How to get a forklift license

Updated February 21, 2017

Before you drive a forklift, you need to have a license, or both you and your employer could have trouble with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) if an accident occurs. Getting a forklift license to operate in a work environment requires learning all the rules about operating a forklift, as well as the rules that apply to everyone who moves any type of load with the lift truck. You will also need to be licensed for the different forklifts. The license covers the stand-up forklift and the sit-down lift truck. You will also be tested on both a gas and electric sit-down forklift.

Pass a written exam, which asks you questions about typical challenges you might encounter when driving a forklift. You must pass this test before you take the physical part of the testing.

Learn to inspect a forklift. You will have to check the battery cables, horn, forks and the overall condition of the electric lift. With the gas lift, you will have to safely remove and replace the gas canister on the lift and check the horn and the forks.

Learn to operate the forklift. You will be tested on backing up. You need to beep the horn, look behind you to make sure the way is clear, and then beep your horn again and back up. At intersections, you need to slow down to a stop, beep your horn and proceed with caution.

Learn to move loads up and down ramps. You must keep the load tilted slightly downward when going up the ramp and tilted slightly upward when going down the lift.

Learn to move loads unto a truck. The first thing you must do is check the truck tires to make sure that they have wheel chocks in front of the tires. Then you will move a load onto the truck and take the load off the truck.

Learn to removing loads from racks. You must know how each lift is operated when removing a pallet and loading pallets into the racks. You will learn this in the classroom. After you pass the physical test, you will be given a certificate or license to operate a forklift.


Some companies have on-site testing. If you have a license from a community class, it is valid at any place that you work. Some on-site licenses are only valid for that company.


Always use the horn on the forklifts. This is the one thing that will cause you to fail the test.

Things You'll Need

  • Stand-up forklift training
  • Sit-down forklift training (for both gas and electric)
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Pamela Gardapee is a writer with more than seven years experience writing Web content. Being functional in finances, home projects and computers has allowed Gardapee to give her readers valuable information. She studied accounting, computers and writing before offering her tax, computer and writing services to others.