A Day In the Life of a Forklift Operator: Forklift Operator Job Description

Are you ready to start, or change, your career path? Do you enjoy having responsibility? Are you trustworthy, thorough, and good at communicating?

Then a career in forklift operating may be the one for you!

Not only is it projected to have a 6% growth rate until 2026 (take that, robots), it’s got an above-average salary to boot. It’s normal for a forklift operator to make about $35,000 a year. But, the highest 10% of operators earned themselves a $55,000 paycheck!

Are you interested in this career option? But unsure of the actual forklift operator job description? Well, we’ve got your back!

Get Your Forklift Certification

Here, we discuss a day in the life of material movers, as well as what you’ve gotta do to become one.

So sit back, take notes, and get ready to learn something useful!

What Is the Average Forklift Operator Job Description?

Your work site will vary from job to job. Moreover, there are many industries that need the specialties of a forklift driver. Your scenery will depend upon which industry and location you choose. This means you could be in a warehouse, at a construction site, at a factory, manufacturing plant. . .

Your typical duties include the likes of:

  • Moving heavy materials and/or objects that can’t be safely moved by hand
  • Transporting dangerous chemicals
  • Tracking and moving inventory in a warehouse

A forklift is a huge piece of equipment that, if left unchecked, can be dangerous. Because of this, you’ll also need to perform daily checks to make sure everything is in working order.

How Do You Become a Forklift Operator?

Becoming a forklift operator entails getting certification through training. In this, you’ll learn how to operate and maintain a forklift. You’ll also learn how to stay safe on the worksite.

Employers require that you have forklift training. The reason for this is to ensure safety, as well as if they need to provide proof of competency to the OSHA if required. Training is diligent and reoccurring to ensure employees are up to code.

Some job sites need you to get extra certifications. This depends on the hazards of the job. For example, if you were handling toxic chemicals. At a minimum, to operate a forklift at a workplace, you’ll need a forklift certification.

Diligence, good communication, and thorough organization are important for smooth operations. These are all good qualities to have before applying for jobs.

What Does Forklift Certification Look Like?

Getting a certification comes with many benefits:

  • Safety for you, others, and the materials you’re moving
  • More job opportunities
  • Becoming a more efficient, informed employee
  • Having legal compliance through OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration)

A certification to drive a forklift is very important for the safety of the job. Operating a 4.5-ton vehicle in an enclosed space is dangerous. Not to mention the large, heavy fork at the end of it!

You’ll learn how to operate this vehicle in small spaces. How to track foot traffic and load positions. How to use your horn and mirrors as expected.

Additionally, you’ll learn the maintenance of the vehicle. Performing regular maintenance checks ensures the vehicle’s longevity.

It’s important to know how to perform a daily safety check, too. Every day, you should fill out a checklist that states the vehicle is in safe, working order.

You’ll need to understand the basic features of your forklift. How to enter and exit the forklift in a safe way. How to stay balanced and avoid tipping over.

As you’re dealing with heavy materials, you’ll have to learn weight and positioning, too.

OSHA Standards-Compliant Forklift Operator

This relevant information will get provided to you during an OSHA-compliant training course. You or your employer will choose a company that supplies this service. You’ll receive training, a test, and the option to pay for certification.

For your education, you’ll have the option to train in-person or online. Online school is ideal for those who want to get the training done in a quick manner. Study, take the interactive quizzes, and prepare for the test.

Moreover, some online training providers allow you to pay for your training only after you’ve passed your test.

Once you’ve passed, you’ll only need to think about periodic re-certification. Your employer will provide performance evaluations as needed.

Training is simple and straightforward — but important. Stay active in your knowledge of the operation. It’s imperative to remain safe.

What Are the Dangers Involved in Moving Materials?

Operating a forklift is a big deal. A multi-ton big deal!

Included in the forklift operator job description is the concept of safety. Making proper inspections, being consistent and careful.

If you want to become a forklift operator, get used to talking about safety. It’s a hazardous occupation. Improper technique is dangerous and possibly fatal.

There are 61,800 non-serious accidents a year. 34,900 accidents result in a serious injury. And 85 fatal accidents occur per year.

These types of accidents include:

  • A vehicle tipping over
  • Getting struck or run over by a forklift
  • Getting struck by falling material
  • Getting crushed between the forklift and a surface
  • Crushed between two vehicles
  • Falling from a platform onto the fork

These are all incidences reported by OSHA.

Reasons for these accidents can be:

  • Poor forklift maintenance
  • Poor training for forklift operators
  • A confined or poorly-designed workspace
  • Improper loading
  • Reckless driving

Much like driving on the roads, forklifts are all about caution, prevention, and safety. Additionally, you’re not supposed to speed, take sharp turns, or merge without checking your mirrors.

Many of these incidents are avoidable through prevention and awareness!

Stressed? Fork’get About It — You’re Ready!

As you can see from the forklift operator job description, it’s a solid career choice. It’s straightforward. And it’s not particularly hard, either (as long as you’re diligent).

Being a forklift operator is a viable, profitable career choice for anyone 18 and up.

Once you get your certification, you’re only a job interview away from an awesome career. Here’s how to perfect your resume and land your dream job!