What Does a Forklift Operator Do?

Warehouses, construction sites and many other businesses always need forklift operators to move materials and equipment, which creates plenty of opportunities for properly trained, licensed and certified professionals. In many cases, it’s a starting point for advancing into other careers within the warehouse, construction and industrial trades.


Forklift operator responsibilities involve moving goods and products around warehouses and other industrial sites. The day-to-day duties of a forklift operator can vary, depending on the job environment, but generally speaking, forklift operator duties include the following:

  • Cargo handling
  • Storage management
  • Inventory retrieval
  • Pallet stacking
  • Assisting other forklift operators as required
  • Always operating the equipment as safely as possible

A driver who can operate different types of lifts, such as stand up, sit down, pallet jacks and others and is able to perform various forklift operator duties will be among those who earn the highest salaries. Once you’ve completed FLC’s forklift operator training, you’ll have the background and knowledge to safely perform all sorts of duties expected of a qualified forklift operator!

If you’re interested in a career as a forklift operator, there are some basic requirements that you need to meet in order to get a job. Entry-level forklift drivers with no experience should be at least 18 years old and have a high school degree or General Educational Diploma (GED). Since you’ll be driving a vehicle while on the job, you’ll also need to possess a valid driver’s license. 

Most reputable employers will require you to complete forklift operator certification training and hold a forklift operator’s license as a condition of being hired. Many employers will favor those forklift operators who have already received their forklift certification training, so it’s definitely worth looking into if you’re seriously considering a career as a forklift driver.


The basic task for a forklift operator is to drive a forklift and move equipment and materials around in warehouses, dockyards, lumberyards, factories, construction sites and other job sites. Every now and then, a forklift driver may also need to pick up and move loads by hand. It’s a great job for someone who’s willing to work hard and doesn’t mind doing repetitive tasks.

On any given day, a forklift operator may be tasked with stacking and storing merchandise, checking that inbound and outbound shipments are free from damage, maintaining records to guarantee tight inventory control, and rotating stock to keep items fresh. The specific duties associated with a forklift operator job greatly depends on the work environment. A forklift operator who works on a loading dock will have quite different duties than someone working on a construction site or cold storage warehouse. Regardless of where you’re working, though, safety principles and maintenance routines are always of vital importance. 

Being a certified forklift operator can help you advance to a position as a shift supervisor or manager. Forklift operator certifications will also help you be a better, more knowledgeable operator. This additional knowledge makes your job safer and increases the overall safety of your workplace. 

Other Forklift Operator Duties and Responsibilities

Maintenance is one of the main responsibilities of forklift drivers. Even the most experienced, safest operator can find themselves in trouble if their lift is not properly maintained. Daily inspections are actually required by OSHA, which can help mitigate the very worst kinds of forklift accidents. Beyond daily inspections, though, forklift operators can expect to perform regular maintenance on all aspects of the lift. 

Speaking of OSHA, a big part of being a professional forklift operator is abiding by strict safety rules and regulations. Industrial job sites can be incredibly dangerous places to work. Without thorough knowledge of industry safety requirements, forklift operators may find themselves in over their heads. Simply staying safe and abiding by such rules is a major part of the job.

It’s not enough to be mindful of the potential for workplace accidents, though. In order to truly stay safe on the job, forklift operators must maintain constant vigilance in the forklift cockpit. Recognizing the potential for hazards ahead of time can help keep workers safe. Just one slip up can trigger a serious mishap, which is why it’s so important that forklift operators get proper training before starting work. 

Benefits of Becoming a Certified Forklift Operator

Career stability and longevity are two of the major benefits of becoming a certified forklift operator. Without official certification, employees cannot operate forklifts and still be in compliance with OSHA rules. Employers know this, which is why they’re so eager to hire professional forklift drivers who have already earned their certifications. 

forklift operator getting certification online

Here are some of the benefits of being a forklift operator for those who have completed OSHA-approved forklift training and certification:

You’ll be a better and more knowledgeable forklift operator
Your forklift operator certification can lead to other job opportunities for you as an employee
Employers are willing to pay more for forklift operators who have taken the time to become certified
Being a certified forklift operator can help you qualify for a position as a shift supervisor or manager
The knowledge you gain from your forklift operator training will make your workplace safer
It will be easier for you to get a better job with better pay
Most importantly, all forklift operators are required by law to receive OSHA-approved training and certification!

These are far from the only benefits of earning your forklift operator certification. Above all else, certification empowers workers to take responsibility for their own safety. Given how hazardous many warehouses and construction job sites can be, it’s important that forklift drivers understand the risks they face each day. Knowledge truly is power, and if certification can prevent accidents and injuries on the job, then it’s well worth pursuing. 


Ever wondered how much do forklift drivers make? If you are serious about getting a job as a forklift operator, you can expect to make anywhere between $10 and $20 per hour, depending upon where you live and the economy in your area. Most entry-level forklift operators are paid a base rate of about $13 per hour. Many warehouses owners and other employers will pay their forklift drivers overtime at the rate of one and a half times their normal hourly wage. In many cases, forklift operators who have taken the time to complete OSHA-approved forklift operator certification training are compensated with higher pay for their efforts, since most employers understand the value of the training in making the workplace safer.


Forklift operators are essential workers in a wide variety of industries. If you are looking for steady, reliable work that pays well, becoming a certified forklift operator is a great place to start. You can count on ForkliftCertification.com to get you there quickly and economically. Check out our website to learn more about our fast, convenient and affordable online forklift training programs. All training materials are available online 24/7, and the training takes only about one hour to complete.

Our affordable, convenient certification is ideal for anyone that hopes to become a forklift operator without spending a fortune. Want to get your entire team certified? Consider our Train a Trainer option for managers, supervisors and foremen. Bringing your forklift training in-house can save serious time and money for your organization! You can also bundle and save by purchasing both the Train a Trainer course and the Forklift Certified Operator Training Kit together. Sign up today!

10 Benefits of Forklift Certification