What Does a Forklift Driver Do?
The job of a forklift operator involves using motorized passenger vehicles with attached mechanical lifts to move heavy loads for organizational, storage and distribution purposes.
In a production facility, forklift drivers are responsible for moving raw materials and finished products in ways that facilitate production processes. In a construction setting, forklift drivers are typically responsible for moving construction materials to building sites and removing waste materials. Some warehouse forklift drivers work in the supply chain; facilitating shipping operations by keeping a warehouse organized, loading shipments and unloading shipments.
The typical forklift operator job description lays out responsibilities like packing products for shipping, loading and unloading stock, moving large heavy pallets, performing regular maintenance, following all safety rules and performing inventory control tasks.
What are the Responsibilities of a Forklift Driver?
Most warehouse forklift drivers are responsible for using machinery to load and unload heavy shipments. Given that a forklift is a large piece of machinery capable of causing serious damage, a big part of this job is identifying and addressing potential safety hazards associated with moving large loads. Forklift operators must know how to properly center a forklift load, fix a loose load and avoid transporting a load that exceeds the maximum limit for the forklift being used. They should also know all of the rules pertaining to transport and traffic patterns.
In addition to using a forklift to move heavy pallets of material, a typical forklift operator job description includes the packing and labeling of goods for shipment. Forklift drivers should be able to organize and use packing materials such as boxes of different sizes, various packing materials, tape and other sealing materials.
Many forklift drivers, especially those working in a warehouse setting, are responsible for inventory control duties. These responsibilities typically include filling out shipping invoices, keeping documentation organized and keeping inventory organized based on the established inventory control system.
Forklift drivers should know how to use other types of material moving equipment beyond just a forklift. For example, they may be expected to use cherry pickers or other personnel lifts to retrieve materials located high on top of warehouse racks. They should also know how to use pallet jacks and similar tools to move materials over short distances.
Forklift drivers should be able to perform inspections and basic maintenance on the machines they operate. Safety regulations require drivers to inspect their forklift both at the start and the end of their shift. This typically involves checking the machinery for any defects, checking tire pressure and looking for the buildup of materials like dirt and grime.
Do You Need a License to Drive a Forklift?
Federal regulations from the Occupational Safety Health Administration (OSHA) make it compulsory for all forklift operators to be certified for the particular type of forklift they operate.
Certification involves a training course and the passing of two different evaluations. One assessment is a skills test that determines if an applicant can safely operate the type of forklift for which they are seeking to be certification. The second test is a written exam used to determine an applicant’s knowledge of safety regulations in standard procedures.
How to Get Certified to Become a Forklift Operator
A formal education degree is not required for a forklift certification. Although, some employers do prefer their forklift drivers have at least a high school diploma.
Taking a certification course involves learning the necessary skills to perform the job of a forklift operator. The skills learned in a certification course are extremely practical and mastering them allows an operator to do great work. A certification course also teaches the various safety regulations that may be followed. Standardized by OSHA, safety regulations taught by a certification course apply everywhere inside the United States.
Some forklift operator jobs are highly specialized, such as those in military or mining operations. These jobs require special certifications that involve industry-specific skills and rules.
How Long Does a Forklift Certification Take?
Because some forklifts are more complex than others, the length of time needed to earn certification can vary. Typically, certification can be earned after a few days of study.
It’s important to note that training of a new forklift driver doesn’t end with certification. The standard training period last several weeks, and training is usually performed by a supervisor or experienced forklift driver. This training. Builds on the knowledge gained during certification and it is more focused on the specifics of working in a particular forklift driver position.
How Much Do Forklift Operators Make?
According to Glassdoor, the income for typical forklift driver jobs in Wichita and the surrounding areas is nearly $37,000 a year. According to Indeed, forklift driver jobs in Wichita and in Kansas earn an average salary compared to the rest of the country. Generally speaking, operators working in the southeastern US earn less, while those working in some northern states tend to earn more.
Many companies pay by the hour and offer overtime pay. Additional pay from overtime and bonuses often adds up over the course of a year to several thousands of dollars. Pay can also increase with advancements into more senior forklift driver positions.
Skills Needed for Forklift Drivers
In addition to the technical skills required to safely operate a forklift, forklift operators should also have strong interpersonal skills, particularly in the areas of communication, organization and teamwork.
In just about every workplace setting, productivity depends on the exchange of information. Simply conveying messages isn’t enough. Good communication involves recipients understanding the context and content of messages.
If forklift drivers have a hard time understanding verbal, text or other messages, it not only makes the, less productive, but it also increases the risk of workplace accidents. Forklift operators spend their days using heavy equipment, and communication can be the difference between life and death. And so, safety communication is absolutely critical for every forklift operator.
Good organization may not come naturally to some people, but forklift drivers must be able to keep organized in order to do their jobs effectively. The job of a forklift driver typically involves keeping on a tight shipping schedule. If a driver has an organized structure in place, it makes it easier to promptly load inventory for outgoing shipments and receive incoming goods.
Forklift operators are typically expected to do more than just move heavy materials around and these various responsibilities can often pile up. An organized workflow can help ensure tasks are handled in the correct order and lesser responsibilities are not forgotten.
Production facilities, warehouses, construction sites and other forklift operator workplaces are often buzzing with teams of employees trying to accomplish collective goals. Effective teamwork involves these groups of people sharing responsibilities in ways that optimize productivity, minimize mistakes and minimize onerous burdens on one or a small minority of individuals.
When forklift operators have strong team working skills, it optimizes the flow of materials and inventory such that people in other positions can more easily handle their own responsibilities. Teamworking also helps forklift operators come together with their colleagues to address any emerging problems.
Forklift Operator Job Outlook
Much has been made of the idea that automation is replacing human labor in the manufacturing and supply chain industries. However, federal projections indicate drastic cutbacks in the need for forklift operators aren’t expected anytime soon.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, job opportunities for forklift operators will grow throughout the decade, albeit at a 3 percent rate that is slower than average. The federal agency said nearly 635,000 people were employed as industrial truck and tractor operators; a category that includes forklift operators.
Of course, the national job market for forklift operators can vary significantly from the local job market. Investigating the number of forklift operator jobs in Wichita and surrounding areas should start by contacting local employment experts.
(Certified or not) Find Forklift Operator Jobs in Wichita with Top Notch Personnel Today
Top Notch Personnel is a leading staffing agency in Wichita, and we often connect job seekers with open forklift operator jobs in the area.
Not all temp labor agencies are created equal and we pride ourselves on providing job seekers with one-on-one service. While some agencies may simply be focused on making placements, we work with job seekers to ensure they are getting the best fit possible.
If you are currently looking at different temp agencies in Wichita, you should take a hard look at Top Notch Professionals. We are one labor staffing agency that puts people first. Please contact us today to learn more about how we treat job seekers as valuable, in-demand individuals.