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How to become a forklift operator

How to become a forklift operator

As logistics and transportation continue to boom, it’s important to think about what other jobs are available beyond truck driving.

Warehouses are a key part of supply chain and are often a forgotten piece of the puzzle. There is a huge variety of roles within a warehouse, including forklift operators.

If you are interested in operating heavy equipment, working with people and not having to sit at a desk, it could be the job for you.

I sat down with Katherine Roberts, a Schneider Process Manager who works in implementation, to learn more about how to become a forklift operator.

Steps to becoming a forklift operator:

1. Gain an understanding of what a forklift operator does

A forklift operator moves materials that cannot be lifted manually, from point A to point B. Forklifts are typically used in warehousing, ports, construction sites and factories.

The job requires a great deal of attention to detail and is process-driven. The duration of a shift is typically eight to ten hours a day. Basic mathematics and use of warehouse technology is common in this position.

2. Learn about the different types of forklifts

There are several types of forklifts and each require additional training. Some examples include: Clamp Truck, Roll Clamp, Double-Fork, Single-Fork, Turret Truck and Stand-up Forks.

3. Obtain the basic requirements and education

There are multiple qualifications to becoming a forklift operator:

  1. You must be at least 18 years old.
  2. Most employers require a high school education or GED.
  3. It’s the industry norm for a forklift operator to pass a drug screen and background check prior to employment.

4. Complete the certification and get experience

Certification can be obtained through online schooling and private training; however, most companies offer on-the-job training and require company-specific certifications.

The average cost to obtain a certification is $200.00.

5. Look for your first forklift operator job

Once you have the education and certification you need to become a forklift operator, begin looking for a company that offers comprehensive benefits, 401(k) and competitive starting pay.

The median salary of a forklift operator in the U.S. is $16.50 per hour.

Interested in learning more about warehousing at Schneider?

Warehouse associates at Schneider play a huge part in keeping our 56,000 trailers and containers loaded and moving. Learn about what each role is responsible for and where you could fit in.

About the author
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Hailey is the Sr. Human Resources Business Partner for Schneider’s Import/Export division located in Savannah, Ga. Originally from Kentucky, Hailey moved to Savannah to join the Schneider team in July 2016. She enjoys traveling, competing in CrossFit and beach days.

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