Career outlook for forklift truck operator

Figures and forecasts for roles at the same level, which require similar skills and qualifications.

Average UK salary


Currently employed in Scotland


Five year job forecast


"LMI for All" supplies our salary and employment status information. "Oxford Economics" supplies job forecasts and employment figures.

What's it like?

You would load and unload goods and deliveries. You’d move them to and from storage areas in a warehouse or depot.

You’d need to be safety-conscious and responsible when using the forklifts and other trucks.

It would be important to be able to judge weights, distances and heights and have the physical co-ordination to operate the truck. There may be busy times when you have to work quickly.

You would:

  • Load and unload goods from vehicles such as lorries or aircraft
  • Move goods packed on pallets or in crates around the storage facility
  • Stack goods in the correct storage bays, following stock control instructions
  • Check loads are secure
  • Stack empty pallets
  • Do daily equipment checks, for example recharging the truck's battery
  • Help to load and unload trucks by hand where necessary
  • Perform other warehouse tasks like packing

You'd need to be able to follow written instructions and keep records.

You could work with various machines including counter-balance trucks, telescopic handlers, side-loading trucks and pedestrian-controlled pallet lifting equipment.

Working conditions


You would normally work between 37 and 42 hours a week. Shiftwork, including nights, is common and overtime is often available.

UK employment status





Self employed


Here are some of the skills needed for this job. Sign in to see how your skills match up.

  • Listening
  • Verbal communication
  • Observation
  • Attention to detail
  • Concentrating
  • Time management
  • Taking responsibility

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Getting in

Entry requirements for courses can change. Always contact the college, university or training provider to check exactly what you’ll need.


There are no formal qualifications to get into this job but most employers value a good general education.

To become a forklift truck operator most employers will ask that you complete a training course, usually on the job, to show that you can operate the forklift safely.

Many of these courses will require good maths skills to help you work out weights and distances.

Useful subjects

  • English
  • Maths
  • Technologies subjects, such as practical electronics

Helpful to have

Relevant work-based qualifications such as a Scottish Vocational Qualification in Warehousing and Storage (SVQ level 2/3) or be willing to work towards qualifications once in a job.