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Become A Forklift Operator

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Working As A Forklift Operator

  • Operating Vehicles, Mechanized Devices, or Equipment
  • Inspecting Equipment, Structures, or Material
  • Communicating with Supervisors, Peers, or Subordinates
  • Handling and Moving Objects
  • Getting Information
  • Unpleasant/Hazardous Environment

  • Stressful

  • $26,000

    Average Salary

What Does A Forklift Operator Do

A Forklift Operator is responsible for driving or operating a forklift. Their primary duties include examining products to verify conformity to quality standards and transporting material or equipment to and from designated areas in the facility.

How To Become A Forklift Operator

Education and training requirements vary by the occupation. Crane operators and excavating machine operators usually have several years of experience in related occupations, such as construction equipment operators or hoist or winch operators.


Although no formal education is usually required, some companies prefer material moving machine operators to have a high school diploma. For crane operators, excavating machine operators, and dredge operators, however, a high school diploma or equivalent is typically required.


Most material moving machine operators are trained on the job in less than a month. Some machines are more complex than others, such as cranes as compared with industrial trucks such as forklifts. Therefore, the amount of time spent in training will vary with the type of machine the operator is using. Learning to operate a forklift or an industrial truck in warehouses, for example, may take only a few days. Training to operate a crane for port operations may take several months. Most workers are trained by a supervisor or another experienced employee.

The International Union of Operating Engineers offers apprenticeship programs for heavy equipment operators, such as excavating machine operators or crane operators. Apprenticeships combine paid on-the-job training with technical instruction.

During their training, material moving machine operators learn a number of safety rules, many of which are standardized through the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) and the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA). Employers must certify that each operator has received the proper training. Operators who work with hazardous materials receive further specialized training.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

A number of states and several cities require crane operators to be licensed. To get a license, operators typically must complete a skills test in which they show that they can control a crane. They also must pass a written exam that tests their knowledge of safety rules and procedures. Some crane operators and industrial truck and tractor operators may obtain certification, which includes passing a written exam.

Work Experience in a Related Occupation

Crane operators and excavating machine operators usually have several years of experience working as construction equipment operators or hoist and winch operators. 

Important Qualities

Alertness. Material moving machine operators must be aware of their surroundings while operating machinery.

Hand–eye–foot coordination. Material moving machine operators should have steady hands and feet to guide and control heavy machinery precisely. They use hand controls to maneuver their machines through tight spaces, around large objects, and on uneven surfaces.

Mechanical skills. Material moving machine operators make minor adjustments to their machines and perform basic maintenance.

Visual ability. Material moving machine operators must be able to clearly see where they are driving or what they are moving. They must also watch for nearby workers, who may unknowingly be in their path.

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Forklift Operator jobs

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Forklift Operator Career Paths

Forklift Operator
Operator Technician Specialist
Account Manager
5 Yearsyrs
Warehouse Manager Operations Manager General Manager
Area Manager
7 Yearsyrs
Maintenance Worker Security Officer Night Auditor
Assistant General Manager
5 Yearsyrs
Delivery Driver Service Technician Maintenance Supervisor
Facilities Manager
8 Yearsyrs
Numerical Control Operator Machinist Carpenter
General Contractor
6 Yearsyrs
Technician Service Technician Service Manager
General Manager
7 Yearsyrs
Warehouse Lead Warehouse Supervisor Warehouse Manager
Logistics Manager
7 Yearsyrs
Welder Maintenance Technician
Maintenance Director
11 Yearsyrs
Service Technician Service Manager Production Manager
Material Manager
9 Yearsyrs
Technician Field Service Technician Service Manager
Operations Manager
7 Yearsyrs
Security Officer Technician Operations Manager
Plant Manager
11 Yearsyrs
Maintenance Technician Production Supervisor
Production Manager
6 Yearsyrs
Maintenance Technician Maintenance Manager Operations Manager
Purchasing Manager
9 Yearsyrs
Security Officer Account Manager Account Executive
Sales Manager
5 Yearsyrs
Production Supervisor Warehouse Supervisor Shipping Supervisor
Shipping Manager
5 Yearsyrs
Driver Dispatcher Operations Manager
Site Manager
7 Yearsyrs
Welder Foreman
9 Yearsyrs
Warehouse Manager Logistics Manager
Transportation Manager
8 Yearsyrs
Operator Production Operator Production Supervisor
Warehouse Manager
5 Yearsyrs
Delivery Driver Maintenance Technician Production Supervisor
Warehouse Supervisor
5 Yearsyrs
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Forklift Operator Demographics


  • Male

  • Female

  • Unknown



  • White

  • Hispanic or Latino

  • Asian

  • Unknown

  • Black or African American

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Languages Spoken

  • Spanish

  • French

  • Carrier

  • German

  • Arabic

  • Portuguese

  • Polish

  • Japanese

  • Hindi

  • Russian

  • Italian

  • Samoan

  • Urdu

  • Hmong

  • Ukrainian

  • Dari

  • Kurdish

  • Dakota

  • Greek

  • Swedish

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Forklift Operator

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Forklift Operator Education

Forklift Operator

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Real Forklift Operator Salaries

Job Title Company Location Start Date Salary
Forklift Operator BMC West Corporation Indio, CA Apr 07, 2016 $33,162
Forklift Operator LMS Intellibound Inc. Amarillo, TX May 29, 2008 $32,448
Forklift Operator LMS Intellibound Inc. Amarillo, TX May 05, 2008 $32,448
Forklift Operator LMS Intellibound Inc. CA Mar 12, 2008 $32,448
Forklift Operator ABC Resources, Incorporated Ontario, CA Aug 12, 2010 $27,569
Forklift Operator Maxey Trailers Mfg Inc. TX Oct 22, 2015 $24,000

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Top Skills for A Forklift Operator


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Top Forklift Operator Skills

  1. Electric Pallet Jack
  2. Forklift Operation
  3. Safety Procedures
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Maneuver pallet on an electric pallet jack until full or order is complete.
  • general forklift operation * food preparation * cleaning
  • Structured and maintained a neat and clean work environment, while ensuring safety procedures were followed.
  • Pick up unload trucks from shipping take to right location also pick up loose or broken pellets.
  • Operated propane forklift with scale to unload/load freight, rf scanner, id receive/ship freight.

Top Forklift Operator Employers

Forklift Operator Videos

Forklift Operator Safety Training (Spanish)

Forklift Operator Safety Training

Transport Loader (Forklift Operator) Video