Forklift Operator Certification: How To Get a Forklift Licence

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated 16 October 2022 | Published 26 June 2021

Updated 16 October 2022

Published 26 June 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Forklifts play a major role in the logistics and transportation, construction, marine, and manufacturing industries. They can be used to lift, carry, and transport large objects quickly but in order to operate a forklift, you must first be certified. To obtain this certification, you'll be required to attend a few classroom sessions, complete hands-on training, and then pass an exam. In this article, we outline how to get a forklift licence and some frequently asked questions about the process.

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Why is forklift operator certification important?

Only qualified individuals who have received training and certification can operate a forklift. Large or heavy goods are moved around warehouses, storage facilities, and building sites using forklifts. It's important for forklifts to be handled properly and used appropriately to prevent property damage, injuries or fatalities. Hence, to work as a forklift operator, you must first attend the “Operate Forklift” course to know how to prepare, inspect, carry out, reinstate, and hand over forklifts, and to learn about the risks associated with it.

The WSQ “Operate Forklift” is endorsed and made mandatory by the Singapore Workforce Development Agency (WDA), the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) and the Workplace Safety and Health (WSH) Council. MOM can impose a fine on the company responsible for a forklift operator who is not certified. The forklift operator licence also includes equipment inspection training and basic repairs, which can help avoid truck malfunctions and prolong its life. Employers who ensure their employees are certified can benefit from:

  • Safer workplaces

  • Less equipment and property damage

  • Increased productivity and fewer resources wasted over avoidable accidents

  • Robust employee morale

  • Cheaper insurance rates

At the same time, certification can benefit forklift operators by:

  • Decreased injury risks

  • More technical skills and qualifications for forklift operating jobs

  • Job stability and possible promotions

  • Knowledge to carry out basic pre- and post-operational checks, understand load chart, and explain the Forklift Stability Triangle

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How to get a forklift licence?

You can earn your forklift operator certification by taking courses provided by training providers accredited by WDA. These courses include theoretical classroom work, a written test, as well as more practical hands-on training and evaluation. Follow these common steps to obtain a forklift operator licence:

1. Determine what type of forklift you need to be certified on

You should receive specific training related to the truck you will be operating. This may include sit-down, stand-up, counterbalance, and other forklift types. You can then start to find the appropriate certification that suits you best.

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2. Sign up for a certification course

Look for WDA-approved training courses provided by WDA-approved institutions. You can find them through your workplace, local forklift dealers, and vocational schools in your area. Some institutions to take your forklift course in Singapore include:

  • NTUC Learning Hub

  • PSA Institute

  • AAT Training Hub

  • UMW Equipment

  • UBTS Learning Centre

3. Take classes

The first part of forklift operator training is theoretical coursework. These classes typically last a total of six to eight hours. They may include lectures, videos or written educational materials in various languages such as English, Mandarin, Tamil, and Malay. The topics covered are usually as follows:

  • Workplace Safety and Health Act

  • Forklift introduction

  • Operational and safety checks

  • Forklift capability, limitations, and stability issues

  • Cargo symbols and instructions

  • Operation basics and traffic management

  • Pallet and rack stacking

4. Pass the exam

After you have finished your classwork, you will take a written exam or oral questioning test. In order to continue their training, students usually need to achieve a score of at least 75%. Otherwise, you can retake the module and take a retest.

5. Complete hands-on training

After passing the exam, you will get to exhibit your forklift skills in practical training. An experienced trainer will first demonstrate how to operate the equipment, then you can practise the respective exercises, which may include forklift inspection, loading materials, lifting loads, negotiating tight areas, familiarising with controls and gauges, working on inclines and stacking or unstacking dummy cargo safely.

This session also provides you with the opportunity to ask questions and clarify any misunderstandings. Consequently, the trainer will give you a grade based on your abilities, safety, and effectiveness. To be eligible to take the end-of-course assessment, you must achieve 100% course attendance.

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6. Get a final evaluation

Upon completion of the course, the instructor will evaluate your overall performance based on your practical simulation assessment and written exam score. If both are satisfactory, you will be awarded a Letter of Completion and a WSQ Statement of Attainment (SOA). Once certified, you will receive a forklift licence that you can present to employers when seeking jobs. This certificate displays your name, the date of your training and evaluation, as well as the name of the person who trained and evaluated you.

Forklift certification FAQs

The following are some of the most common questions people ask about getting their forklift operator licence.

What are the requirements?

Depending on the institute, the following constitutes the general prerequisites:

  • At least 18 years of age

  • Applicants who are above a certain age group must produce a medical certificate proving physical fitness

  • Singaporean, PR or holder of a valid employment pass or work permit

  • Possess a valid LTA Class 3 driving licence for the shorter course

  • Physically and mentally fit for the training

  • Able to interpret work instructions, technical information, and safety signs

  • Able to process numbers at a proficiency level

  • Able to read and understand simple English

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How much does forklift operator certification cost?

Training and certification costs vary depending on the programme and duration. A comprehensive programme lasting three to four days typically costs between $350 - $620, while a one-day course can cost as low as $150. It's worth taking note that those without a Land Transport Authority (LTA) Class 3 driving licence need more lessons, which translates to higher fees.

Fret not, some companies may pay for your training since they are required to engage only certified forklift operators. Moreover, there are usually fund assistance schemes from Skills Development Fund (SDF), Skills Redevelopment Program (SRP), and Skills Connect. Corporate registrations can leverage the Small and Medium Enterprises (SME) and the Workfare Training Support (WTS) funding as well.

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How long does forklift operator certification take to complete?

Depending on the level of comprehensiveness, the course can take as little as one day up to five days. In most instances, the 5-day course covers the same material as the 3-day course, but at a slower pace for people who need more time to learn properly, particularly those who do not have a Class 3 driver's licence. The one-day course usually entails the refresher course intended for forklift operators who took the basic “Operate Forklift” course more than three years ago.

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Where can I get certified?

If you're currently working and require forklift certification, it's the obligation of your employer to provide you with the necessary training. Otherwise, you can find WDA-approved forklift courses at a considerable number of places namely: NTUC Learning Hub, PSA Institute, AAT Training Hub, UMW Equipment, Tat Hong Training Services, Wong Fong Academy, and SMF Centre for Corporate Learning. There are still many institutes in Singapore that provide forklift courses and each institute offers varying benefits in terms of flexibility, cost, and programme duration.

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How long does my certification last?

The certificate issued has no expiry date. However, the Singapore Standards Council advises forklift operators to attend a forklift refresher course every three years. As such, they remain knowledgeable and up-to-date about current safety procedures and practices.

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Do I need to pass a hearing or vision test?

Forklift operators are not obliged to take hearing and vision tests. However, it's the employer's duty to ensure that the operator is capable of operating the truck safely. That said, employers that allow a forklift operator to operate the equipment, despite being aware of an employee's visual or hearing impairment, can receive levies from the authorities as punishment for facilitating hazardous working conditions.

Do I need ongoing education or training?

The following situations typically require retraining or refresher training, usually provided by your employer:

  • You have been operating a forklift in an unsafe manner

  • You have been involved in (or almost involved in) a forklift accident

  • You need to operate a different type of forklift

  • The nature of your workplace has changed

  • Your last forklift training session was three years ago

Apart from its professional importance, this ongoing refresher training assists in your personal development, enabling you to achieve a sense of fulfilment, improve your strengths, advance in your career, and refine your expertise.

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Disclaimer: Please note that none of the companies mentioned in this article are affiliated with Indeed.

This article is based on information available at the time of writing, which may change at any time. Indeed does not guarantee that this information is always up-to-date. Please seek out local resources for the latest on this topic.

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