Are you considering a job as a forklift operator? If so, here’s a job description outline so you know exactly what will be required of you before and after being hired on.

The Job

Forklift operators are first and foremost responsible for operating an industrial forklift. This usually takes place in warehouses, shipyards, docks, flight lines, or other industrial workplace environments. Normal activities include loading and unloading shipping containers, trailers, bays and shelves or racks containing inventory. Materials usually handled in the day to day activities of a forklift operator include pallets containing boxes, and other types of stock, inventory and material.

Forklift operators are primarily responsible for the equipment they operate, the inventory they handle, and the safety of themselves and their co-workers as well as pedestrians in their immediate work area.

The forklift itself consists of all the usual vehicle components, steering wheel, gas and brake pedals, a horn, plus levers for operating the lift up and down, and controlling the fork angles.

This is a job with inherent dangers to personnel and material being handled, so there are strict safety rules and regulations in place to protect workers and people in the work area. The safety standards are set by a federal organization called OSHA (Occupational Health & Safety Admin) and strictly adhered to by companies in all states. Therefore, all workers must take it upon themselves to report any damage or to equipment, racks or inventory directly to their supervisor or shift manager. This also includes any safety issues that arise with the work environment or the equipment.

Responsibilities and duties include but are not limited to:

Inspecting equipment before each use
Picking orders
Filling slots with new stock
Shrink-wrapping material and pallets in preparation for shipping
Attending meetings with co-workers and managers
Attending forklift training and certification refresher courses
Constantly being aware of their surroundings
Operating their equipment safely at all times
Reading orders and stock labels and locating inventory promptly
Using basic math skills
Lifting a minimum of 100 lbs. in most workplace environments


  • High school degree or equivalent
  • Forklift training 
  • Ability to show up for work on time for every shift
  • Ability to listen to, read and follow directions
  • Forklift certification

In closing…

A forklift operator job can be a high-paying position at many companies and can lead to other positions, such as management. If you want to be employed full-time or part-time as a forklift driver, get to know the responsibilities and qualifications required before you apply for a job. The ability to show an understanding or at least basic knowledge of the job and it’s requirements, during an interview, will help put you one step ahead of others applying for the position.

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