The primary job of a forklift operator is to operate and manage forklifts used for moving, locating, relocating, stacking, and counting merchandise in various settings, such as construction sites and warehouses. As a forklift operator, you will unload shipments properly and safely, and stack and store them in their designated areas. In addition, you will need to report any quality variances and assist in physical inventories. Other duties that you may perform include ensuring that stock rotation is done properly, inspecting and performing preventative maintenance of forklift and other equipment, and ensuring that inventory security and control are maintained.

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Forklift Responsibilities

Here are examples of responsibilities from real forklift resumes representing typical tasks they are likely to perform in their roles.

  • Provide a safe work environment following all company policy and OSHA safety procedures.
  • Clean and maintain the warehouse in compliance with OSHA safety has their period operate forklifts and other heavy machinery safely.
  • Prepare pallets by following procedures for stacking arrangement and properly tagging pallets.
  • Operate forklifts, lift beams, swivel-hooks and hoists.
  • Run and monitor extrusion processes of polymer products, using dip pan hoppers, x-hoppers and delivery processes.
  • Move inventory in support of logistics management.

Forklift Job Description

Between the years 2018 and 2028, forklift jobs are expected to undergo a growth rate described as "as fast as average" at 4%, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. So if the thought "should I become a forklift?" Has crossed your mind, maybe you should take the growth rate into account. In addition, the number of forklift opportunities that are projected to become available by 2028 is 32,600.

On average, the forklift annual salary is $32,015 per year, which translates to $15.39 an hour. Generally speaking, forklifts earn anywhere from $26,000 to $39,000 a year, which means that the top-earning forklifts make $8,000 more than the ones at the lower end of the spectrum.

It's hard work to become a forklift, but even the most dedicated employees consider switching careers from time to time. Whether you're interested in a more challenging position or just looking for a fresh start, we've compiled extensive information on becoming a warehouse machine operator, driver/material handler, cherry picker operator, and reach truck operator.

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Forklift Skills and Personality Traits

We calculated that 21% of Forklifts are proficient in Pallets, Sit-Down Forklift, and Basic Math. They’re also known for soft skills such as Alertness, Communication skills, and Coordination.

We break down the percentage of Forklifts that have these skills listed on their resume here:

  • Pallets, 21%

    Prepared pallets by following procedures for stacking arrangement and properly tagging pallets.

  • Sit-Down Forklift, 10%

    Operated roll-clamp/ sit-down forklift daily transporting parts throughout warehouse.

  • Basic Math, 7%

    Apply basic mathematical concepts such as adding, subtracting, multiplying, dividing and knowledge of weights and measures.

  • Shipping Receiving, 5%

    General Warehouse/Light Industrial Shipping Receiving.

  • RF Scanner, 4%

    Awarded outstanding performance 3 times Safety committee CPR certified Skills Used Sit down forklift RF Scanners Computer Safety Committee CPR training

  • Warehouse Environment, 4%

    Operate electric stand up reach truck with on board computer systems in a cold storage warehouse environment

Choose From 10+ Customizable Forklift Resume templates

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Most forklifts list "pallets," "sit-down forklift," and "basic math" as skills on their resumes. We go into more details on the most important forklift responsibilities here:

  • Alertness can be considered to be the most important personality trait for a forklift to have. According to a forklift resume, "material moving machine operators must be aware of their surroundings while operating machinery." Forklifts are able to use alertness in the following example we gathered from a resume: "load and unload trucks and organize the warehouse skills used organization, fork lift skills, alertness, attention to details"
  • Another commonly found skill for being able to perform forklift duties is the following: communication skills. According to a forklift resume, "material moving machine operators signal and direct workers to load and unload material." Check out this example of how forklifts use communication skills: "prepare bills, receive pallets with rf scanners, verify space available, constantly in communication with supervisors. "
  • Forklifts are also known for coordination, which can be critical when it comes to performing their duties. An example of why this skill is important is shown by this snippet that we found in a forklift resume: "material moving machine operators should have steady hands and feet to guide and control heavy machinery precisely" We also found this resume example that details how this skill is put to the test: "warehouse coordination inventory controls feed assembly line"
  • A thorough review of lots of resumes revealed to us that "mechanical skills" is important to completing forklift responsibilities. This resume example shows just one way forklifts use this skill: "material moving machine operators make minor adjustments to their machines and perform basic maintenance on them." Here's an example of how this skill is used from a resume that represents typical forklift tasks: "checked the mechanical state of forklift, verifying tires, fluid levels and forks. "
  • As part of the forklift description, you might find that one of the skills that might be helpful to the job is "visual ability." A forklift resume included this snippet: "material moving machine operators must be able to see clearly where they are driving or what they are moving" This skill could be useful in this scenario: "perform visual quality part checks * load job/material per production needs * use of micrometers and calipers * load/unload trucks on dock"
  • See the full list of forklift skills.

    Those forklifts who do attend college, typically earn either business degrees or general studies degrees. Less commonly earned degrees for forklifts include criminal justice degrees or automotive technology degrees.

    When you're ready to become a forklift, you might wonder which companies hire forklifts. According to our research through forklift resumes, forklifts are mostly hired by West Fraser, Sysco, and 84 Lumber. Now is a good time to apply as West Fraser has 70 forklifts job openings, and there are 33 at Sysco and 32 at 84 Lumber.

    If you're interested in companies where forklifts make the most money, you'll want to apply for positions at Steel Dynamics, Olympic Steel, and ADM. We found that at Steel Dynamics, the average forklift salary is $42,386. Whereas at Olympic Steel, forklifts earn roughly $41,380. And at ADM, they make an average salary of $39,971.

    View more details on forklift salaries across the United States.

    If you earned a degree from the top 100 educational institutions in the United States, you might want to take a look at Walmart, The Home Depot, and Adecco. These three companies have hired a significant number of forklifts from these institutions.

    The three companies that hire the most prestigious forklifts are:

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    What Warehouse Machine Operators Do

    Warehouse machine operators perform various tasks for their employers. These include setting up, operating, monitoring, and troubleshooting machinery, inspecting parts for specifications and any potential damage, and reading and interpreting diagrams and blueprints to position and secure the machines. They are expected to communicate with other team members and provide support for continuous production. Most employers are looking to hire someone with knowledge of production and safety procedures, previous experience as a machine operator, and analytical skills.

    In this section, we take a look at the annual salaries of other professions. Take warehouse machine operator for example. On average, the warehouse machine operators annual salary is $1,781 higher than what forklifts make on average every year.

    Even though forklifts and warehouse machine operators have vast differences in their careers, a few of the skills required to do both jobs are similar. For example, both careers require sit-down forklift, basic math, and shipping receiving in the day-to-day roles.

    As far as similarities go, this is where it ends because a forklift responsibility requires skills such as "pallets," "math," "osha," and "work ethic." Whereas a warehouse machine operator is skilled in "forklift operation," "machine operation," "warehouse equipment," and "warehouse inventory." So if you're looking for what truly separates the two careers, you've found it.

    Warehouse machine operators tend to make the most money in the manufacturing industry by averaging a salary of $36,642. In contrast, forklifts make the biggest average salary of $34,824 in the transportation industry.

    The education levels that warehouse machine operators earn is a bit different than that of forklifts. In particular, warehouse machine operators are 0.2% less likely to graduate with a Master's Degree than a forklift. Additionally, they're 0.6% less likely to earn a Doctoral Degree.

    What Are The Duties Of a Driver/Material Handler?

    Primarily, driver/material handlers help maintain the production and distribution of products through inventory pullout, production materials, and supplies delivery, and finished product staging. Material handlers manage the transport of equipment or ammunition and conduct the planning and execution functions for effective grind force training. They pick and audit hazmat materials and deliver them to their customers. Also, they develop and expedite clear and effective communication with their customers.

    Now we're going to look at the driver/material handler profession. On average, driver/material handlers earn a $4,204 higher salary than forklifts a year.

    A similarity between the two careers of forklifts and driver/material handlers are a few of the skills associated with both roles. We used resumes from both professions to find that both use skills like "pallets," "shipping receiving," and "rf scanner. "

    While some skills are similar in these professions, other skills aren't so similar. For example, several resumes showed us that forklift responsibilities requires skills like "sit-down forklift," "basic math," "math," and "warehouse environment." But a driver/material handler might use skills, such as, "cdl," "customer service," "safety procedures," and "straight truck."

    Driver/material handlers may earn a higher salary than forklifts, but driver/material handlers earn the most pay in the automotive industry with an average salary of $37,351. On the other side of things, forklifts receive higher paychecks in the transportation industry where they earn an average of $34,824.

    In general, driver/material handlers study at similar levels of education than forklifts. They're 0.5% more likely to obtain a Master's Degree while being 0.6% less likely to earn a Doctoral Degree.

    How a Cherry Picker Operator Compares

    Cherry pickers perform a safe and efficient operation of motorized lift vehicles in pulling customer order-based products. The cherry pickers manage different warehouse operating systems and associates to support processing and internal order logistics. They perform preventive maintenance on pallet packs, machines, cherry pickers, and forklifts. It is part of their job to count, verify, and check documents for completeness and accuracy. The skills to develop for this job include warehouse environment, clamp, and pallet jack operations.

    The third profession we take a look at is cherry picker operator. On an average scale, these workers bring in higher salaries than forklifts. In fact, they make a $1,941 higher salary per year.

    By looking over several forklifts and cherry picker operators resumes, we found that both roles utilize similar skills, such as "pallets," "sit-down forklift," and "rf scanner." But beyond that the careers look very different.

    Some important key differences between the two careers are a few of the skills necessary to fulfill responsibilities. Some examples from forklift resumes include skills like "basic math," "shipping receiving," "math," and "osha," whereas a cherry picker operator might be skilled in "cherry-picker," "clamp," "warehouse management system," and "quality standards. "

    Interestingly enough, cherry picker operators earn the most pay in the automotive industry, where they command an average salary of $36,820. As mentioned previously, forklifts highest annual salary comes from the transportation industry with an average salary of $34,824.

    When it comes to education, cherry picker operators tend to earn similar education levels than forklifts. In fact, they're 0.0% more likely to earn a Master's Degree, and 0.5% more likely to graduate with a Doctoral Degree.

    Description Of a Reach Truck Operator

    Ramp supervisors oversee safety procedures, ramp equipment, and company policies. They will be tasked with oversight of airport ramp operations, directing the loading and unloading of aircraft cargo and baggage, assurance of proper ramp functions, and compliance with the airport and the government's regulations. Ramp supervisors will also train and manage other staff members.

    Reach truck operators tend to earn a higher pay than forklifts by about $2,610 per year.

    While their salaries may vary, forklifts and reach truck operators both use similar skills to perform their jobs. Resumes from both professions include skills like "pallets," "sit-down forklift," and "basic math. "

    Each job requires different skills like "osha," "assembly line," "selector," and "unload trucks," which might show up on a forklift resume. Whereas reach truck operator might include skills like "sit," "safety procedures," "inbound shipments," and "putaway."

    In general, reach truck operators make a higher salary in the manufacturing industry with an average of $37,961. The highest forklift annual salary stems from the transportation industry.

    In general, reach truck operators reach similar levels of education when compared to forklifts resumes. Reach truck operators are 0.1% more likely to earn their Master's Degree and 0.3% less likely to graduate with a Doctoral Degree.