Driving a forklift is one of the more difficult types of vehicles to drive, because it is manoeuvred with its rear wheels and most of the weight of the vehicle is distributed in the front. Learning to operate a forklift takes a reasonable amount of consistent practice, a skill that is validated by receiving certification and regarded highly by those who employ forklift operators.
- Skill level:
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Locate an accredited training centre in your area or in the area you in which you wish to be employed. This is a crucial part of the process, as a forklift license and certification generally have to be renewed if you move to a different state.
Take a refresher course in operating a forklift before applying for re-certification, which must be renewed every two years. This will give you the practical experience to help you prepare for the rigorous certification process and prepare you for the types of technical questions that are generally asked on the written test.
Complete the training required by the centre or institution you have selected. Once you have done so, the institution will administer a written test based on the training they have provided. The questions asked are usually in a multiple-choice or true-false format. An example of the questions asked might be:
Before loading or unloading a trailer at a loading dock, you should:
a) Inspect the floor of the trailer to ensure that it will support the lift truck and the load.
b) Chock the wheels of the trailer
c) Make sure that dock plates, boards, and ramps are in place and secure.
d) All of the above
A true/false question will look something like this:
Rear wheel steering is used on lift trucks because it gives the operator greater control when using the forks.
Take the practical forklift test upon passing the written exam. This puts the skills you have learnt into effect by actually requesting that you operate a forklift in front of the instructor. Some of the basic manoeuvres you will be asked to perform include backing up, pulling forward, and picking up and releasing an item from the forklift. After passing both tests, you can then apply for your certification card.
Tips and warnings
- Most employers will not hire a forklift operator who has not been certified by an accredited course or institution.
- Know the basic terminology of the components of a forklift. This alone will get you far on the written portion of the test. Being able to identify basic parts, like the single-acting hydraulic hoist arm, the foot guard, the load apron, and the counterweight, will assist in receiving certification.
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