How Much You Can Expect to Make Driving a Forklift?

Photo courtesy of Teambonkers73 at

Photo courtesy of Teambonkers73 at

Forklift operator is generally considered to be a pretty good job.

It is a specialized skill which is usually in high demand, even though learning how to drive a forklift safely is relatively simple and doesn’t require advanced education.

Once you gain experience as a forklift operator, you can perform the same duties essentially anywhere. So if you want to move to a new area or work for a different company, finding a new job is usually relatively easy.

And it’s not always a physically demanding job. You get to sit in the vehicle’s cab throughout most of your shift and the machine does most of the heavy lifting.

But what about the pay? Is being a forklift driver something that pays enough to be a career?

Forklift Operator Pay

Like most jobs, the answer to that question is: “It depends on where you work.”

The starting pay for forklift drivers is usually about $15 per hour, according to a national survey conducted by the job finding website Snagajob. The more experience you get, however, the more you can expect to earn.

Forklift operators who have worked at a few different places are highly skilled at what they do can sometimes demand and get $20 per hour or higher to start.

Plus, like any job, the more time you spend with a single employer, the more likely it is that you will get regular pay raises.

Opportunity for Advancement

Most forklift operators are hourly employees, rather than salaried. But drivers that are skilled, careful, and focused can be promoted quickly in some instances.

An experienced driver with a good attendance record and a positive attitude can often be considered a top candidate for supervisor, trainer, or even manager, depending on the organization.

As a forklift trainer, for example, you may be able to earn a higher hourly rate while teaching and mentoring new workers on the safe operation of forklifts in the workplace.

And because just about every business that handles physical products, equipment, or other materials uses forklifts, forklift operators can target a good company and progress up the ranks by working hard, staying safe, and being an example to their peers.

Forklift Careers

Another benefit to being a forklift operator is that it is a job you can do anywhere and anytime.

If you don’t want to commit to a full-time career, if you are retired, or if you are still in school and don’t want to work 40 hours per week, you can often pick up part-time work or have a flexible schedule as a forklift operator.

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