Forklift Certification in Washington – The Outlook for Forklift Operators in WA

Choosing the right career path is vital. Changing paths midstream can wreak havoc on your life, your financial situation, and your future. The choice to enter the field of material moving machine operators (forklifts, pallet jacks, scissor lifts, etc.) is one option available to you, but is it the right one? There’s a lot of growth, ongoing demand, and other benefits here that can make obtaining a forklift certification in Washington State a positive choice.

What the Federal Government Has to Say

When determining whether to go through training for forklift certification in Washington, it’s important to get a bird’s eye view of the industry. The US BLS, which is part of the Department of Labor, offers a great deal of insight into the industry and what aspiring professionals might realize over time.

  • Median Pay – The median salary in this segment is $34,830 per year. However, that varies significantly by the type of machinery being operated, the work environment, the company employing you, and more.
  • New Positions – Nationwide, the Department of Labor expects the industry to add 43,700 jobs over the next 20 years or so.
  • Growth – The industry is expected to grow around 6% in the coming years, meaning it’s roughly on par with, or slightly ahead of, other economic sectors.

As you can see, there’s a lot to be excited about in the industry. Those choosing to obtain forklift certification in Washington State can enjoy a great deal of demand for their services, a growing industry, and increasing wages. With that being said, a lot varies with location, and Washington’s economy differs from the other 49 states. What can you expect in the state’s industry?

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State Specific Outlook for Forklift Certification Holders

There’s good news for certified forklift operators in the state of Washington – you can earn one of the higher salaries in the nation. According to information from, the average salary for a forklift operator in Washington State is $34,313, which is higher than many other states. The low for the state is $26,000 and the high is $46,000. With that being said, puts the average hourly wage for forklift workers in Washington State at $14.73 per hour, based on almost 2,000 surveyed professionals.

So, you can definitely earn a good living as a forklift operator, but where might you work? What are the salary differences you might encounter with various employers out there? Below, we’ve listed some of the companies in Washington that are actively hiring forklift operators, and their pay rate at the time of this writing:

  • Reinhart Foodservice – $22 per hour
  • AECOM – $38,000 per year
  • Safeway – $25 per hour
  • Aerotek – $14 per hour
  • Republic Services – $40,000 per year
  • Rockwell Collins – $23,000 per year
  • US Foods – $38,000 per year
  • BJ’s – $29,000 per year
  • IKEA – $19 per hour
  • McLane Company – $19 per hour
  • Coastal Sunbelt Produce – $29,000 per year
  • SAIA LTL Freight – $19 per hour
  • Lineage Logistics – $16 per hour

As you can see from the information above, the pay range for forklift operators is actually quite varied. You also have the opportunity to work within a very diverse range of industries, from aerospace to logistics to retail to warehousing and everything in between. Of course, to get your foot in the door with these companies, you will need to take steps to ensure you’re the candidate they’re looking for, and that should include obtaining your forklift certification in Washington.

What’s Involved with Forklift Certification in Washington State?

The process involved with forklift certification for Washington State professionals is the same as that for those in any other state. It’s actually spelled out by OSHA, and is the same across the entire country. It is divided into two distinct phases.

Phase One: The first phase involves the theory and knowledge component of the training. This is where you learn about things like fuel types, control methods, tilt and pan, wheel types, exhaust systems and more. You will also learn how to operate a forklift safely.

Phase Two: Phase two takes what you have learned during the first phase, and puts it to work in the real world. You’ll need to demonstrate your knowledge of forklift operations, forklift safety, environmental safety, and the like for an evaluator. Often, this is a hiring manager or warehouse manager at the company where you have applied.

Who’s Responsible for Training and Certification?

Like many other skilled professional positions, forklift operators are required to receive appropriate training. Serious infractions (safety violations, accidents, injuries and the like) require a refresher course be taken. So, who’s responsible for that training? According to OSHA, it’s the employer, which is fine if you’ve already landed the job, but if you haven’t yet gotten your foot in the door, you can make the best impression by already having your certification.

For both employers and prospective operators, there are a couple of choices to be made when it comes to training delivery. In-person training is the traditional method, but that can be costly and time-consuming. A better option is online forklift certification in Washington State. This allows you to complete all the theory work online, from any Internet-connected device, at your pace.

For individuals, this could free – you only have to pay if you choose to print out your certificate. For employers, you can purchase courses in advance as you schedule re-certification, and then assign them to your employees to speed up the process, eliminate downtime, and build a better business.