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Forklift Jobs: Forklift Driver/Operator Work and Salary

My Forklift Job In The Summer Time

Operating a forklift was one of the highlights of working at Wal-Mart. I drove and operated one regularly while working my summer job in the Garden Center. Operating heavy equipment was more of a privilege than a full work day.

Although occasionally I tried to accomplish jobs using the forklift that I didn't need a forklift to accomplish, most of the time I unloaded pallets from trucks and hauled heavy loads with the powerful forked vehicle. My job title was sales clerk at the time, so I wasn't technically a forklift operator. I wish I had, because I would have made double what I earned as a sales clerk.

I thought driving the forklift was fun at the time as a new adult, but real heavy machinery jobs are no joke. The forklift can be a dangerous, and forklifts can create dangerous situations that result in death or dismemberment. Fortunately I never had any accidents or injuries with the while operating one. I do believe that operating a forklift is pretty safe if safety procedures are followed and you are trained. Below you will find more detailed information about working conditions and pay for those who choose to sit behind the big steel forks.

Forklift Job Requirements

  • High school diploma or GED
  • Possess or be able to obtain a Forklift Operator Certification, usually offered as on the job training
  • Able to read labels, instructions, warnings, etc.
  • Able to write reports
  • Able to do basic math in different units of measure and using fractions as well as decimals
  • Work as a team member with various employees and customers or independently
  • Able to work in a fast paced environment
  • Follow all safety policies and procedures
  • Pass an initial drug screen test

Reminds Me Of Forklift Fun At Wal-Mart

You can be sure that I wasn't paid well when I operated a forklift at Wal-Mart.

You can be sure that I wasn't paid well when I operated a forklift at Wal-Mart.

Forklift Operator Pay

According to the Department of Labor and Statistics the average pay for all transportation and material moving occupations is $15.12 per hour or $31,450.00 annual pay. More specifically, heavy truck drivers' mean hourly rate is $18.62 with a yearly salary of $38,720.

Forklift operator wages will vary some by location, and if you are willing to move to Alaska the mean hourly wage is as high as $22.83, and if you work as a forklift operator in Fairbanks, Alaska you would see an average annual wage over $50,000.00. This pay is nothing to laugh at, especially considering the education requirements to get started in the field. I am glad I have some experience as a forklift operator, as it gives me something to fall back on.

Highest Paying Lowest Temperature Forklift Jobs

Hopefully you get a heated cabin in your forklift if you work in Alaska.

Hopefully you get a heated cabin in your forklift if you work in Alaska.

States With Highest Forklift Operator Wages

  1. Alaska
  2. Nevada
  3. Connecticut
  4. New Jersey
  5. Massachusetts

It should be noted that the higher pay may be due to higher standard of living in these states.  For example, you may have to pay more for a gallon of milk, a dozen eggs, gas, and beer in these states compared with others.

How To Find Forklift Jobs

  1. Stay Drug Free: One thing that seems to be common among employers seeking forklift operators is a preference for drug free candidates. Don't make yourself worry about whether you are going to have to walk away just because you are going to be drug tested.
  2. Get your high school diploma or GED
  3. Get forklift operator certification: OSHA requirements for certification can be completed by your employer and are explained by, "The employer shall certify that each operator has been trained and evaluated as required by this paragraph (l). The certification shall include the name of the operator, the date of the training, the date of the evaluation, and the identity of the person(s) performing the training or evaluation." If you don't already have this certification from a previous employer, you can also go to a that will train you to be a forklift operator. This may be even more important as the job market gets more competitive.
  4. Write a great resume: Writing your resume is too complicated for this hub alone, so you can watch the embedded YouTube video for help or read more about how to write a resume.
  5. Look for Forklift Jobs Online and/or network: You can check out or, which pulls postings from various sources such as the other two. You may find forums on these sites that will allow you to ask questions from others who may be able to give you valuable information about your forklift job search. For example, on a forum included several forklift job seekers who told each other what they had tried that did not work. One person said, "come to Chicago, there are plenty of jobs around here." Then submit applications and/or resumes keeping in mind that you will not be called back by every employer.

Picture Of Forklift Working Conditions

Here's your working conditions summed up in a picture.  A picture is worth a thousand words.

Here's your working conditions summed up in a picture. A picture is worth a thousand words.

Forklift Jobs Working Conditions

Forklift operators may work indoors or outdoors. They may sit or stand for several hours at a time. They may have to be able to lift, push, or pull more than 100 pounds.  Since there is so much variation in job environment conditions it is difficult to describe. 

Forklift jobs could become boring, depending on what type of person you are.  If you get satisfaction from seeing a job done well, then this may be a good field for you.  You will be able to see visible results of your work daily, which can be gratifying.  If you are good with visual spatial skills, you should feel right at home behind the forks.  If you are an artistic, creative type of person, you may feel that your natural skills are underused and eventually move on to something more fulfilling.

Do You Want a Forklift Job?

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.


Pierre on November 07, 2013:

What you drive is like a pallet mover. I move 85 feet trusses with my forklift. There are certainly a variety of sizes and shapes. Indoors and outdoors jobs are totally 2 different things. I load trucks and of course offload them. I mainly offload lumber and load finished material. It surely is underpaid considering the dangers. The physical work is tremendous where I work. Since thew finished product is wood, you sometimes have to push beams by hand and the average beam is probably around 600 pounds. We make them up to 18000 pounds so far. The biggest trusses I had to load were 93 feet. That is for half the truss. Very rewarding job if you like a job well done as you said. I am starting to think that the risks aren't worth it for the money I make.

forklifttraining1 on April 25, 2012:

I'm new on forklift operator. I think i will be good worker.

Thank for the useful article..

Scroll to Continue

manny sandes on April 06, 2012:

i would like to do this then working hard at sweetbay as a cashirt bagger and stocker willing to work hard $$$

waqar naqvi on March 26, 2012:

I am forklift operator i am very poor i live in pakistan my experis 6 yer pls job

delbruck on March 25, 2012:

0027780239980, has a forklift driver

kevin Chatman on March 20, 2012:

Hello my name is kevin chatman and I'm looking for a warehouse job I have five yrs of forklift email is

Kelly Kline Burnett from Madison, Wisconsin on March 04, 2012:

Two of our sons who are in college both have part-time jobs with a fork lift. Great skill. Great article. Thank you!

mudassar on March 01, 2012:

hi i m forklift opertor i need a job thts my email

Darell Ramey on February 28, 2012:

safty first and always do a pre trip check around you forklift before you put the


key in and go.

Dingaan on February 11, 2012:

i'm on a forklift training coarse but worried about how long will it take to get a job after getting a lisence. on January 28, 2012:

I'm happy to have come across this wap and learn more about forklift and more about what the job involves,

Now its my 4th year operating a 6 tones forklift here at Kenya in Africa, where we are poorly paid. As less as 12 dollars per month,

Oh my good brothers pliz help me out to get good job out there.

If u come across any please dont hesitate to notifies me, Through this email

Sydney Dandadzi on January 28, 2012:

I'm 23 yr old and i have got one yr working exp fork lift driver i'm looking for a job

devraj bhandari on January 09, 2012:

im forklift driver & store kipper assistent ,,i have 8 years experience & uae licence also ,,,,

Brandon on November 30, 2011:

I'm 19 and drive fork lift in Canada. Sadly, I am only paid 10.25 an hour. So far I have 6 months of fork lift experience. Looked up north, and if you work for the right areas doing the right things such as gold mining, you will be making 100k plus a year.

Kehinde on October 12, 2011:

When i come across this site am every excited because have been looking for such over some years now am a forklift operator can u get me a job in my field i we be glad to hear from you


badarnazir on September 30, 2011:


LoriLynn on August 29, 2011:

Very useful people on them all day. Still want to do this job. use to fast pace once i learn the routine so this would be a good career choice for this woman! Thanks

Peter Gus on December 22, 2010:

Do yourself a favor...if it's a fast paced job that requires a forklift...don't do it!

Njoteh peter on October 15, 2010:

my name i Njoteh peter onward stationery stores as a forklift operator.can you get or arrainge forklift operator job for me.

am waiting to hear from you soon

John Smith on October 16, 2009:

Thanks Blake for this article. I found it very useful for a forklift related jobs.


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