The Bureau of Labor Statics released an interesting fact regarding the labor market as it relates to forklift jobs. The forklift driving industry is experiencing the biggest growth rate in the retail industry. From superstores like Wal-Mart to other retailers who stock and transport inventory, it appears the industry still has a need for forklift drivers.
However it must be quickly noted that this small niche area is the only growth area for the field. The forklift industry as a whole is not expected to grow and apart from isolated markets the growth potential is not very encouraging.
That having been said, if a forklift job is still desirable, here’s what you need to know before you put in that application.
If a retailer like Wal-Mart is being considered, how much can you expect to make? Depending on training and job classification the average pay is $15 per hour. Job classification makes a huge difference in the pay scale because a general job title such as sales clerk will not pay as much as being classified as an experienced forklift operator or better yet a certified heavy truck driver.
It’s All in the Title
Consider you are hired as a general sales clerk. The expected salary might be a little over minimum wage or minimum wage at the very least. Now compare that employee to one who is hired with prior forklift experience. It is easy to see why the latter employee will command a higher salary. Experience is the key.
With adequate training a sales clerk can learn to operate a forklift and will then be able to use that experience with his next job, but at the beginning of his work history, the highest job classification he may obtain is that of sales clerk. Therefore the earnings will be much less.
The difference between an experienced forklift operator and a certified forklift operator again increases the net salary. Average pay can range between $15 and $20 per hour. (The more experience the closer to the $20 per hour earnings.) If you are a heavy truck driver who is also certified, you can easily hit the $18 per hour mark. Annual salaries range from $31,450.00 per year to $38,720.00 per year. Try to find a job description that uses warehouse associate, forklift driver or warehouse manager in its ad to find the highest paying salaries.
The Working Day
Forklift drivers work at least eight hours a day if not longer. The work day may more accurately be called the work night since warehouse work is preferably done when customers are not around. This may call for the operator to be available at night or during the early morning hours.
The shift will call for moving material around the warehouse, storage yard, construction site, or factory. It is helpful to prepare to be able to push, pull, or lift 100 pounds. Your day will consist of crouching, crawling, kneeling a lot, and stooping. It is hard physical work that consists of more than sitting behind a lift and pressing pedals.
- Work Environment
- Here is what to expect during a typical shift:
- Extreme temperatures
- Exposure to fumes and odors
- Loud noises
- Chemical exposure
For all the above stated reasons, forklift driving is put in the category of a “hazardous occupation” and should be treated as such.
What it Takes to be a Forklift Driver
If you are able to enjoy the sense of accomplishment associated with completing a task that many would consider boring or monotonous . . . then you might make a good forklift driver.
If you are 18 years of age or older and you have your high school diploma or GED . . . then you might make a good forklift driver.
If you are able to pass a drug test and come to work clear-headed and sober . . . then you might make a good forklift driver.
Accidents Will Occur
Even with all due diligence and even if safety procedures are put into place, the nature of the job is still one of danger. If you are willing to be vigilant for yourself and your co-workers you will avoid many accidents attributed to carelessness.