Warehouse Forklift Operator Job Description
When large, heavy crates and pallets of boxes need to be unloaded from a truck or moved around a warehouse, who do companies rely on? Warehouse forklift operators are responsible for driving forklifts and operating pallet jacks and other equipment to unload incoming freight and store it in warehouse settings. They also use forklifts to retrieve stock from warehouse storage and are responsible for breaking down palletized merchandise and discarding empty pallets.
Warehouse forklift operators work on shipping and receiving docks or for industrial companies, factories, construction sites, and supply warehouses. They typically work eight to 12 hours per day; some companies might operate 24 hours a day, meaning that warehouse forklift operators work daytime and overnight shifts. These workers should be mechanically inclined, safety-conscious, and detail-oriented individuals who can work with little supervision as needed.
Warehouse Forklift Operator Duties and Responsibilities
While a warehouse forklift operator’s day-to-day duties and responsibilities are determined by where they work, there are many core tasks associated with the role. Based on our analysis of job listings, these include:
Operate Forklifts and Other Warehouse Equipment
The main duty of a warehouse forklift operator is to maneuver forklifts and other industrial trucks in warehouses, storage yards, and factory settings to unload trucks and retrieve or store palletized merchandise. They inspect incoming loads for damage and to ensure the safety of materials before using forklifts to move pallets and other items.
Unload Materials from Pallets
Warehouse forklift operators break down palletized materials as needed. They manually remove merchandise from pallets to create smaller loads or to prepare items for delivery. They might also break down palletized materials to check that shipments match delivery paperwork.
Perform Maintenance on Warehouse Equipment
From inspecting tire wear to checking forklift hydraulics, warehouse forklift operators make sure all components of a forklift are in good working order for safety and performance reasons. They make minor repairs on forklifts as needed and record maintenance and repair issues.
Dispose of Debris and Maintain Warehouse
Keeping a clean warehouse is important for safety reasons and warehouse forklift operators are responsible for removing empty crates and boxes, packaging materials, and other debris from the warehouse floor. They use a forklift to stack and remove empty pallets and arrange for the pickup of discarded pallets on a regular basis.
Warehouse Forklift Operator Skills and Qualifications
Physical endurance, mechanical know-how, and awareness of safety procedures all play a role in being a successful warehouse forklift operator. After reviewing some online job postings, we discovered that employers seeking to fill this occupation look for candidates with the following skills:
- Mechanical skills – the ability to operate and maintain industrial equipment is of course essential for warehouse forklift operators
- Physical fitness – warehouse forklift operators should be physically fit to lift, stand, bend, and carry boxes on a daily basis
- Computer skills – as some industrial equipment might have computerized controls, warehouse forklift operators should possess basic computer skills; this is also helpful for using inventory and warehousing software systems
- Self-motivation – warehouse forklift operators must be able to unload, store, and retrieve palletized items as needed, with little to no supervision
- Attention to detail – ensuring that safety precautions are being taken on a daily basis calls for strong attention to detail
- Reading comprehension – warehouse forklift operators must be able to match orders to items being received or shipped and review safety standards and updated procedures and policies
- Math skills – basic math skills are often needed to calculate loads and add up items on invoices and bills of lading
Warehouse Forklift Operator Education and Training
No formal educational requirements exist for becoming a warehouse forklift operator outside of a high school diploma or equivalent. Warehouse forklift operators can complete an Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) Forklift Certification training class, often given at community or vocational colleges. Many companies provide on-the-job training for warehouse forklift operators.
Warehouse Forklift Operator Salary and Outlook
According to the latest data provided by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), warehouse forklift operators earn a median annual wage of $33,500 per year. Those earning in the 10th percentile make about $23,000 per year, while top earners are paid $50,000 annually.
Those employed in the truck transportation industry tend to make the highest mean annual wage at $38,000, followed by warehouse forklift operators employed by merchant wholesalers (about $36,000) and warehousing and storage facilities (just over $35,000). Warehouse forklift operators in Alaska earn the highest annual average salary in the US at about $52,000. Hawaii (just over $50,000) and the District of Columbia ($47,300) follow Alaska for top wages.
Overall, a 6 percent job growth rate is projected by the BLS for all machine-moving operators. Growth for forklift operators and industrial truck operators could be adversely affected by the increasing use of automated systems to move and store merchandise.
Ready to start working as a warehouse forklift operator? Get more details about this uplifting career by reviewing the resources provided below:
Industrial Truck Association – warehouse forklift operations who join ITA can enjoy and benefit from networking, educational, and training opportunities. Learn about industry safety standards, review industry statistics, and more
National Forklift Exchange Blog – access this blog to get details about forklift care, proper operations, forklift technology advancements, warehouse cleaning tips, and other strategies and practices that warehouse forklift operators need to know
The Forklift Boss Blog – presented by Cromer Material Handling, a leader in the forklift industry, this blog offers details about everything from forklift tire inspections to free forklift operation demos
Modern Materials Handling – this digital publication has it all: from blogs about forklift maintenance and articles about the latest technologies to reviews of pneumatic forklifts and interviews with those in the industry
Forklift Safety: A Practical Guide to Preventing Powered Industrial Truck Incidents and Injuries – this comprehensive book covers everything from dock safety to tip-over prevention. It also contains detailed information about OSHA safety standards
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