How Do I Become a Forklift Mechanic?

Explore the career requirements for forklift mechanics. Get the facts about education requirements, job outlook and salary to determine if this is the right career for you. Schools offering Industrial Automation Engineering Technology degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Is a Forklift Mechanic?

A forklift mechanic is a mobile heavy equipment technician who specializes in the maintenance and repair of forklifts. They perform regular inspections and scheduled maintenance of these machines. When a forklift is malfunctioning, they investigate the problem and consult operating manuals in order to figure out what work needs to be done. Then, they complete whatever repairs are needed, such as replacing worn-out machine parts. Afterward, mechanics log their repairs so that they have a continuous record of the condition of the forklift for future reference.

Some education beyond high school is usually preferred for forklift mechanics. By reviewing the table below, you can get an overview of typical job skills for a forklift mechanic, and learn about the average salary in this career field.

Education Required Postsecondary certificate or associate degree
Education Field of Study Heavy equipment mechanics
Key Skills Physical stamina, dexterity, troubleshooting
Job Growth (2014-2024) 5% (for all mobile heavy equipment mechanics, except engines)*
Mean Salary (2015) $50,080 (for all mobile heavy equipment mechanics, except engines)*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Training Do I Need to Become a Forklift Mechanic?

There are two main options to take to become a forklift mechanic. Employers typically prefer you complete a formal training program in heavy equipment mechanics. However, you may be able to gain the knowledge and skills you need through on-the-job training, which some companies may offer.

Formal programs in heavy equipment mechanics usually result in an associate degree or certificate. These programs may cover topics including diagnostics, repair methods, safety procedures and preventative maintenance. You may focus on specific mechanical systems including electronics, hydraulics, air brakes and instrumentation. In a heavy equipment mechanics program, you study different types of machinery including forklifts, construction vehicles and cranes. You may work on projects directly at the training center or have an opportunity to enter into an off-site apprenticeship.

What Are the Job Duties of a Forklift Mechanic?

As a forklift mechanic, you are responsible for keeping forklifts in safe, working order. You may conduct inspections, order parts, make repairs, handle preventative maintenance, troubleshoot problems and keep logs of your work. Your work may involve using diagnostic equipment, power tools, handheld tools, welding equipment and calibration tools. For some tasks, you might use computers or computerized equipment.

You are in charge of making sure each forklift you service remains in good working order, has a long operating life and operates safely. When problems occur, you are the first to be called upon to fix them and you are expected to know what to do to fix them. You may have to examine an engine that is not firing, correct issues with the wheels or handle cosmetic issues, such as rust spot developing on the exterior.

How Much Can I Earn?

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that mobile heavy equipment mechanics, including forklift mechanics, earned a mean annual wage of $50,080 as of May 2015. The mean hourly wage was $24.08 for that same year. Machinery wholesalers were among the top employers of forklift and other heavy equipment mechanics in 2015, though the BLS notes that this category excludes engine work (www.bls.gov).

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

Instead of servicing forklifts and other heavy mobile equipment, you could get a job performing maintenance and repairs on rail cars, such as railroad locomotives and subway cars. In this job, you could work for private or public transportation systems, or for rail car manufacturers. Another option to consider is a job as a heavy equipment operator. You could operate a forklift or a different machine, such as a dredge. Dredge operators control machines that remove sand and rocks from waterways so that they remain navigable. Whether you want to work as a mechanic or as an operator, you need to have at least a high school diploma.

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