Want to be a: fork lift truck operator?

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Responsible for loading and unloading goods, a Forklift Truck Operator may move, locate, relocate, stack and count merchandise.  The operator is also accountable for the safe and efficient operation of the vehicle.

If you’re able to complete tasks effectively and efficiently and are good at judging weights and measurements, this could be the perfect role for you.

What’s expected?

Your main duties as a Forklift Truck Operator include:

  •          loading and unloading goods from vehicles or aircraft
  •          relocating pallets or crated goods within the storage facility
  •          stacking goods in the correct bays and following stock rotation instructions
  •          ensuring loads are safe and secure 

There are various types of forklift truck that you may have to operate:

  •          Counterbalance
  •          Telescopic handlers
  •          Reach trucks
  •          Hand pallet trucks
  •          Side loading trucks

Hours and Conditions

Normal working hours are between 35 and 42 per week.  Shift work is commonplace, with overtime usually available.  As a Forklift Truck Operator, you’ll generally work indoors within a factory or warehouse or outdoors in a yard, port or airport.


Salaries usually range from minimum wage (around £12,000 a year) up to £15,000 a year.  Experienced operators can earn between £16,000 and £21,000 per year.  You may also receive allowances for shift or night time work.

Required Skills, Interests and Qualities

Forklift Truck Operators should:

  •          have a responsible and mature approach to work
  •          be able to work effectively and efficiently
  •          have good hand-eye coordination to operate a truck
  •          have the ability to assess weight and judge distances and heights
  •          have an awareness of health and safety issues

Entry Requirements

There are no set entry requirements when looking to train as a forklift operator, although it may be beneficial to have a GCSE or equivalent level in Maths and English.  However, there is a minimum age to start training of 16 or 18 in ports.

Before you can operate a forklift truck, you must complete approved forklift training, which may be provided by your employer.  As such, any previous experience in a warehouse or factory environment may prove advantageous when applying for a job.

An apprenticeship in Warehousing and Storage may be available in your area – this is dependent on the local jobs market and the skill set required. 

Training and Future Development

You will be provided with basic training once you start your new role.  This will cover operating the forklift truck.  This usually lasts three to five days and would take place onsite and combine theory with practical tasks.

You’ll be expected to pass an exam at the end of the training which covers

  •          equipment checks
  •          manoeuvring the truck within a confined space, with and without a load
  •          unloading and stacking products at various heights

You should receive written confirmation or certificate on successful completion of your training in case you wish to change employers, as unlike a driving licence, you will not be issued an official forklift licence.

There is additional training that may be available to you

  •          Level 2 Award/Certificate in Forklift Truck Operations
  •          Level 2 Award/Certificate in Forklift Truck (Counter-balance) Operations


Forklift Truck Operators are required in an array of factories, retail stores and warehouses, builders’ merchants, ports, airports and depots.

With experience your promotional opportunities include becoming a supervisor or team leader.  With further training, forklift instructor or maintenance engineer are distinct possibilities.

Want to know how to get a job as a fork lift truck operator? Talk to us!

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