MIDDLESEX COUNTY, NJ - Mechanically-inclined high school seniors in Middlesex County are being offered an opportunity to get a head start on a lucrative career as forklift technicians.

The free pilot program, spearheaded by the Middlesex County Vocational and Technical Schools, will offer certification and potential entry into an apprentice program after six months or less of virtual and hands-on instruction. Partners in the effort are the Manufacturing Skills Standards Council and the Material Handling Equipment Distributors Association.

“This is a very exciting program that’s new to us,” said Sean McDonald, MCVTS director of career and technical education. “The ideal candidate is someone who has mechanical skills, is good at problem-solving, and has had some introduction to tools.

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“This might be done in a student’s free time, in the evenings, on the weekends,” McDonald said.

“It is a very lucrative field, and the jobs are plentiful,” he said. “They’re hungry for people.”

As many as 300 positions are available in New Jersey, which is a hub for the logistics and distribution industries, where forklifts are essential to handling and moving materials. Most technician salaries range from $37,000 to $65,000 with full benefits and overtime opportunities.

All senior students across Middlesex County are eligible for the program, recent graduates and out-of-school youth will also be considered for entry into the pilot class. Training will commence online in March and run through June. The curriculum will include 55 hours of forklift e-learning, 10 hours of online OSHA safety instruction, and up to 15 hours of hands-on/eyes-on learning at our MCVTS Piscataway campus, followed by testing.

Instruction will be in such areas as servicing and maintaining forklifts or other industrial machines, tool maintenance, utilizing diagnostic equipment, communications with salespeople, and tracking inventory.

Employer partnerships include Eastern Lift Truck Co. in Piscataway, AJ Jersey Inc. in South Plainfield, Liftec Forklifts in South Plainfield and other local manufacturers and distribution centers.

Applications are available online at www.mcvts.net, click on “District Administration” and then “Career and Technical Education.”

The Middlesex County Vocational and Technical School District, the first full-time county vocational school district in the nation, has campuses in East Brunswick, Edison, Perth Amboy, Piscataway, and Woodbridge, offering 34 career majors