Forklifts are used in warehouse jobs, construction work, agriculture and elsewhere to move heavy objects. To become a forklift instructor and teach others how to operate a forklift, you first need to know how to drive and operate a forklift safely. To operate a forklift in the United States, you must be trained and certified in compliance with Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) standards. It is illegal in the U.S. for anyone to operate a forklift who is not trained and certified or who is younger than 18 years old. There is no formal certification required to train others to use a forklift.
OSHA does give guidelines for forklift trainers. The organization's standard related to forklift training states, "All operator training and evaluation shall be conducted by persons who have the knowledge, training, and experience to train powered industrial truck operators and evaluate their competence." If you currently drive a forklift as part of your job or have in the past and are still certified, then you have the foundation you'll need to work as a forklift instructor.
Teaching skills also will help you to become a forklift instructor. You can learn how to train others to operate a forklift and gain teaching skills by attending train-the-trainer classes for forklift trainers. These classes can be found through forklift manufacturers, your local OSHA office, online and in the yellow pages of your telephone book. Attending train-the-trainer classes can help you determine whether someone you have trained has achieved the necessary skills to operate a forklift independently. The courses will teach you how to evaluate the driving abilities of employees you train and the process for certifying them.
If you want to become a forklift instructor, speak to your employer to find out if there is a need for employees to be trained in forklift operations. If there is a need for people to be trained, you might wish to volunteer for the job of putting together a training and certification program at your place of employment. You also can approach companies that provide train-the-trainer classes to see if they have job openings for forklift instructors. Having current certification and a clean safety record as a forklift operator will help you find work training others to drive forklifts. Having good overall communication and speaking skills as well as leadership ability also will help you become a forklift instructor.