Forklift Operator Job Descriptions, Average Salary, Interview Questions

What Does a Forklift Operator Do?

Forklift Operators work in warehouses and other industrial sites where they use forklifts to move goods from one location to another. They typically use forklifts to unload deliveries from trucks, stack crates, and pallets of merchandise in the proper storage locations, and move outgoing goods from the warehouse onto trucks. A forklift operator must keep an eye out for damaged boxes or goods and report findings to warehouse management. They may also check the quality of goods and merchandise and note any defects or inconsistencies.

A forklift operator must use caution and care to ensure the safety of those around. as such, operating a forklift requires a valid certification. They also need to work efficiently and manage their time wisely. Reliability is important as the forklift operator is responsible for materials and products being in the right place at the right time. Some forklift operators inspect machinery on a periodic basis to ensure it is in good working order. They note any repairs that need to be made and may even perform maintenance. Since this is inherently a physical job with heavy machinery, they should be in good physical health as well.

Are you a job seeker?

Browse zengig’s
comprehensive list
of job openings
and apply online

National Average Salary

Forklift operator salaries vary by experience, industry, organization size, and geography. To explore salary ranges by local market, please visit our sister site

The average U.S. salary for a Forklift Operator is:


Forklift Operator Job Descriptions

Crafting the perfect job description may be the key to finding an exceptional forklift operator. To help you with your recruiting search, our team has put together some examples from past openings.

Example 1

[Your Company Name] approaches workplace efficiency and worker safety with the utmost seriousness, and as a result we recruit only the most driven and capable forklift operators. Forklifts are potentially dangerous pieces of equipment, but in the right hands they can be a powerful force for increasing productivity while decreasing manual labor. Our operators’ ability to maneuver quickly but carefully around obstacles, without endangering their coworkers or damaging any nonhuman materials, is key to the successful running of our operation. Without forklift operators possessing critical thinking skills and fast reflexes, [Your Company Name] would swiftly cease to function. Used responsibly, forklifts are among the most valuable tools in our arsenal, and so, therefore, are their operators.

Typical duties and responsibilities

  • Operate industrial equipment for the accurate unloading, loading, storing, shipping, and receiving of products and materials
  • Stack, package, band, shrink-wrap, and label products and materials
  • Accountable for the safe and efficient operation of associated machinery

Education and experience

This position requires a high school diploma or equivalent. Forklift operators need to be certified, preferably with on-the-job experience.

Required skills and qualifications

  • Knowledge of logistical supply chain methods and procedures
  • Knowledge of inventory control
  • Ability to read and understand delivery orders
  • Ability to follow safe work practices and procedures

Preferred qualifications

  • Forklift license
  • 5+ years of experience in a warehouse environment operating a forklift
  • A hard worker and self-starter

Example 2

The Forklift Operator/Material Handler is responsible for the moving and storage of finished goods and raw materials. The Forklift Operator/Material Handler is also responsible for loading product for customer orders.


  • Remove finished goods/raw materials to/from production lines and place in warehouse or production areas
  • Responsible for equipment
  • Establishes and maintains First In, First Out (FIFO) system of inventory with consideration for all products stored at all warehouses
  • Adheres to all work instructions, Good Manufacturing Practices, and housekeeping procedures
  • Loads and unload trailers
  • Maintains a clean and orderly warehouse
  • Responsible for the accuracy of all transactions and product scanning
  • Loads finished goods for shipment to customers with industrial truck/material handling device
  • Responsible repairing any damaged units
  • Verify that the quality of the product sent outbound meets customer expectations.
  • Responsible for maintaining ISO standards
  • Responsible for reporting food safety issues to personnel with authority to initiate action
  • Responsible for Downstream Equipment Operations when necessary
  • Other duties as assigned


  • Team oriented
  • Self-motivated
  • High School Diploma or GED equivalent
  • Must have flexibility of job assignments
  • Must be able to communicate effectively
  • Must be able to operate a forklift
  • Must be able to read shipping and receiving documents
  • Basic computer skills
  • Physical effort required, continuous mental and visual attention required
  • Lift up to 40 lbs.
  • Must be able to walk up stairs
  • Manual dexterity
  • Exposed to dust, odors, oil and noise
  • Required to sit, stand, and move about the facility — ability to operate a forklift up to 95% of scheduled working hours
  • Overtime required per schedule, 7-day week operation

Example 3

What you’ll do on a typical day

  • Efficiently sort, handle, load, and unload palletized and non-palletized freight
  • Use appropriate motorized and manual equipment, including pallet jack, forklift, and by hand
  • Secure freight inside trailers using appropriate tools and supplies
  • Work in a safe, efficient manner, adhering to company safety policies
  • Use mobile handheld devices to scan and track shipments
  • Work on a dock that is not climate-controlled for extended periods of time

At a minimum, you’ll need

  • To be at least 18 years of age
  • Ability to do basic math calculations, with and without a calculator
  • Availability to work a variety of shifts, including days, evenings, and weekends, due to varying freight volumes

It’d be great if you also have

  • Dock/warehouse experience in the transportation industry
  • Forklift experience in a freight/less-than-truckload environment
  • Experience loading and unloading trailers
  • Desire to succeed with a strong attention to detail

This job requires the ability to

  • Lift freight and other objects of various shapes, sizes, and weights (up to 50 lbs. frequently and greater than 70 lbs. occasionally)
  • Sort, handle, load, and unload palletized and non-palletized freight using appropriate motorized and manual equipment, including a pallet jack, forklift, and by hand
  • Safely walk and stand for extended periods of time on a loading dock that is not climate-controlled and may be slippery
  • Reach (including above your head), bend, climb, push, pull, twist, squat, and kneel as necessary

Example 4


  • Read production schedule, customer order, work order, shipping order, and/or requisition to determine items to be moved or distributed
  • Bring overhead product down to pick bay
  • Stock and restock product in proper locations including overhead locations
  • Rotate stock according to date coding
  • Become proficient with NTS on both handheld and screen mount Telxons
  • Convey materials and items from receiving or production areas to storage or to other designated areas
  • Receive, record, put away, and rotate product. Sort and store perishable goods in refrigerated rooms
  • Use computer and/or Radio Frequency Unit to record and track product
  • Other duties and special projects as requested
  • Must maintain good attendance
  • Maintain safe work practices
  • Maintain safeguards of confidential company information

Minimum requirements

  • High School diploma or equivalent required


  • A minimum of one (1) year of previous experience in a distribution center or warehouse atmosphere, including receiving, pulling orders, packing, and shipping preferred
  • Previous experience operating powered industrial equipment (i.e., Reach Truck, pallet jacks, stock pickers, etc.) REQUIRED
  • Ability to communicate well with internal customers and management
  • Ability to follow safe working practices, as instructed
  • Ability to efficiently work independent of direct supervision

Physical requirements

The physical demands described here are representative of those that must be met by an associate to successfully perform the essential functions of this job. Reasonable accommodations may be made to enable individuals with disabilities to perform the essential functions. Must be able to carry, lift, and/or move up to 75 pounds. The associate is frequently required to stand, walk, and climb. While performing the duties of this position, the associate is subject to a warehouse environment where temperatures can vary from very cool to very warm. The associate is rarely exposed to outside weather conditions. The noise levels in the work environment are typically moderate to high.

Candidate Certifications to Look For

  • Commercial Driver License. In order to earn a Commercial Driver License (CDL), candidates must first obtain a commercial learner’s permit and then pass a driving skills test. While a CDL is not required to operate a forklift, earning one will demonstrate that candidates are proficient with the operation of heavy vehicles. There is more than one type of CDL, and candidates are advised to conduct their own research in order to determine which type is the best fit for them. Class A licenses are required to operate vehicles or combinations of vehicles weighing in excess of 26,000 pounds, Class B licenses are required to operate single unhitched vehicles weighing in excess of 26,000 pounds, and Class C licenses are required to operate single unhitched vehicles weighing less than 26,000 pounds.
  • OSHA Safety Certificate. In the warehouse, OSHA is extremely important, and all forklift operators need to be knowledgeable in it. However, to obtain this certification, candidates must complete a 40-hour program, and have more than two years of training, and two more years of work experience. Then, they can qualify to receive this certificate. 

Sample Interview Questions

  • Do you have any prior experience operating heavy machinery, either professionally or in your private life?
  • Can you name a time when you pinpointed a mechanical issue with a vehicle or device in your possession? What did you do to rectify it?
  • You are transporting a pallet of goods to a waiting delivery truck when you see that there is a significant spill of some kind in your path. Do you drive over the spillage or attempt to go around it?
  • Have you ever quarreled with a superior at a previous job? If so, what was the nature of the dispute and how was it resolved?
  • How would you respond if you saw a coworker operating a forklift carelessly or while chemically impaired in some way?
  • If the forklift you were operating appeared to be behaving unreliably, would you immediately turn it off, or would you first attempt to return it to its proper place?
  • When did you become forklift certified?

Need help hiring a Forklift Operator?

We match top professionals with great employers across the country. From filling urgent job openings to developing long-term hiring strategies, our team is here to help. Review our staffing solutions, browse our award-winning Staffing Corner blog, or call today. We look forward to connecting with you soon.

Browse A-Z Job Descriptions