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Your Guide to Becoming a Forklift Operator

Operating a forklift takes a degree of skill and knowledge of health and safety for the job to be done effectively. If you’re wondering how to become a forklift driver, or whether it’s even the right job for you, this article will explore key questions such as standard duties, salary expectations, training requirements, and how to start a career in this area. 

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Job description for a forklift operator 

A job description may vary depending on the workplace, but generally a forklift operator is responsible for operating a forklift machine to stack, transport and maneuver goods, containers or pallets. Often this is carried out in an indoor warehouse or factory setting, but operators may also be required for construction sites, docks, waste management centres, and a range of other outdoor settings. 

The duties of a forklift operator could include: 

  • Managing and storing delivered goods safely and efficiently 
  • Checking goods to ensure they are of high standard and quality 
  • Lifting and maneuvering sometimes heavy goods, containers and pallets
  • Loading and unloading from lorries, planes and other vehicles 
  • Being responsible for the maintenance and upkeep of the forklift vehicle 
  • Communicating with other departments and personnel on status of deliveries/goods/pallets, either in person or over radio 
  • Completing necessary paperwork to required standards 

Progression in the job generally leads to managerial positions, such as a team leader or supervisor. You may also, with the appropriate training, be able to instruct others on how to use a forklift or move into other roles around the warehouse or site. 

Training 

Depending on the role, a full driving license may sometimes be required. Regardless of whether or not you have a driving license, anyone who becomes a forklift operator must have passed a forklift training course. These may be provided by an employer or by a specialist third party, such as East Midlands Forklifts. Already having passed a forklift training course may stand your application in better stead with an employer, as this bypasses the need to train you up. 

Certainly during training with an external training company, you will be taught by accredited instructors to arm you with essential skills and knowledge to operate a particular forklift machine in a safe, efficient and legally-compliant manner. There are an array of different forklift types available, so you will need to ensure the training course you enrol on is for the specific type of forklift you wish to drive. 

Availability and demand

Availability of forklift operator jobs will depend mostly on where you live and how easily you can travel for work. However, demand for forklift operators has enjoyed a steady increase in recent years as e-commerce industries grow and more consumers buy online rather than in physical stores. 

Salary 

According to the National Careers Service page, forklift drivers can expect to earn between £17,000 and £28,000 per year. These figures will depend on your employer, your previous experience, and also whether you’re taking on any additional responsibilities, such as supervision. 

Finding a job 

Once you’ve completed your training, the job search can begin – unless you’re seeking jobs where training is delivered on-the-job, in which case your job hunt can begin sooner. You can use all the usual methods of job hunting, such as recruitment agencies, job search engines, applying directly, or phoning and visiting local companies to enquire in person. You can also start your career through the apprenticeship route; browse local opportunities with the government’s ‘find an apprenticeship’ search tool, available online. Based in the East Midlands? Please feel free to check our vacancies page to see if we have anything available at this time. 

Searching for specialist forklift driver training for yourself or employees? Here at East Midlands Forklifts, we have over 25 years’ experience as providers of professional training courses for a variety of vehicles – including articulated forklifts, counterbalance, multi-directional, and reach forklifts. We also offer refresher courses to ensure your skills are completely up-to-date. To discover more about our legally-compliant forklift training services across the East Midlands area, please contact us today.  

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