Forklift operators mainly work out of sight. Although they merely work backstage and out of the limelight, their job is extremely crucial when it comes to managing, moving, and transporting heavy loads from one place to another. As a forklift operator, you will manage, move, and identify required stocks and loads.

Some of the duties and responsibilities that you will be performing in this capacity include unloading materials and merchandise from incoming vehicles and stacking them in their assigned designations. Moreover, you will also locate and move stock, identify damages and report shortage or quality deficiencies, transport raw materials, inspect machinery, keeping records of inventory, comply with the company's policies and guidelines, and help maintain a safe and orderly work environment. Essential skills required for this job are communication, physical stamina, hand-eye coordination, and attention to detail.

There are no formal educational requirements needed for this role; however, having a high school diploma or a GED may prove beneficial. Moreover, the technical know-how of a forklift is extremely crucial for this job. Valid certification for forklift operation is also needed. The average hourly pay for this position is $13.64, which amounts to $28,378 annually.

What Does a Forklift Do

There are certain skills that many forklifts 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.

Learn more about what a Forklift does

How To Become a Forklift

If you're interested in becoming a forklift, one of the first things to consider is how much education you need. We've determined that 4.5% of forklifts have a bachelor's degree. In terms of higher education levels, we found that 0.6% of forklifts have master's degrees. Even though some forklifts have a college degree, it's possible to become one with only a high school degree or GED.

Learn More About How To Become a Forklift

Forklift Career Paths

Average Salary for a Forklift

Forklifts in America make an average salary of $32,015 per year or $15 per hour. The top 10 percent makes over $39,000 per year, while the bottom 10 percent under $26,000 per year.
Average Forklift Salary
$32,015 Yearly
$15.39 hourly

What Am I Worth?


Roles and Types of Forklift

The role of a forklift 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 responsibilities:

  • Monitors and loads material as needed to safely produce required production. Complies with all company safety rules
  • Drive electrical powered industrial truck equipped with lifting devices, such as a forklift, to push, pull, lift, stack, tier, or move products, equipment or materials in the distribution center position fork over/under/around loaded pallets, skids, boxes, products, or materials to transport to a designated area unload
  • Read, interpret, and apply warehouse management system (wms) order instructions recognize

There are several types of forklift, including:

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

Picker And Packer


A packer works in a warehouse or distribution center, retrieving and organizing products to fulfill daily retail orders. They manage the inventory of the warehouse, package and label goods in preparation for shipping.

An appropriate rotation of products in a warehouse is essential, and packers see to it that this is maintained. They perform quality checks regularly, as well and report any problems they might come across. A clean warehouse is a safe warehouse, and packers are expected to live by this motto.

They use specific equipment to handle large products and to manage the large spaces of a warehouse. Forklifts, pallet wrappers, and dolly loaders are at their disposal, which they need to be able to operate safely and report any mechanical issues if they occur.
  • Average Salary: $30,841
  • Degree: High School Diploma

Forklift Driver


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?
  • Average Salary: $33,476
  • Degree: High School Diploma

States With The Most Forklift Jobs

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

Average Salary: Job Openings:

Number Of Forklift Jobs By State

RankStateNumber of JobsAverage Salary
3New Jersey1,277$31,699
12North Carolina747$28,600
15New York665$32,937
25South Carolina340$28,259
33New Hampshire145$30,252
37Rhode Island127$33,578
39North Dakota90$40,763
42South Dakota61$35,492
45West Virginia45$29,633
46New Mexico39$31,521

Forklift Education

Forklift Majors

19.4 %

Forklift Degrees

High School Diploma

58.1 %


23.3 %


7.2 %

Top Skills For a Forklift

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, 21.5% of forklifts listed pallets on their resume, but soft skills such as alertness and communication skills are important as well.

  • Pallets, 21.5%
  • Sit-Down Forklift, 10.4%
  • Basic Math, 7.0%
  • Shipping Receiving, 5.2%
  • RF Scanner, 4.5%
  • Other Skills, 51.4%

Choose From 10+ Customizable Forklift Resume templates

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

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Forklift Demographics

Forklift Gender Distribution


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

  • Among forklifts, 8.0% of them are women, while 92.0% are men.

  • The most common race/ethnicity among forklifts is White, which makes up 57.8% of all forklifts.

  • The most common foreign language among forklifts is Spanish at 88.4%.

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Best States For a Forklift

Some places are better than others when it comes to starting a career as a forklift. The best states for people in this position are Alaska, North Dakota, Minnesota, and Hawaii. Forklifts make the most in Alaska with an average salary of $41,366. Whereas in North Dakota and Minnesota, they would average $40,763 and $38,054, respectively. While forklifts would only make an average of $36,340 in Hawaii, 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. North Dakota

Total Forklift Jobs: 90
Highest 10% Earn:
Location Quotient:

2. Wisconsin

Total Forklift Jobs: 724
Highest 10% Earn:
Location Quotient:

3. Minnesota

Total Forklift Jobs: 619
Highest 10% Earn:
Location Quotient:
Full List Of Best States For Forklifts

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Top Forklift Employers

Most Common Employers For Forklift

RankCompanyAverage SalaryHourly RateJob Openings
1J.R. Simplot$39,487$18.989
2Exel Inc.$37,502$18.0321
7Performance Food Group$32,232$15.509
8LSI Staffing$31,895$15.3311
9Elwood Staffing$31,820$15.3026
10The Reserves Network$31,321$15.0625

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