Forklift Driver: Job Description and Education Requirements

Forklift drivers require little formal education. Learn about the education, job duties and licensure requirements to see if this is the right career for you.

Essential Information

Forklift drivers load and transport large materials and goods from one location to another. A high school diploma or GED are standard requirements for this position, along with job skills that can be learned through formal or informal training programs offered by the employer. This physically demanding career also has voluntary certification.

Required Education High school diploma or GED
Other Requirements Certification or licensure requirements vary by state
Projected Job Growth (2012-2022)*-3% for all industrial truck and tractor operators
Median Salary (2013)*$30,730 for all industrial truck and tractor operators

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Forklift Driver Job Description

Special industrial tractors and trucks are used by forklift drivers to move materials from one place to another. A forklift driver is expected to operate this vehicle at work-sites, construction sites, factories, storage yards and warehouses. These vehicles use hydraulic lifting mechanisms and can be dangerous if used improperly. Forklift driver must follow the proper safety procedures in order to minimize any danger to themselves or other workers.

Forklift drivers are expected to repeatedly perform physically demanding work. Safety devices like braces, hardhats and gloves are expected to be used. Some forklift drivers work outside in any climate or weather, while others work indoors.

The normal work routine for forklift drivers includes 8-hour shifts. However, the time these hours are can vary greatly. Some forklift drivers are expected to work nights or early mornings in order to get the materials moved on time. Extended hours can be required if delays occur.

Education Requirements

Employers prefer applicants with a GED or a high school diploma. Applicants need to be at least 18 years old and able to perform physical labor. The job skills for this career are learned at work. Some companies have a formal job training program. Other businesses use an informal process of pairing up a new worker with an experienced forklift driver or supervisor. Regardless of the type of training used, new forklift drivers are expected to learn quickly and ask any questions they may have.

Some states may have licensure requirements for working with forklifts. An employer assists with this if necessary. Additionally, voluntary certification is available at many professional organizations. These professional certifications require the completion of a class, passing a written examination and passing forklift operation test. If a forklift driver has to work with dangerous materials, then safety procedures and training requirements have to be completed through the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (

Employment Outlook and Salary Information

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) includes forklift operators in the occupation of material moving machine operators. Jobs for industrial truck and tractor operators, including forklift operators, were decline by 3% from 2012-2022, predicted the BLS. In 2013, the BLS revealed a median annual wage of $30,730 for industrial truck and tractor operators.

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