Forklift Operator Jobs: Salary and Career Facts
If you've ever been in a warehouse or on a construction site, you may have seen forklifts in action or waiting for an operator. Have you ever wondered what it takes to have a career as a forklift operator? If so, continue reading for a description of what you might be required to do, training and salary information. Schools offering Supply Chain Management degrees can also be found in these popular choices.
What Would I Do a Forklift Operator Do?
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) includes forklift operators in the category of material movers, and that's exactly what they do: move objects from one location to another (www.bls.gov). The Warehousing Education and Research Council (WERC) states that a forklift operator unloads incoming shipments of materials and products and puts them elsewhere for storage (www.werc.org). You may be responsible for ensuring that items aren't damaged in shipping and that the incoming and outgoing shipments contain all the right materials. You may also have to provide maintenance on the forklift you drive and keep records of changes in inventory.
What Training Is Required?
The BLS notes that often the only educational requirement is a high school diploma and a physical examination. The BLS also states that some workers may need to have specialized training if they're handling hazardous materials. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requires that a forklift operator be trained before they can operate the truck (www.osha.gov).
Community colleges offer forklift training through continuing education departments. In a forklift operator training program, you'll learn how to hoist materials using the machine. Parking, safety, maintenance, driving and fueling the forklift are major topics of instruction. You'll learn how the design of a forklift affects how easy it is to drive and what OSHA requires for safe operation.
How Much Can I Earn?
The salary website PayScale.com noted that the middle half of forklift operators with 1-4 years experience earned $25,676-$39,381 in 2011. Those who had been on the job for at least 20 years reported earnings of $29,203-$46,346 in the same year, according to PayScale.com. Through O*NET OnLine, the U.S. Department of Labor forecasted a 3-6% growth in industrial truck and tractor operator hiring from 2008-2018 (www.onetonline.org). This translates to 198,600 jobs between those years.
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