coursework, taking a written test, doing hands-on training and passing an evaluation of your skills.
Here’s what you’ll need to do:
1. find an OSHA-approved certification program
These training programs are offered in-person or online, through sites like the OSHA Education Center. Coursework includes videos, lectures and readings.
2. take the test
The training program concludes with a final exam. You typically will have unlimited attempts to pass the test and must earn at least a 70% score to earn your certification.
3. do hands-on training and evaluation
Next, you’ll get in the driver’s seat and complete in-person training and evaluation through an OSHA-certified machinery training school, forklift dealer or technical college program. To be an extra-eligible job candidate, learn how to operate a variety of forklifts (e.g. counterbalance, side loader, industrial).
Once you’ve passed the evaluation, your forklift license is valid for three years anywhere in the country, and then it must be renewed.
fine-tune your resume
Before you start applying for jobs, make sure that hard-earned certification is prominently highlighted on your resume. You can also focus on traits that are commonly sought after for forklift operators, like any experience working with heavy machinery or in a physically demanding role, as well as time-management skills and attention to detail.
Use our free resume builder tool to present your skills and experience in a polished and compelling way.
sign up with a staffing agency
Ready to start searching? Join a staffing agency like Randstad, which lists openings for forklift drivers across the country. Focus on entry-level positions, or seek out companies that are willing to provide training as needed.
Check out these available forklift operator jobs, and take your career to the next level!