Being a forklift driver is the dream of many a young child. Some of the luckier ones get to fulfill this fantasy.

Forklift drivers operate forklifts and other industrial trucks to pull products, transport material, load and unload deliveries on trucks, trains, or ships. They generally populate warehouses and storage units.

Forklifts are pretty dangerous if you do not know how they work, so you need a license to operate one. Although heavy lifting without a forklift is even more so, that is why workers experience significantly fewer back injuries in facilities that use them. Who would have known?

What Does a Forklift Driver Do

There are certain skills that many forklift drivers have in order to accomplish their responsibilities. By taking a look through resumes, we were able to narrow down the most common skills for a person in this position. We discovered that a lot of resumes listed alertness, communication skills and coordination.

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How To Become a Forklift Driver

If you're interested in becoming a forklift driver, one of the first things to consider is how much education you need. We've determined that 7.5% of forklift drivers have a bachelor's degree. In terms of higher education levels, we found that 0.5% of forklift drivers have master's degrees. Even though some forklift drivers have a college degree, it's possible to become one with only a high school degree or GED.

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Forklift Driver Job Description

A forklift driver is a trained professional responsible for the use and control of a forklift. Their duties include transporting packets of products in a warehouse or other storage facility or a store, as well as the maintenance of the forklift.

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Forklift Driver Career Paths

Average Salary for a Forklift Driver

Forklift Drivers in America make an average salary of $33,476 per year or $16 per hour. The top 10 percent makes over $41,000 per year, while the bottom 10 percent under $26,000 per year.
Average Forklift Driver Salary
$33,476 Yearly
$16.09 hourly

What Am I Worth?


Roles and Types of Forklift Driver

The role of a forklift driver includes a wide range of responsibilities. These responsibilities can vary based on an individual's specific job, company, or industry.Here are some general forklift driver responsibilities:

  • Read, interpret, and apply warehouse management system (wms) order instructions recognize
  • Include the following. Other duties may be assigned. Completes daily forklift checklist, including blowing the radiator free of “lint”
  • Sorting and arranging product on pallets storing product or loading truck with pallets of product obtain daily order sheets from supervisor use fork-lift to drive pallets through the warehouse to the loading dock shrink wrap pallets for delivery take orders from the headset

There are several types of forklift driver, including:



Almost anyone can drive a car, but not everyone gets paid for it. Drivers are responsible for everything from driving customers from point A to point B, to delivering packages to clients, you have a range of what exactly you want to be driving. If you're going to be delivering packages, you'll want to build up your upper body strength in case you have to lift heavy objects.

As far as driving people around, you might want to brush up on your communication skills, either that or blast your music during the ride. Some drivers are especially helpful to tourists who are curious about the area. In these instances, your favorite restaurant or activity might come in useful.

The hours you'll work as a driver can range dramatically. Your work schedule will depend on who you're working for and if you're able to set your own hours. There are some companies where you'll work 60 hours in 7 days, but other companies will only require 40 hours. If there's anything to take away from being a driver, it's that the job is nothing less than interesting.

  • Average Salary: $34,771
  • Degree: High School Diploma

Forklift Operator


As a forklift operator, the majority of your time will be spent riding around on a forklift. You'll use it to move objects around so, unfortunately, there will be no time for any funny business. In fact, you'll probably need to follow some safety rules to ensure no one gets hurt.

There really aren't any formal education requirements, but you will probably need to be trained on how to operate the machine. Since products and materials are shipped at all times, you may need to stay late or even work an overnight shift from time to time.

And you better believe you'll get some overtime hours from being a forklift operator, which will be a nice little surprise when it's payday. Plus, did we mention you get to drive a forklift around. Sure, you have to be careful moving objects and trying to avoid running over your co-workers but, hey, at least you get to drive a forklift.

  • Average Salary: $34,213
  • Degree: High School Diploma

Material Handler


Material handlers, well, they handle materials. But you probably already knew that. Generally, the handling portion extends to moving, shelving, loading and unloading said materials. The materials can vary depending on what industry you're working in.

Materials aren't just shipped on a 9-5 schedule. The materials will arrive at any time of the day or night. So you may need to be prepared to work some overnight shifts. As a material handler, the only requirement to the job is being able to physically perform your job duties. So as long as you can do that, you won't have any problems handling material.
  • Average Salary: $33,215
  • Degree: High School Diploma

States With The Most Forklift Driver Jobs

Mouse over a state to see the number of active forklift driver jobs in each state. The darker areas on the map show where forklift drivers earn the highest salaries across all 50 states.

Average Salary: Job Openings:

Number Of Forklift Driver Jobs By State

Forklift Driver Education

Forklift Driver Majors

23.9 %

Forklift Driver Degrees

High School Diploma

60.8 %


13.9 %


12.3 %

Top Skills For a Forklift Driver

The skills section on your resume can be almost as important as the experience section, so you want it to be an accurate portrayal of what you can do. Luckily, we've found all of the skills you'll need so even if you don't have these skills yet, you know what you need to work on. Out of all the resumes we looked through, 25.4% of forklift drivers listed pallets on their resume, but soft skills such as alertness and communication skills are important as well.

  • Pallets, 25.4%
  • Electric Pallet Jack, 12.0%
  • Safety Procedures, 7.8%
  • Load Trucks, 4.8%
  • Stand-Up Forklift, 4.1%
  • Other Skills, 45.9%

Choose From 10+ Customizable Forklift Driver Resume templates

Zippia allows you to choose from different easy-to-use Forklift Driver templates, and provides you with expert advice. Using the templates, you can rest assured that the structure and format of your Forklift Driver resume is top notch. Choose a template with the colors, fonts & text sizes that are appropriate for your industry.

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Forklift Driver Demographics

Forklift Driver Gender Distribution


After extensive research and analysis, Zippia's data science team found that:

  • Among forklift drivers, 9.0% of them are women, while 91.0% are men.

  • The most common race/ethnicity among forklift drivers is White, which makes up 56.3% of all forklift drivers.

  • The most common foreign language among forklift drivers is Spanish at 86.2%.

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Best States For a Forklift Driver

Some places are better than others when it comes to starting a career as a forklift driver. The best states for people in this position are Alaska, North Dakota, Minnesota, and Washington. Forklift drivers make the most in Alaska with an average salary of $43,069. Whereas in North Dakota and Minnesota, they would average $42,539 and $38,789, respectively. While forklift drivers would only make an average of $37,877 in Washington, you would still make more there than in the rest of the country. We determined these as the best states based on job availability and pay. By finding the median salary, cost of living, and using the Bureau of Labor Statistics' Location Quotient, we narrowed down our list of states to these four.

1. Wisconsin

Total Forklift Driver Jobs: 776
Highest 10% Earn:
Location Quotient:

2. Minnesota

Total Forklift Driver Jobs: 660
Highest 10% Earn:
Location Quotient:

3. North Dakota

Total Forklift Driver Jobs: 73
Highest 10% Earn:
Location Quotient:
Full List Of Best States For Forklift Drivers

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Top Forklift Driver Employers

Most Common Employers For Forklift Driver

RankCompanyAverage SalaryHourly RateJob Openings
1Costco Wholesale$41,114$19.77269
2Tyson Foods$40,791$19.61108
3The Home Depot$39,185$18.84279
4The Coca-Cola Company$38,721$18.62181
6Exel Inc.$38,237$18.38187
7Lineage Logistics$35,503$17.07104
10Lowe's Companies$34,642$16.65177

Forklift Driver Videos

Becoming a Forklift Driver FAQs

How Long Does It Take To Become A Forklift Driver?

It takes 3 years of professional experience to become a forklift driver. That is the time it takes to learn specific forklift driver skills, but does not account for time spent in formal education.

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