While you're unemployed is the ideal time to get your forklift license because you can't legally start doing forklift work without one. Companies employing uncertified forklift operators can be fined by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). According to OSHA guidelines, employers must confirm that operators have been properly trained and evaluated before they start forklift work. So while you're unemployed, get certified by a training program that adheres to OSHA standards.
Choose a forklift training program. There are many online training programs that provide OSHA certification upon completion, but these courses are designed specifically for experienced forklift operators who need new certification, not forklift beginners. Beginners need in-person training. Try the National Association of Heavy Equipment Training Schools (see Resources) for a list of programs.
Take the written exam. During the first part of your forklift training, you'll learn about parts of a forklift, OSHA standards, inspection rules and other basic guidelines. You'll be given a written exam on this material.
Take the operating exam. Once you learn the practicalities of operating a forklift, you'll actually get in and learn how to manoeuvre it. After the hands-on part of the training is complete, you'll be evaluated on your handling abilities.
Receive your certification. After you pass the written and operating exams, you'll receive a forklift operator's certificate. You'll need to show this to employers when applying for a forklift job.