How to Become a Forklift Driver in Australia (Victoria)

Ever worked at a warehouse, factory, manufacturing plant, etc and looked at the Forklift Driver thinking that looks like fun? Forklift driving in many cases is in fact very fun and rewarding to do, but can equally be challenging and you may be put under some time pressure with jobs such as loading and unloading trucks, getting stock for machine operators, unloading shipping containers, etc. Forklift driving is generally an in-demand role in the warehousing, logistics, and manufacturing industries, and is relatively simple to learn; however as with many disciplines, takes years to master.


  1. Image titled Become a Certified Forklift Driver Step 1
    Find the right Forklift Training RTO (Registered Training Organisation) for you.
    • Generally all registered Forklift Training RTOs in Victoria offer the same type of practical training, which are:
      • Maneuvering of the forklift in a course (with and without loads)
      • Driving through the course (Forward and reverse, again with and without loads)
      • Lifting of loads into and out of wall racking up to 3 rack spaces high.
    • However the main difference between all RTOs is Price and the amount of training delivered - most RTO's will usually give the minimum 2 consecutive day course on forklift driving and theory, whereas other RTOs may give even up to 3-4 days, giving further training on electric forklift battery recharging, gas forklift bottle changing, etc. The full cost of the course is generally around $450 - $500, plus a $60 licencing fee payable to worksafe within 60 days of passing the course.
    • If you are unsure of the Credibility of the RTO you wish to train at you can always look up its registration status at Select the hyperlink "Find RTOs approved to deliver this unit of competency" and matching the company name and ABN, although the vast majority of RTO's will be registered, so this is not a must do.
  2. Image titled Study Efficiently Step 24
    Study the Learner Guide thoroughly and complete the pre-assessment workbook. The written test requires you to write out all answers, rather than pick from multiple choice options, so be sure you know the material inside and out.
    • The workbook should take 2-3 weeks (maximum) to study and complete (if you are busy working 5 days a week), although this will depend on how much time you spend on completing the workbook.
  3. Image titled Become a Certified Forklift Driver Step 5
    Complete the Forklift Training Course Day 1. It covers practical training and some theory revision.
    • After you arrive, you might be either given a short safety brief before driving the forklifts, or you may have to go through most of the learner guide before driving the forklifts. Either way, most RTO' expect you to have studied the Learner Guide and have a good understanding of all the dos and don'ts of Forklift Driving
    • When you are to start driving, there will usually be around 3-4 counterbalance forklifts (gas and electric, maybe a diesel); each are different in their operating methods, although for the first day you can drive them as much as you like (safely of course) and get a feel for the controls. Your supervisor/instructor will give you advice on how to drive correctly and pull you up if you do make any mistakes.
  4. Image titled Become a Certified Forklift Driver Step 2
    Complete the Forklift Training Course Day 2. This involves a written test and a practical test.
    • It depends on the RTO which is done first. After day 1, study the learner guide and workbook thoroughly, as all answers in the written test are written out, not multiple choice. You can only make a few mistakes, so know the material well.
    • The practical test consists of driving the same course forward and reverse, with and without loads, stacking up to 3 high, etc. Your instructor may instruct you on what to do, or may even just tell you to drive as per normal, leading to a much more relaxed training situation.
    • After you have passed both the written and practical tests, you are now forklift licenced! You will be given a Certificate of Competency/Notice of Satisfactory Assessment to act as your temporary Forklift Licence valid for 60 days - the copy you keep, and the original you must submit to Worksafe via Australia Post with the $60 Licencing fee for your 5 Year High Risk Work - Forklift Licence ID Card to arrive in the mail.
  5. Image titled Become a Certified Forklift Driver Step 3
    Get to work! If you already are working in a workplace with forklifts, let your supervisor/manager know you have done the course and they will usually photocopy your licence and give you a short induction (that is if you are needing to be using the forklift in your current role).
    • Otherwise, good jobs to start out for a newly licenced forklift operator include: Process Workers, Labourers, Despatch Workers, Packers, etc. Look in the job description for the information; these roles usually accept applicants who are newly forklift licenced as you will not be driving a lot, but you will gain valuable experience operating a forklift on the job.


  • Virtually anyone with the desire to be a forklift driver can do it as long as you are determined.
  • Compare different RTOs to choose the right one for you; consider price, training, and location.
  • If you do happen to fit the Victorian Training Guarantee Eligibility Requirements (usually for people under 21 or who haven't done a Tertiary course before), you may be able to get your Forklift Licence at a reduced price depending on your RTO.
  • Drive as slow and safe as you can when learning; some forklifts (especially electrics) may have a short lag between the time you press the pedal, and the time you start moving. Never slam hard on anything.
  • One difference you will notice between forklifts and cars is the brake. A forklift's brake is specially designed to brake very slowly (as not to jerk and lose the load) so this must be kept in mind when travelling at any speed. Do not use the "inching pedal" on a gas forklift as a brake when driving.
  • Steering with the left hand, controls with the right hand.
  • Be truthful to employers about your operating experience. It is very easy to spot an inexperienced operator, and additionally there are many different forklifts you may be asked to drive but have never driven before. Ask for training or assistance. For example, a reach forklift's controls are reversed (for the intention of aisle use) and you sit side-on to the forks (again for the intention for aisle use). For an operator who only learnt how to drive counterbalance forklifts or just got their Licence, this will be very hard to get used to, but with practice will be achievable.


  • Never turn with the forks raised (in the workplace you will always see this being done, but in training its a big no-no)
  • Never turn quickly with the forks raised - whether your'e carrying a load or not, this is almost certain to cause a forklift to tip over.
  • Avoid jerking up/down or tilt movements with a load, especially at height, where these movements are greatly magnified. If stacking 3 high, you could probably move an entire load forward half a metre or more just with tilt.
  • Never raise a load with forward tilt... it's a recipe for disaster. Remember only 2 flat steel forks are holding up a load which can be hundreds of kilos which can easily slip off with forward tilt.
  • Beware of the ground - even small cracks on the ground will have a large effect on the forklift since there is no suspension.
  • Beware of the height - roller doors, low roofs, etc. Many a forklift can punch a hole in a roof (especially a low one) if due care is not taken.
  • Always keep learning! This is by no means an exhaustive list or document, there are endless ways, rules, safety procedures, techniques, guidelines, etc, in driving a forklift. These are just a few but there are so many more!

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Categories: Tradesman Occupations | Australia