Forklift Operator

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About

A career as a Forklift Operator

A Forklift Operator is responsible for operating forklifts and moving goods around warehouses and other sites. Duties include using forklifts to unload deliveries, stacking boxes for storage and moving wooden pallets around the warehouse.

Forklift Operators are able to manoeuvre their vehicles with skill and precision to efficiently perform operations such as loading, unloading, lifting, transporting, placing and stacking goods and materials. They are required to follow designated routes that are planned to be as safe as possible for other warehouse staff. Operators are also responsible for ensuring that the loads they transport are not damaged during handling operations.

Also known as: Forklift Driver, Forklift Truck Driver

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Skills/Knowledge

You'll need:

  • driving skills and an accredited forklift operating licence from an industry-recognised body to safely and legally operate forklifts in a warehouse

  • physical skills such as mobility and co-ordination

  • to be thorough and pay attention to detail

  • patience and the ability to remain calm in stressful situations

  • practical skills for repairing and maintaining equipment

  • the ability to work well with others

  • to follow instructions from the Warehouse Team Leader and Manager

  • concentration skills and good spatial awareness

  • to be able to carry out basic tasks on a computer or hand-held device

Salary
Typical salaries
range from
Typical Hours

40–46 hours per week. This role may require shift work and working on evenings, weekends, and bank holidays.

Day to Day
  • Check equipment daily and carry out basic maintenance

  • Load and unload goods from lorries, checking they are secure before moving off

  • Use radio frequency equipment to keep in touch with other staff

  • Manually handle goods safely when necessary

  • Stack goods and move them around in storage bays

  • Complete paperwork for delivery notes and stock control

  • Adhere to health and safety regulations

Working Environment

You will need to wear PPE such as hard hats, high-vis jackets, hearing protection and appropriate footwear.

Training Available

Training is an essential part of any job, giving you the skills and knowledge you need to do your job safely and correctly. It also helps to strengthen your current skill set and prepares you for the next stage in your career.

Apprenticeships

Apprenticeships help you build the experience and skills that employers want to see. No matter what stage you’re at, they’ll help set you up for a bright future. There are lots of ways to get involved.

Forklift Operator opportunities and careers paths

With experience, you could become a Warehouse Team Leader. With further training, you could work as a forklift instructor or maintenance engineer.

Forklift Operators can work in a variety of industries - you could move into work at a port, on a construction site, at an airport, or in a factory.

Industries

Forklift Operator will usually work in one of the following industries. Click below to find out more about possible career paths.

Warehousing & Logistics

Want to be part of a growing industry? Explore diverse opportunities in warehousing and logistics.

Warehousing and logistics are part of a company’s supply chain – the things a company needs to do to get their goods or services to their customers efficiently. It’s an important part of the UK economy – according to Logistics UK, the sector contributes £127 billion to the UK’s economy and employs more than 2.5 million people. For the Republic of Ireland, Ibis World reported in 2022 that the warehousing and storage industry is valued at €865.7m and ranked 9th in Europe.

Jobs are incredibly varied – you could work in a warehouse (a commercial building that receives, stores and distributes products) or you could focus on logistics (managing the storage and delivery of products). Both warehousing and logistics work closely together to help retail, manufacturers and food and drink producers get their goods to their customers.

Thanks to the rise of online shopping, British industry needs more and more warehouses, storage and supply chain activities to keep goods moving. Some careers options focus on reducing the environmental impact of this activity, looking at how to use less energy and fuel to help organisations come up with more sustainable and efficient ways of transporting goods.

  • The logistics sector contributes £127 billion Gross Value Added (GVA) to UK economy

  • There are 205,380 logistics enterprises in the UK

  • Within the UK there are almost 2000 individual warehouse units used for storage and distribution, which account for almost 566 million sq ft of warehouse space

  • The warehousing and storage industry in the Republic of Ireland has grown every year between 2017 and 2022, and currently employs almost 3,500 people

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Qualifications

Qualifications for a Forklift Operator

These courses are perfect if you are starting out on your career but they are also great for people already in jobs who want to improve their skills.

To find out more about qualification levels in the Republic of Ireland, please visit National Framework of Qualifications for Ireland (NFQIE)

To find out more about qualification levels in Scotland please visit Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework (SCQF).

Select level
Title Level
Training for a Forklift Operator

These courses are perfect if you are starting out on your career but they are also great for people already in jobs who want to improve their skills.

About Apprenticeships

Work, earn and learn

Whether you’re just starting out in the workplace, want to upskill or are considering changing direction, Apprenticeships are a fantastic way to build your career. Apprenticeships combine work with on-the-job training, so if you want to earn as you learn, there’s an apprenticeship out there for you – you can even start an apprenticeship if you already have a degree.

Apprenticeships for a career as an Forklift Operator

All about Apprenticeships

Work, earn and learn – no matter where you are in your career, an apprenticeship can set you up for a bright future.

Let’s get started!

Want to take on an apprentice? Employers start here.

What is an Apprenticeship?

An apprenticeship is a unique blend of work experience and study to help build the skills and knowledge you need for your career. Apprentices are employees – they have a contract, are paid and get the same benefits as everyone else. But the difference between an apprenticeship and a normal job is that apprentices are regularly released from work for training. Sometimes that’s a day a week, sometimes it’s for a longer block – it all depends on the job and the apprenticeship.

Apprentices work for all kinds of people at all kinds of stages in their lives. Most apprentices fall into one of three categories:

  • someone who is just starting their career
  • someone who already has a job and wants to move forward in their company
  • someone who already has a job and wants to retrain to make a career change.

Previously restricted to school leavers and young people, apprenticeships are now a dynamic way of retraining people of all ages - there’s no upper age limit. The minimum age to become an apprentice is 16 and candidates can’t be in full-time education.

Benefits of an Apprenticeship

Apprenticeships offer a unique combination of paid work and study. They’re an exciting option for anyone who wants to gain experience, upskill or change career while working.

They offer a chance to work, learn and earn:

  • workplace experience and skills development
  • a nationally recognised qualification
  • employee benefits and a wage
  • no student loans or tuition fees
  • contact with industry professionals.

Vacancies

Interested in becoming an apprentice? Search for current opportunities and apply here.

Find your apprenticeship

You can also check vacancies on employer websites or get in touch with your local careers service.

Apprenticeship Stories

What’s it like to work, earn and learn? Find out what apprentice life is really like.

Explore apprenticeship stories

Alternatives to Apprenticeships

Useful Information

Useful Links

United Kingdom Warehousing Association (UKWA)
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Logistics UK
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The Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport (CILT)
Find out more

Funding Options

Thinking about your finances is important when you're looking at courses and training - different types of funding support is available depending on what type of course you're interested in and where you are located. We recommend you contact the training provider for more information on course costs and financing, but here are some links to connect you to support available:

SkillSeeder

SkillSeeder is an online skill sharing marketplace creating new opportunities to learn and share skills. Wherever you are located - if you have a skill to share, or a skill to learn, SkillSeeder can help.

Initially founded as a response to the Scottish Government’s CivTech 5 programme in 2020 and aiming to offer a platform for those in rural or remote locations, SkillSeeder has progressed to a UK-wide skill sharing resource. If you have a skill to share with others or are a training provider, list your workshop or course (all skills from all sectors are welcome). If you are a learner, use SkillSeeder to search for and book a course!

STEM

STEM is an approach to learning and development that incorporates the areas of science, technology, engineering and mathematics. Learning in STEM connects to Education for Sustainable Development/Learning for Sustainability and the Sustainable Development Goals – this helps learners to understand that STEM plays a vital role in finding solutions to real world issues or challenges such as protecting biodiversity and tackling climate change. There are multiple pathways into a land-based STEM career including apprenticeships, further and higher education. This means that a career in STEM is open to everyone!

STEM Learning is the largest provider of STEM education and careers support in the UK. Their STEM Ambassadors programme sees volunteers representing a vast range of STEM-related jobs work with young people to bring STEM subjects alive through real life experiences. They help to open the doors to a world of opportunities and possibilities which come from pursuing STEM subjects and careers. To become a STEM Ambassador, you can register via the STEM Learning website: https://www.stem.org.uk/stem-ambassadors/join-stem-ambassador-programme

Lantra have worked in collaboration with STEM Ambassadors in Scotland to create two specific UK-wide Ambassadors schemes - Forestry and Aquaculture. Through these schemes, we want to make sure that those working in forestry and aquaculture have the support materials they need to take part in STEM activities. To find out more and register for the schemes, please follow the links below:

Smart Futures helps young people in Ireland discover the STEM subjects and careers that might be right for them. Co-ordinated and managed by Science Foundation Ireland, their programme allows young people to connect with people that are working in STEM, the organisations they’re working in and what their interests and skills are.

Not sure what you want to do?

Why not take a look at the Industries Explorer as an introduction to the different areas you could work in.

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