Where Can You Do Forklift Training? (6 Options to Choose)

Where Can You Do Forklift Training?

Ever thought about driving a forklift and wondered where you can learn to do it safely? Forklifts are those big, powerful machines used to move heavy stuff around in warehouses, construction sites, and lots of other places.

But you can’t just hop on and start driving one without knowing what you’re doing. That’s where forklift training comes in. It teaches you everything from the basics of driving to how to keep yourself and others safe while operating these hefty machines.

Whether you’re looking to boost your job skills or need the training for a current job, knowing where to get proper training is the first step.

This guide will walk you through different places where you can get the training you need to drive a forklift confidently and safely.

Read the related article: How To Get Free Forklift Certification? (5 Sure Ways)

1. Vocational Schools and Technical Colleges

Taking forklift training at a technical college or vocational school—those places that teach you specific job skills, including how to operate big machines like forklifts—can be a smart move for many reasons. But like anything, it has its ups and downs. Here’s a straightforward look at the pros and cons:


  1. Hands-On Learning: You get to climb into the driver’s seat and actually practice driving a forklift. It’s not just someone talking at you; you get to do the stuff you’re learning about.
  2. All About Safety: These courses make sure you know how to keep yourself and everyone else safe. Forklifts are powerful, and a small mistake can lead to big problems. Safety training is a huge deal.
  3. You Get a Paper Saying You Know What You’re Doing: Once you pass the course, you get a certificate. It’s like a golden ticket that tells employers you’ve got the skills to do the job right.
  4. Learn From People Who’ve Been There: The teachers at these schools aren’t just reading from a book. They’ve operated forklifts and know the ins and outs, which means you learn from their real-world experiences.
  5. It Can Be Quick: Compared to other types of school, you can get in, learn what you need to know, and get out ready to work in a relatively short amount of time.


  1. Cost: Unlike watching free videos online or getting a quick rundown from a buddy, vocational school costs money. Sometimes, it can be a chunk of change, depending on the program.
  2. Time: Even though it’s quicker than a four-year college, it still takes time. You might have to juggle it with your current job or other responsibilities.
  3. You Might Need More Training: Some jobs might want you to have additional certifications or specific training on top of what you get at the vocational school.
  4. Not Always Local: Depending on where you live, you might not have a vocational school nearby that offers forklift training, which means travel or even relocation for a bit.
  5. Technology Updates: The forklift you train on in school might not be the latest model you’ll find on the job. Technology and equipment can change, so you might need to adapt and learn new controls or features.

When considering forklift training at vocational schools and technical colleges, it’s important to focus on aspects that haven’t been covered yet. These institutions are designed not just to impart practical skills but also to integrate you into a professional network and prepare you for the workforce in a comprehensive manner. Here are some additional points to consider:

Curriculum Depth and Breadth:

  • Vocational schools and technical colleges often design their forklift training programs to cover a broad range of topics. Beyond just operating the forklift, you might learn about inventory management, logistics, and the supply chain, giving you a wider understanding of how your role fits into the bigger picture.
  • Courses may also delve into specialized areas, such as operating forklifts in hazardous environments, which requires understanding specific safety protocols and regulations.

Quality of Training Equipment:

  • These institutions typically have access to a variety of forklift models, allowing students to gain experience on different types of machinery. This exposure can be invaluable in a job market where employers may use a range of equipment.
  • The quality of training equipment and facilities often mirrors real-world working conditions, providing a realistic training environment.

Professional Networking:

  • Attending a vocational school or technical college can connect you with professionals in the field. This network includes not just your instructors, who often have years of experience and industry connections, but also guest speakers, companies looking to hire, and fellow students.
  • Many schools have partnerships with local businesses and organizations, leading to internship opportunities or direct employment after certification.

Career Services:

  • Unlike informal training settings, vocational schools and technical colleges typically offer career services. These can include job placement assistance, help with resume writing, and interview preparation, all geared towards helping graduates find employment.
  • Career fairs and recruitment events are common, giving students direct access to employers.

Read the related article: Online Forklift Refresher Training: How Often Should You Do This

2. Specialized Training Centers

Going to a specialized training center just for learning how to drive a forklift is another route people take. These centers are all about giving you the lowdown on everything forklift-related. Let’s break down the good and not-so-good parts of choosing this path, in plain talk:


  1. Straight to the Point: These places don’t mess around. You’re there to learn about forklifts, and that’s exactly what you get. No extra fluff or unrelated classes.
  2. Super Focused: Since they specialize, they often have the latest info and training methods. You’re getting top-notch, up-to-date training that employers like to see.
  3. Flexible Scheduling: A lot of these centers know you might be working or have other things going on. They tend to offer classes that can fit around your life, like evening or weekend options.
  4. Short and Sweet: The training programs are usually designed to get you trained and certified quickly, so you can start working or improve your job situation ASAP.
  5. Hands-On Experience: You’ll get plenty of time actually driving and operating a forklift under the watchful eye of someone who knows what they’re doing.


  1. Cost: Quality comes at a price. These specialized centers can be more expensive than other options because they’re offering focused, expert training.
  2. May Need to Travel: If you don’t live near one of these centers, you might have to travel or even stay somewhere temporarily to take the course, adding to the cost and inconvenience.
  3. Narrow Focus: You’re learning about forklifts, period. Unlike a community college or vocational school, you’re not getting broader training that might help in other parts of a job.
  4. Job Help Might Be Limited: While some centers help you find a job after you’re certified, they might not have as many resources or connections as larger schools.
  5. Intensity: Because these courses can be shorter and highly specialized, they might cram a lot of learning into a small timeframe. This intensity can be tough if you’re balancing other life responsibilities.

Opting for forklift training at a specialized training center can offer unique advantages and considerations beyond the basics of cost, focus, scheduling, and course intensity. Let’s delve into additional aspects of choosing this specialized path for your forklift certification:

Up-to-Date Equipment and Technologies:

  • Specialized training centers often boast the latest forklift models and technologies, giving learners hands-on experience with the kind of equipment they’ll encounter in modern workplaces. This might include exposure to advanced safety features, electric and hybrid forklifts, and state-of-the-art operational systems.

Customized Training Programs:

  • Unlike more generalized educational settings, these centers can offer courses tailored to specific industries or operational environments, such as cold storage, hazardous material handling, or high-reach operations in warehousing. This specialization can make you a more attractive candidate for jobs in certain sectors.

Small Class Sizes:

  • With a focus on quality training, these centers often maintain smaller class sizes, ensuring more personalized attention from instructors. This can lead to a better understanding of material and more time for individual questions and concerns.

Certification and Recertification Focus:

  • These centers not only provide initial certification programs but are also adept at offering recertification and advanced training courses. This is crucial for maintaining compliance with regulatory standards and keeping skills sharp.

Experienced Instructors:

  • Instructors at specialized training centers are usually industry veterans with extensive experience. Their insights and real-world examples can enrich the learning experience far beyond textbook knowledge.

Read the related article: How Long Does It Take To Get Good On A Forklift?

3. Community Colleges

Taking forklift training at community colleges is another route folks often consider. Community colleges are like the neighborhood hubs for all sorts of learning, offering a mix of academic courses and practical training programs, including for forklift operation. Here’s a simple breakdown of the good and the not-so-good about getting your forklift training there:


  1. Affordability: Generally, community colleges won’t make your wallet cry as much as some other places might. They’re known for being more budget-friendly, which is great if you’re trying to save some cash.
  2. Broader Learning: Besides just learning how to maneuver a forklift, you might pick up other useful skills or knowledge because these colleges often include a bit of everything in their courses. This could make you more versatile on the job.
  3. Credits That Count: If you decide to chase more education later, some of the credits you earn here might count towards another program or degree. It’s like hitting two birds with one stone.
  4. Community Connections: These colleges are pretty good at networking within the local community. That means they might help you find a job after you’re done with the training, thanks to their ties with local businesses.
  5. Flexible Schedules: They get that you might have a job or family to juggle, so they offer classes at times that can work around your life, like evenings or weekends.


  1. Mixed Focus: Since community colleges offer a wide range of programs, their focus isn’t solely on forklift training. This means the program might not be as detailed or specialized as ones from dedicated training centers.
  2. Bigger Class Sizes: More students usually mean less one-on-one time with the instructor. You might not get as much personalized attention if the class is packed.
  3. Limited Equipment: Depending on the college, they might not have the newest or a wide variety of forklift models for you to train on. You could end up learning on older equipment.
  4. Slower Pace: If you’re in a hurry to get certified and start working, a community college program might feel a bit slow. It could take longer to complete compared to specialized centers because of the broader curriculum.
  5. Variable Quality: Just like anything else, not all community colleges are created equal. The quality of the training might vary depending on where you go, so you’ll need to do some homework to find a good one.

Opting for forklift training at a community college comes with its unique set of characteristics and benefits beyond the basic pros and cons already discussed. Delving into these nuances can provide a clearer picture of what to expect and how it might align with your personal or career goals. Here’s a closer look:

Comprehensive Education Approach:

  • Community colleges often approach forklift training as part of a larger educational curriculum. This might mean that your forklift training includes not just the operational skills, but also courses on logistics, safety management, and even basic maintenance skills. Such a well-rounded approach can enhance your employability in various sectors.

Accreditation and Recognition:

  • The programs offered by community colleges are usually accredited, meaning they meet specific quality standards set by educational authorities. This accreditation can add value to your certification, especially in the eyes of employers who prioritize formal education and recognized qualifications.

Support Services:

  • Community colleges are equipped with a range of student support services. This can include academic advising, career counseling, and job placement services. Such resources can be invaluable for students transitioning into new careers or those looking to advance in their current roles.

Community and Peer Support:

  • Being part of a community college environment allows you to be part of a student community. This peer network can offer support, study groups, and even friendship, making the learning experience more engaging and less isolating than self-study or online courses.

Opting for forklift training at a community college is a solid choice for many, especially if you’re looking for an affordable and flexible option. Just weigh these pros and cons to see if it lines up with what you’re looking for in a training program.

4. Online Courses

Going for forklift training through online courses is a modern twist on getting skilled up. It’s like learning from the comfort of your couch, with just you, your computer, and maybe a cup of coffee. But, just like anything else you do online, it comes with its own set of highs and lows. Let’s break it down in simple terms:


  1. Learn Anytime, Anywhere: You can dive into your forklift training wearing pajamas at midnight or during a lunch break at work. It’s all about what works for you.
  2. Pause and Replay: Missed something? No problem. You can rewind and watch again. It’s like having a personal rewind button for your learning.
  3. Save Some Bucks: Generally, online courses can be cheaper than in-person classes. You’re saving on travel costs too, which is a nice bonus.
  4. Go at Your Own Pace: If you need more time on a tough topic, take it. If you’re cruising through because you’re catching on quickly, no need to wait for anyone else.
  5. No Classroom Pressure: For those who get nervous in a traditional classroom setting, learning online can feel less intimidating. It’s just you and the screen.


  1. Hands-On Learning? Not Really: Operating a forklift is a hands-on job. Learning online means you miss out on the actual driving experience, which is pretty important.
  2. Self-Motivation Needed: There’s no teacher to remind you about homework or to study. You’ve got to keep yourself on track, which isn’t always easy.
  3. Technical Troubles: Bad internet connection? Software problems? These can turn your study session into a frustrating tech support call.
  4. Questions Take Longer to Answer: Got a question? You might be waiting a bit for an answer from your instructor, unlike in a classroom where you’d get an immediate response.
  5. Limited Interaction: You might miss out on making connections with classmates or learning from group discussions. It’s a more solo journey.

Opting for forklift training via online courses involves unique elements that extend beyond the basic pros and cons of cost, flexibility, and the need for self-motivation. When considering this modern approach to acquiring forklift skills, there are additional aspects to keep in mind that can influence your training experience and its outcomes. Let’s delve into these further details:

Digital Literacy Enhancement:

  • Online training not only teaches you about forklift operation but also improves your digital skills. Navigating through courses, participating in virtual simulations, and using online communication tools can enhance your proficiency with digital technology, an increasingly valuable skill in today’s workforce.

Access to Diverse Resources:

  • Online courses often provide a wealth of learning materials, including videos, manuals, interactive quizzes, and simulations. This variety can cater to different learning styles, whether you prefer watching, reading, or doing.

Updates and Current Content:

  • Online platforms can quickly update their course materials to reflect the latest industry standards, regulations, and technologies. This ensures you’re learning the most current information, which is crucial in fields that evolve due to technological advancements and changing regulations.

Certification Challenges:

  • While online courses can provide the theoretical knowledge required for forklift operation, they cannot offer the certification you might need to legally operate a forklift. You’ll likely need to arrange for a practical assessment or additional hands-on training to obtain official certification.

Integration with Other Learning Methods:

  • Online training can be a valuable part of a blended learning approach. Combining online theoretical knowledge with hands-on practical experience could offer a comprehensive learning experience. After completing the online portion, you might seek out local facilities or employers that can provide the practical training needed for certification.

Self-Paced Revision:

  • The ability to review course materials at any time allows for continuous learning and reinforcement of knowledge. This can be particularly beneficial for retaining safety protocols and operational procedures, which are critical for effective and safe forklift operation.

Lack of Practical Feedback:

  • Without the immediate feedback you’d receive in a physical training environment, it can be challenging to correct mistakes or refine your techniques based solely on online instruction. This gap highlights the importance of eventually practicing with a real forklift under professional supervision.

Choosing to do your forklift training online is handy for sure, especially if you need that flexibility and are okay with studying solo. Just keep in mind that you’ll need to find a way to get some real-life forklift driving experience to fully get the hang of it.

5. On-Site Training at Workplaces

Getting forklift training right at your workplace is like learning to swim in the pool you’ll be swimming in every day. It’s super convenient and tailored to the exact environment you’ll be working in. But just like everything else, there are upsides and downsides to this approach. Let’s break it down in simple terms:


  1. Real-World Practice: You get to learn on the exact equipment and in the same space where you’ll be working. It’s like practicing with the home field advantage – everything is familiar.
  2. Customized Training: The training can be tailored to fit the specific types of loads, equipment, and challenges you’ll face in your job. It’s like getting a suit tailored just for you; it fits perfectly.
  3. Immediate Application: You can start applying what you learn right away, which helps you remember it better. It’s learning by doing, and doing is on the job.
  4. No Travel Hassles: Since the training is where you work, you don’t have to worry about going somewhere else to learn. No getting stuck in traffic or worrying about being late.
  5. Team Learning: Often, you’re learning with your coworkers. This can make the learning more fun and also means you all get on the same page with how things should be done.


  1. Work Interruptions: Since you’re at work, you might get pulled away to handle work tasks. It can be hard to focus on learning when your regular job duties are calling your name.
  2. Limited Scope: You only get trained on the equipment and scenarios specific to your workplace. If your job changes or you move to a new place, you might find gaps in your knowledge.
  3. Pressure to Learn Quickly: With the boss watching, you might feel the pressure to learn quickly and not make mistakes. It can be a bit nerve-wracking.
  4. Scheduling Conflicts: Finding a time when everyone can train together without disrupting work can be tricky. It’s like trying to schedule a meeting that everyone can attend – almost impossible.
  5. Quality Depends on the Trainer: If your workplace doesn’t have a seasoned trainer, you might not get the best learning experience. It’s hit or miss, depending on who’s teaching.

Opting for on-site forklift training at your workplace provides a unique learning experience tailored to the specific conditions and demands of your job environment. This approach has additional nuances and benefits beyond the immediate pros and cons typically discussed:

Integration with Company Culture and Safety Standards:

  • On-site training allows the training program to be deeply integrated with your company’s specific safety protocols and workplace culture. This ensures that as you learn, you’re also becoming more aligned with the values and practices that are important in your work environment.

Direct Relevance to Daily Tasks:

  • The training you receive is highly relevant to your daily tasks. This direct relevance enhances the applicability of what you learn, making it easier to understand the importance and impact of each lesson in your day-to-day work.

Feedback Loop with Supervisors:

  • Training on-site means supervisors and managers can observe and directly provide feedback on your learning progress. This close supervision can lead to immediate improvements and adjustments in your training, tailored to your learning curve and the company’s expectations.

Opportunity for Immediate Corrective Action:

  • If mistakes are made during training, they can be immediately addressed and corrected by the trainer in the context of your work environment. This real-time correction helps reinforce learning and improves safety practices on the spot.

Enhanced Team Coordination:

  • When coworkers train together on-site, it fosters a sense of teamwork and enhances coordination among team members. This collective learning experience can improve how you work together, leading to more efficient and cohesive operations.

Potential for Continuous Learning:

  • On-site training doesn’t have to end with the initial certification. It can be the beginning of an ongoing learning and development process, with opportunities for refresher courses, updates on new equipment or procedures, and continuous improvement practices.

Customization to Worksite Layout and Challenges:

  • The training can be customized not just to the equipment but also to the layout of the workplace, including navigating specific obstacles or handling particular types of loads unique to your work environment. This customization ensures that operators are well-prepared for the specific challenges they will face.

Reduced Downtime:

  • By training on-site, the time usually spent traveling to and from training locations is eliminated, reducing downtime. This efficiency can be particularly beneficial for businesses looking to maximize productivity without sacrificing the quality of training.

Getting your forklift training at work can be super convenient and tailored to your needs, but it’s important to weigh these pros and cons. It might be the perfect fit for you, or you might decide you need something a bit different to get the skills you need.

6. Industry Associations

Role of Industry Associations in Forklift Training

Industry associations play a crucial role in the landscape of forklift training by serving as a bridge between industry standards, training providers, and forklift operators. These associations are typically comprised of professionals and companies in the logistics, warehousing, manufacturing, and related sectors.

  1. Standard Setting and Advocacy:
    • Many industry associations are involved in setting safety and operational standards for forklift operation. They often advocate for these standards and best practices within the industry.
    • They collaborate with regulatory bodies (like OSHA in the U.S.) to ensure that training programs are up-to-date with the latest safety regulations and operational guidelines.
  2. Accreditation and Certification Endorsement:
    • Associations often endorse or accredit various training programs, ensuring they meet industry-specific requirements and standards.
    • This endorsement adds credibility to the training programs and provides assurance of quality to those seeking training.

Networking Opportunities

  1. Connection with Professionals:
    • Industry associations provide excellent networking opportunities with seasoned professionals, trainers, and industry leaders.
    • This networking can lead to mentorship opportunities, career advice, and insights into the industry.
  2. Events and Conferences:
    • They often host conferences, seminars, and workshops where members can learn about the latest industry trends, share best practices, and network.
    • These events sometimes include hands-on training sessions or demonstrations of the latest forklift technology and equipment.

Access to Latest Trends and Resources

  1. Educational Materials and Resources:
    • Members typically have access to a wealth of resources, including training materials, industry publications, case studies, and research reports.
    • These materials keep members informed about the latest developments in forklift technology, safety, and operations.
  2. Technology and Innovation Updates:
    • Associations often provide information on the latest technological advancements in forklifts and warehouse management.
    • Members can learn about new forklift models, attachments, safety equipment, and operational software.
  3. Guidance on Compliance and Best Practices:
    • Regular updates on changing regulations and standards help companies and operators maintain compliance and adopt industry best practices.

Choosing the Right Training Program

  1. Type of Forklift:
    • Forklifts vary in design and purpose, such as counterbalance, reach trucks, or pallet jacks. Choose a program that covers the specific type you’ll use in your job.
  2. Work Environment:
    • Training should align with your work environment, whether it’s a warehouse, construction site, or a retail setting. Each environment has unique challenges and safety considerations.
  3. Load Types:
    • Different loads, from pallets to irregularly shaped items, require specific handling skills. Training should cover various load types you’re likely to encounter.
  4. Operator Experience Level:
    • Whether you’re a beginner or have some experience, select a program that matches your skill level and aims to elevate it.
  5. Safety Standards:
    • Ensure the program is up-to-date with current safety standards and regulations, like OSHA guidelines in the U.S.
  6. Industry Relevance:
    • Training should be relevant to the specific requirements of your industry, whether it’s manufacturing, retail, logistics, or another sector.
  7. Certification Offered:
    • Check if the program offers recognized certification, which can be crucial for employment and compliance.
  8. Duration and Flexibility:
    • Consider the length of the program and whether it offers flexibility (like part-time options) to fit your schedule.
  9. Practical Training Component:
    • Look for programs that offer hands-on training, as practical experience is essential for skill development.
  10. Cost and Accessibility:
    • Evaluate the cost of the program and whether it’s financially feasible. Also, consider the location and accessibility.
  11. Equipment and Technology Used:
    • The training should involve the latest forklift models and technology, preparing you for modern work settings.
  12. Instructor Expertise:
    • Ensure that the instructors have relevant, up-to-date experience and qualifications in forklift operation and training.

Importance of Safety Standards and Industry Relevance

  • Safety Standards:
    • Adhering to safety standards is crucial to prevent accidents and ensure a safe working environment. Training should emphasize risk assessment and accident prevention strategies.
  • Industry-Specific Training:
    • Different industries have unique requirements and challenges. Training tailored to your industry will equip you with the most relevant skills and knowledge.
  • Regulatory Compliance:
    • Ensure the training program complies with local and national regulations governing forklift operation. This compliance is essential for legal and insurance purposes.
  • Career Advancement:
    • Programs aligned with industry standards and safety practices are often valued by employers and can enhance career opportunities.


Finding the right forklift training program is essential for anyone looking to master this valuable skill. The options are varied: vocational schools and technical colleges offer detailed courses, specialized training centers provide focused and practical experience, community colleges present flexible learning schedules, and online courses offer convenience and accessibility.

Additionally, on-site workplace training ensures relevance to specific job environments, and industry associations offer a wealth of resources and networking opportunities. When choosing a training program, it’s important to consider several key factors: the type of forklift you’ll be using, the nature of your work environment, the kinds of loads you’ll handle, and the need to adhere to safety standards.

Also, think about how the training aligns with your career goals and the specific demands of your industry. By carefully evaluating these aspects, you can select a training program that not only equips you with the necessary skills but also sets you up for a safe and successful career in forklift operation.

Remember, the right training is not just about compliance, but about building a foundation for competence and confidence in your role as a forklift operator.


  • Mike Pattenson

    Mike Pattenson is a seasoned forklift trainer with over 15 years of experience in the field. Mike holds several certifications in forklift operation, safety training, and workplace hazard management. He is a certified OSHA outreach trainer, which enables him to provide specialized training on occupational safety and health standards. Additionally, he has completed advanced courses in instructional techniques and adult education.

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