Becoming a Fork Lift Operator

One of the most useful certifications you can get in the workplace is your fork lift operator license.  Another description of the fork lift license is "portable job." It's also a job that's always in demand. Every freight, building, warehouse, retail, wholesale, and distribution business in the world uses forklifts. It's a particularly good job for learning operations in these businesses.

Education and training

You don't need any particular academic qualifications to get a fork lift license. You do, however, need to be competent with the fork lift, and the license training is required by law. Forklifts handle significant weights. There are serious occupational health and safety issues involved in operating these machines, and you need to pass a series of tests to get your license.

When in training, you'll learn to maneuver the fork lift safely, follow all required handling procedures and meet all safety requirements. These skills are critically important for your license. Forklifts handle loads of several tons, and mobile forklifts are classified by law as industrial vehicles requiring licensed operators.

The workplace environment

Working as a fork lift operator, you'll soon see why the training was so strict about safety and handling. These two elements are the main elements in working with forklifts:

Handling: Fork lift work is one of the main handling jobs in moving the world's goods. The fork lift operator is the person who handles every piece of material that goes through the business. In shipping and commercial freight, forklifts are busy around the clock. Many of the fork lift jobs are shift jobs, and they're active around the clock. That's a lot of work, and it's very valuable work. Each load may represent tens of thousands of dollars worth of material. These are important jobs, and employers care about skills and experience.

Safety: The fork lift operator handles heavy loads, and maneuvering a vehicle carrying several tons is a major safety issue. Experienced fork lift operators are experts in handling these potentially dangerous loads. They make it look easy, but working with palettes loaded with such heavy weights is done with the greatest care. Fork lift operators are trained to know how to make their loads safe, and to deal with potentially deadly situations like unbalanced loads.

The career environment

Because forklifts are so important in their work place, supervisors and managers usually have experience in their operation. The people overseeing safety in the workplace must know their operations well. So it's natural that fork lift operators graduate up the organizational scale from operators to supervisors to managers. Career advancement is based on experience and proven competence.

Depending on the industry, fork lift operations can vary considerably, and so do the salaries. These jobs can pay extremely well, particularly in the stevedore jobs, where wages working in sea freight are sometimes exceptionally good. Freight industries in general are good areas for regular employment and advancement. In some industries the work involves handling hazardous goods, or other specialized work, which is paid on significantly higher scales.