If you've just graduated from high school or are considering switching careers, training to be a forklift operator can have you quickly earning money, working flexible hours and working somewhat on your own. Attending a university is not required to work as a forklift operator. All you have to do is complete a short training course. 

Working as a forklift operator

Forklift operators work in warehouses, construction sites and other storage facilities, moving inventory and supplies that have been delivered by train, truck or ship. They are also called to move pallets and other large items from one part of a warehouse to another. Because deliveries can be made at all hours, forklift operators frequently work nights, weekends and holidays. Overtime is often available for forklift operators. Motivated operators can move up the career path to become supervisors or floor managers.

Training as a forklift operator

Employment as a forklift operator generally requires that you be at least 18 years old, have a high school diploma or the equivalent and complete a forklift training course. Such courses cover how to drive and maneouver a forklift (usually in a mock warehouse setting) as well as training on how to change the attachments on the vehicle, safety and maintenance. These types of courses usually take from two days to a week to complete. Most courses combine hands-on training with classroom instruction and result in a certification of completion. Continuing education is required periodically to stay current on the latest safety procedures and new equipment.

The employment outlook for forklift operators

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the average salary for a forklift operator (or materials moving machine operator) is $33,640 a year or about $16.18 per hour. That figure can vary somewhat depending on what part of the country you work, your education and your experience as a forklift operator. The BLS estimates that there are 679,000 such positions currently in the United States and that the number of jobs will grow by around 19,500 (or three percent) in the next ten years. In Canada, there are approximately 56,500 material handler jobs. Approximately 900 new Canadian material handler jobs are added each year.

Working as a forklift operator can be rewarding and steady work. You usually have a great deal of autonomy, work flexible hours and are well-compensated for your efforts. If you're undecided about a post-secondary school career, training to be a forklift operator is worth considering. Contact local professionals for forklift training by Liftruck Training Institute Of Canada.