Become a Forklift Mechanic: Step-by-Step Career Guide

Research the requirements to become a forklift mechanic. Learn about the job description and duties, and see the step-by-step process to start a career in heavy machine maintenance. View article »

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  • 0:00 Forklift Mechanic Career Info
  • 0:50 Finish Education
  • 1:27 Train On the Job
  • 1:48 Earn Certification

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Video Transcript

Forklift Mechanic Career Info

Degree Level High school diploma or equivalent; certificates and degrees available
Degree Field Diesel technology or related field
Licensure/Certification OSHA-required certification
Experience Varies by position
Key Skills Attention to detail; physical strength and dexterity; communication, customer service, and problem-solving skills; ability to use troubleshooting software and complex diagnostic equipment and tools such as hex keys and power screw guns
Salary $48,770 (2015 median salary for all mobile heavy equipment mechanics)

Sources: Job postings (December 2012), Various postsecondary education programs, O*NET Online, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (2014)

Forklift mechanics monitor and service forklifts, lift trucks and other heavy industrial vehicles. Some of their job duties include managing inventory and using computer-based diagnostics on equipment. They may also work with a variety of hand tools. Work is often physically demanding and may occur in noisy surroundings. Forklift mechanics should have strong attention to detail, physical strength, customer service and problem-solving skills; dexterity; and the ability to use troubleshooting software, complex diagnostic equipment and tools. In 2015, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported the mobile heavy equipment mechanics, including forklift mechanics, earned a median annual salary of $48,770.

Finish Education

Job postings from December 2012 indicate that forklift mechanics are typically required to obtain a high school diploma and have previous industry-related experience. Postsecondary education is increasingly preferred by some employers. Some community colleges and technical institutes offer certificate and associate's degree programs in diesel technology that can be useful to aspiring forklift mechanics. These programs provide students with training opportunities and cover the basics of diagnostic techniques and related subjects.

Vocational schools are also excellent places to become familiar with the technical equipment and diagnostic tools needed for the job.

Train On the Job

New forklift mechanics who have no formal industry-related education typically receive several months of on-the-job training. After new hires have received enough training to perform minor repairs and routine service tasks, they gradually advance to more complex work. It usually takes several years for forklift mechanics to become fully qualified.

Earn Certification

Though OSHA certification is voluntary, some employers prefer it. Prospective candidates can meet certification standards by enrolling in a class through a community college or other organization. Training typically takes 1-2 days and covers topics such as safe handling techniques and basic maintenance. To comply with federal guidelines, individuals must meet recertification requirements by taking additional courses.

Companies will take note of employees who show a professional interest in staying up to date on the newest trends in the field.

Once again, aspiring forklift mechanics are often required to complete high school courses and some on-the-job training, but might also be encouraged to complete some postsecondary courses in training as well in order to secure employment in the field.

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