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Female forklift driver working in a warehouse

Everything to know about being a forklift driver

As the UK’s fast-paced supply chain grows so does the demand for forklift truck (FLTs) drivers. It’s a vital role in every warehouse and represents a good career option with excellent benefits. Not trained? Don’t worry, an increasing number of employers will train those looking to make a career change into forklift operations.

What is a forklift truck driver?

Also known as forklift drivers and forklift operators and often abbreviated to FLTs, forklift truck drivers primarily drive a range of industrial trucks and specialise in warehouse transportation. They may also take on other warehouse duties such as stock checking and picking and packing.

What are the responsibilities of a forklift truck driver?

  • Safely manoeuvring a range of equipment types including hand trucks, counterbalance forklifts, sit down forklifts, stand up forklifts, cherry-pickers, clamp and reach forklifts, industrial lift trucks, and pallet jacks.
  • Unloading materials and stock from incoming vehicles and loading up outgoing vehicles
  • Stacking and unstacking large quantities of goods onto shelves or pallets
  • Locating and moving products from shelves and racks to designated areas
  • Regularly checking machinery for faults or damage and conducting necessary maintenance
  • Using computer systems and hand-held scanners for inventory controls and records management
  • Checking and completing delivery notes and stock control paperwork
  • Ensuring that warehouse areas are clean, tidy and safe for forklift operations
  • Manually handling goods where necessary
  • Contributing to operational efficiency and health and safety by always sticking to procedures, rules and schedules

What does a forklift truck driver earn?

The current average salary is between £17-30K. Training levels, experience and the exact nature of the role can all affect what you will earn; forklift drivers who work nights, overtime or weekends can increase their pay. With warehouses often operating 24/7 the opportunities for enhanced earnings are considerable.

At Kingdom Mercury, we always look to be competitive, not just with our hourly rates but also our employee benefits and commitment to retaining, training and developing staff. There are plenty of career opportunities for those keen to build their experience, learn new skills and take on more responsibility.

What qualifications and attributes do you need to be a forklift truck driver?

Employers may ask for GCSEs in English and Maths but the single most important qualification is a forklift training certificate. Employers may be happy to put you on a training course if you are starting your career; once you pass the course you will be presented with a certificate which means you can then legally drive a forklift. Employers will also organise refresher training for those who have had previous experience but have been out of the workplace for some time. Typically, employers will be happy with certificates up to three years old before requiring refresher training.

Forklift truck drivers must be over the minimum school leaving age but due to health and safety liabilities, the preference is for drivers aged 18+. Good health, particularly vision and hearing, good hand-to-eye coordination, and reasonable levels of mobility, are also essential.

Male forklift driver being helped by a female warehouse operative

In terms of qualities, drivers should be comfortable working independently in a fast-paced, busy environment. Employers will want drivers who:

  • Work systematically, carefully and efficiently
  • Are reliable and dependable
  • Are adaptable and willing to take on different tasks
  • Show enthusiasm and motivation
  • Respect the operational environment and the need for safe working
  • Can cope with the physical demands of the job

Do you need experience to be a forklift truck driver?

There are always going to be more opportunities for those with experience and a training certificate as they will be able to make an immediate start. However, such is the demand for forklift operators that many employers will send the right candidates for the appropriate training.

Is forklift truck driving a good job?

There are many positives about forklift truck driving roles. There is always plenty of demand so a good candidate will never be short of opportunities. If you like being busy and enjoy working with a range of industrial vehicles carrying out duties precisely and efficiently, then it’s a great role.

The 24/7, shift-based nature of the work suits many people who can’t or don’t want to do a more standard 9-5. There’s invariably a pattern of work that will fit in with your life!

Pay rates are competitive and overtime is available. With more experience comes greater scope to earn more on the trucks or to move onto different roles in the warehouse/logistics environment.

Where can I find the latest forklift truck driver vacancies?

You can check out currently live jobs page for all the latest job listings available with Kingdom Mercury.