What's In This Article
How would you describe a forklift? Is it a machine or a tool? Or maybe both?
One thing is certain – learning how to operate a forklift safely can unlock the door to a number of careers, and this is a useful skill to have in your arsenal.
If you are looking to learn more about becoming a forklift operator, the training and qualifications that you need, and the places that this can take you, then read on for all you need to know!
What Is A Forklift?
Forklifts are machines designed to lift heavy loads. They are also known as material handlers.
The forklift has two main parts: the forks and the base. The forks are attached to the bottom of the vehicle and they move up and down.
When the driver presses the button, the forks rise up and grab the load. Then, the driver pushes the handlebars forward and the forks lower back down.
Forklifts are essential tools in warehouses and factories. They are used to transport materials from one place to another. There are several types of forklifts, each with its own features.
For example, some forklifts have a hydraulic system, while others have electric motors.
Some forklifts are equipped with a bucket, while others don’t. And some forklifts have an automatic transmission, while others require manual operation.
Types Of Forklift
The most common type of forklift is the reach stacker. It is also called a reach truck.
This type of forklift can carry loads that are between 5 feet long and 10 feet long. It is ideal for transporting pallets because it can easily maneuver around them.
Reach trucks come in different sizes, depending on their capacity. You can find rich trucks with capacities ranging from 4,000 pounds to 20,000 pounds.
Another popular type of forklift is a side loader. Side loaders are usually smaller than reach stackers. They are also easier to use.
Because they are small, they can fit into tight spaces. However, they cannot carry large loads like reach stackers can. Side loaders can only hold loads that are between 3 feet long and 6 feet long.
The third type of forklift is called a front-end loader. Front-end loaders are similar to side loaders.
They also have a bucket at the front. But unlike side loaders, they do not have a platform. Instead, they have a flat surface where the operator stands. This allows the operator to see what he/she is doing.
The fourth type of forklift is known as a center pivot reach truck. Center pivot reach trucks are very versatile.
They can carry loads that are longer than reach stackers and shorter than side loaders. They are also able to turn 360 degrees.
What Is A Forklift Operator?
A forklift operator is someone who operates a forklift. He or she does so by pressing buttons and moving levers. An operator must be trained before being allowed to drive a forklift.
Forklift operators must undergo training to ensure that they are safe drivers, and they operate under the supervision of qualified professionals.
Before becoming a forklift operator, you will need to complete basic training. This includes courses such as first aid, CPR, and a drug test.
After completing these courses, you will receive a certificate of completion.
Once you have completed all the required training, you will need to obtain certification.
Certifications are awarded based on how well you perform during tests, and the certification exams cover topics such as:
- Operating regulations
- First aid
- Safety procedures
You will also need to take a written exam. This exam covers topics such as safety procedures, operating regulations, and forklift maintenance. If you pass this exam, you will then receive your forklift license.
There are many schools that offer classes in forklift driving. These include:
- The American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME)
The ASME has two levels of certification. Level 1 requires passing a written exam. Level 2 requires passing both an oral and written exam. Both levels require taking a skills check.
- The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH)
The NIOSH offers three levels of certifications. Level I requires passing a written exam, level II requires passing both an oral exam and a skills check, and level III requires passing a skills check.
- The International Association of Machinists (IAM)
- The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB)
All of these organizations provide forklift driver’s licenses. These licenses allow forklift operators to work anywhere within their jurisdiction.
Additional Forklift License Requirements
In order to become a forklift operator, it is necessary to get licensed. Licenses are issued by state governments.
In most states, licensing requirements vary depending on whether you want to drive a reach stacker, side loader, or center pivot reach truck.
In some cases, you may be required to take additional training if you want to drive a particular type of forklift.
For example, you might need to take additional training to learn how to use a reach stacker.
If you plan to drive a reach stack, you will need to meet certain height restrictions, and you will also need to be at least 18 years old.
If you plan to drive a side loader, on the other hand you will need to be at least 16 years old. You will also need a valid driver’s license.
If you plan on driving a center pivot reach truck, you will need to have a valid driver’s license, as well as experience working with forklifts.
Many people start out as helpers when they begin working as forklift operators.
Helpers help load and unload materials from trucks. They do not operate the forklift themselves. Instead, they follow instructions from the forklift operator.
A forklift operator must first obtain a forklift driver’s license from the state they reside in.
Once licensed, they must then pass a test administered by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH).
They must then complete a minimum of 40 hours of classroom instruction, followed by 20 hours of practical training.
After passing both tests, they must then register with NIOSH and obtain a certificate of completion. They must then renew their license every two years.
In addition to all of this, there are additional requirements that vary depending on whether or not the person is working for a company or operating their own equipment.
For example, if you are employed by a company, you will likely need to undergo background checks, drug testing, and other safety measures.
If you operate your own equipment, you will need to meet additional requirements such as obtaining insurance coverage and registering your vehicle with the DMV.
Why Is Forklift Operator Certification Important?
As more companies invest in automated systems, there is a growing demand for forklift operators. However, there are only so many jobs available. As a result, competition can be fierce.
To keep up with the competition, it is important to stay current with your education. This includes getting certified.
Certification ensures that you remain knowledgeable about safety practices, operating procedures, and other relevant information.
It is also important to make sure that you know what types of equipment you should avoid using.
Some items are dangerous to use while others are safe. If you don’t know which ones are safe, you could hurt yourself or someone else.
Forklift Operator Salary Information
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median salary for a forklift operator was $29.90 per hour in May 2016. The BLS reports that this figure represents a 4% increase since 2010.
According to the BLS, the top 10 percent of earners made over $40.00 per hour, while the lowest-paid 10 percent earned less than $23.10 per hour.
The BLS also reported that the highest paying job category was transportation and material moving occupations. According to the BLS, these workers earned $41.70 per hour.
How To Find A Position As A Forklift Operator
Once you have your forklift license, you will need to start looking for work.
There are several ways to find a position as a forklift operator. One way to look for a job is through word-of-mouth. Ask friends and family who currently work in the industry.
Another option is to search online. Many websites offer free job listings.
You can also contact local trade associations. These organizations often post openings for new members.
Another option is to attend career fairs. Career fairs provide an opportunity to speak with potential employers.
Finally, you can try applying directly to companies. Companies and construction sites usually advertise their positions on their own website.
Many companies and opportunities will also offer hands-on training, and so it can be worth getting in touch before you pay for training and qualifications.
In some cases, your new employer may be willing to fund your training, and this can be a great chance to gain experience while earning money and saving on your training costs and forklift operator certification.
Becoming a qualified forklift operator can unlock the door to a number of new jobs, opportunities, and fields of employment.
The most important thing to remember is that you need to ensure that you have the relevant training, qualifications, and licenses under your belt – once these are in place, you will be in a position to start searching for work in a professional capacity – and who knows where this could lead you?