Forklift OperatorJob Description, Salary, Career Path, and Trends
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 any shortages 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. 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 top working order. They note any repairs that need to be made and may perform maintenance. They also keep logs of repairs maintenance, as well as inventory and activity records. Attention to detail and driving a forklift are needed skills. They must be in good physical condition, have good depth perception, and have excellent coordination. Operating a forklift requires a valid certification.
Sample job description #1
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
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
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
Sample job description #2
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
Sample job description #3
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
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
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
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.
Average salary and compensation
The average salary for a forklift operator is $36,500 in the United States. Position salary will vary based on experience, education, company size, industry, and market.
Los Angeles, California
Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minnesota
New York City, New York
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?
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