Should I Be a Forklift Technician?
Forklift technicians service and monitor forklifts and other heavy industrial vehicles. Some of their job duties include maintaining tools, communicating with salespeople, managing inventory and using computer-based diagnostics on equipment. Techs often work in noisy repair shops and might have to complete tasks in awkward positions.
|Degree Level||None; certificate or associate's degree preferred|
|Degree Field||Diesel technology or heavy equipment mechanics|
|Licensure/Certification||Certification available to meet OSHA standards|
|Experience||3+ years of experience in the field|
|Key Skills||Physical strength and manual dexterity; ability to troubleshoot issues and solve complex problems; use of facilities management, database, and query software; ability to use complex diagnostic equipment and tools such as specialty wrenches, power screw guns, and locking pliers|
|Salary||$52,503 (2016 median for forklift mechanics)|
Sources: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Payscale, O*Net OnLine, Central Piedmont Community College, job listings (December 2012)
Forklift technicians have certificates or associate's degrees in diesel technology or heavy equipment mechanics or postsecondary training in the field. They are expected to have physical strength and manual dexterity, along with the abilities to troubleshoot issues and solve complex problems. They must also be able to use facilities management software, databases and query software and complex diagnostic equipment and tools, such as specialty wrenches, power screwguns and locking pliers. According to Payscale.com, the median annual salary of forklift mechanics, which includes forklift technicians, was $52,503 in 2016.
Steps to Be a Forklift Technician
What steps do I need to take to be a forklift technician?
Step 1: Meet the Educational Requirements
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, a high school diploma is the minimum education required for a career as a forklift technician. However, some employers prefer to hire technicians with postsecondary training in heavy equipment mechanics or diesel technology. Some technical institutes and community colleges offer certificate and associate's degree programs in these subjects. A certificate in diesel technology, for example, includes coursework in brakes, hydraulics, engine repair, basic welding, air conditioning and automotive electrical systems.
Step 2: Get Certified
While not mandatory, certification may lead to greater job opportunities and higher earnings. Community colleges and other organizations sometimes offer certification classes that allow technicians to meet Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) standards. These programs can take as little as one day to complete and cover topics such as inspection, road rules and safe handling techniques.
Step 3: Advance with Training and Experience
Entry-level forklift technicians generally undergo on-the-job training for a few months. However, the more education a technician has, the less training he or she needs. After new hires have received enough training to perform minor repairs and routine service tasks, they gradually advance to more complex work. Equipment manufacturers also offer training sessions for new technicians. It usually takes between three and four years for forklift technicians to become fully qualified.
To enhance your chances of success, you can pursue certification through your employer. Some manufacturers offer certification for workers who demonstrate competency in particular types of equipment or repair techniques. Technicians might gain such certification to increase advancement opportunities and pay.
You will want to maintain your certification. To maintain OSHA certification, forklift technicians must maintain certification on a regular basis. This involves taking a recertification course through a community college, technical school or certifying organization.
Forklift technicians service and monitor forklifts and other heavy industrial vehicles. They have postsecondary education or training, physical strength and the ability to use software and complex equipment and tools. And they earn a median annual salary of $52,503.