• Forklifts are used in many different places
  • Many forklift jobs are well paid
  • Getting a forklift license can be done in a few days

What is a forklift?

From books on your bookshelf to a cabbage you bought from a supermarket the other day, many things around you were carried by a forklift on their journey to you. A forklift, also called a lift truck, is a truck that lifts and moves heavy materials using a couple of long arms in front of a truck that lifts heavy objects. Forklifts are very useful because of their capability to lift up something as heavy as several tons, they are used in many different places, including factories, markets, and construction areas. Only those who have a legitimate license can control forklifts, and forklift drivers tend to get paid well because of the license requirement. So, how can you get a forklift license in Japan?

What you need to get a license

In order to get a forklift license, you need to be 18 years old or over. In case you are going to drive on roads on a forklift, you need to have a driver’s license. In order to get a license, you are required to go to driving school and take classes for a certain amount of time. There are several different types of classes depending on your experience. The three experience categories are:

  • If you do not have a driver’s license or any experience with forklifts, you are required to take 11 hours of paper study and 24 hours of hands-on study. You can take the total 35 hours in five days. It costs from ¥30,000 to ¥50,000 to take the lesson and get the  license.
  • If you have a driver’s license, you need to take seven hours of paper study and 24 hours of hands-on study. You can do it in four days and it costs about ¥30,000. 
  • If you have experience of driving a forklift for at least six months, your paper study is going to be 11 hours and your hands-on study will be four hours. You can finish it in three days and it costs about ¥20,000.

In the paper class, you will be learning all about forklifts, including how forklifts work, laws about using forklifts, and even dynamics. It really sounds like you are going to school, right? In the driving class, you are going to learn how to drive and inspect a forklift, and to lift materials using forks. 

There are tests to see how much you have learned, and you can get a license if you get good grades. If you fail tests and want to retry, paper tests cost about ¥2,000 and driving tests cost about ¥10,000 depending on the driving school. You can apply for classes and tests on driving schools’ websites. Here are some of them (all in Japanese):

Use the big fork

Since forklifts are used in many different fields of work, forklift license holders are needed in a lot of places. Therefore, the salary tends to be higher and more job opportunities tend to be available for forklift drivers. In addition, getting a license is not so hard. So, if you are interested in driving a truck with a big fork, you should try to get a license!