What Do Forklift Truck Drivers Do?
Forklift truck drivers (or operators) use forklift machines to carry materials around, among other places, warehouses, construction sites and storage yards.
Benefits of Working as a Forklift Truck Driver
There are a number of benefits to working as a forklift truck driver, all of which mean that jobs are often in high demand. Upsides of this line of work include:
- Availability of work: From the smallest warehouse to the largest logistics hub, forklift truck operators are always in high demand. Indeed, a simple online search will bring up numerous vacant positions, both permanent and temporary, though competition for such positions is nearly always strong.
Once you have built up some experience of operating a forklift truck – or ideally, of operating several different types of forklift – you should have no problem finding jobs to go for, not just in the UK, but also overseas.
- An Active and Social Working Environment: While you may spend most of the day sat down, operating a forklift truck is hardly a boring, passive job. Rather, you will need to be alert at all times, ensuring that your brain will remain stimulated throughout the working day.
Additionally, most forklift drivers work as part of a team, whether it’s in a warehouse or on a building site, so the job can often be quite social.
- Competitive Pay and Chances to Progress: Again, operating a forklift truck is a skill, something which the hourly pay on offer usually reflects. New starters can earn around £15 an hour, with progression up to £20 an hour possible for more experiences operators (rates higher than most other warehouse workers).
Night and weekend shifts, as well as overtime, can also help boost your earnings, while with time, you could also move into a supervisory or management position within a warehouse, again pushing your pay up.
At the same time, however, there are a few potential downsides to working as a forklift operator.
These may include:
- Hazardous Working Environment: Most good employers will have strict health and safety procedures in place to reduce the risk of accidents in the workplace. However, given the nature of the work, operating a forklift and moving heavy loads is not without its dangers.
- Repetitive Work: As well as being potentially dangerous, operating a forklift can be repetitive work, increasing the likelihood of stress and low morale in the workplace. Furthermore, the job may require manually lifting and moving loads, making it physically as well as mentally demanding.
- Tough Working Conditions: Forklifts are often required to load and unload material outside factories and warehouses. As such, you should expect to spend much of your time outside in all types of weather. At the same time, the working environment can also be noisy and you may be required to work with hazardous substances such as chemicals.
Becoming a Forklift Truck Driver
Becoming a forklift truck driver is relatively simple and straightforward, with no formal entry requirements and plenty of jobs always available.
Training and Qualifications
Despite many job adverts requiring applicants to have a ‘Forklift Truck Drivers’ Licence’, there is no such thing. In fact, there is no legal requirement for a forklift operator to have any kind of formal qualification at all.
What there is, instead, is a legal requirement for the employer to ensure that operators are trained in the use of specialist machinery and are fully aware of any associated risks.
In reality, however, most forklift operators hold ‘best practice’ qualifications offered by specialist training providers, and most employers will want to see evidence of previous training in order for you to be considered for a position.
Training providers approved by the Health and Safety Executive include:
- Construction Skills
- Lantra Awards
- National Plant Operators Registration Scheme (NPORS) Ltd, visit their web site
- The Road Transport Industry Training Board (RTITB) Ltd, see their web site
Many employers will want to ensure that their workforce are up-to-date with their training, so if your certificate is a few years old, you may want to take a refresher course in order to boost your employability.
Again, forklift driving jobs are relatively plentiful, with all warehouses, logistics depots and even individual stores and supermarkets always on the lookout for trained specialists.
Other major employers include large logistics and transportation firms (for example Wincanton and The Stobart Group), port owners and operators, homebuilders such as Barratt and David Wilson Homes, the armed forces and large retailers.
All of the above will recruit directly, with jobs advertised on their websites. Alternatively, you could look for work through an agency or search for the latest forklift driver jobs on UK Jobs Guide, enter your location and “folklift driver” in our search bar.
Job Guide Forklift Truck Driver Summary
- 1. Forklift truck drivers (or operators) use forklift machines to carry materials around, among other places, warehouses, construction sites and storage yards.
- 2. While the mechanics are relatively simple, operating forklift trucks is a skill that requires both training and experience.
- 3. There are a number of benefits to working as a forklift truck driver, all of which mean that jobs are often in high demand.
- 4. Upsides of this line of work include ongoing availability of work, relatively competitive pay and the chance to progress to a supervisory or management position.
- 5. However, given the nature of the work, operating a forklift and moving heavy loads is not without its dangers and can be repetitive and stressful.
- 6. Despite many job adverts requiring applicants to have a ‘Forklift Truck Drivers’ Licence’, there is no such thing, though employers must ensure that operators are trained in the use of specialist machinery.
- 7. Look out for courses approved by the Health and Safety Executive.
Other Driving Careers
If you decide that driving a forklift truck isn’t for you then why not look at our other Driving Jobs Guides.
Also on UK Jobs Guide is your local job centre and its contact information, including a number to call for help and for the latest jobs.