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A Concise Guide To Becoming A Forklift Driver Or Instructor

April 9 2023 - There are a number of prominent industries where forklift driving features heavily - and is well-paid as a result. If you work in one of these industries (whether in construction, or logistics, or manufacturing of some kind) then you may be wondering if it would be worth your while to pursue a career as the operator of one. Perhaps one day you could even take the next step, and become a forklift driving instructor.

To help you make that all-important decision, here is a concise guide to the pros and cons of becoming a full-time forklift driver (and, possibly, instructor). It will cover the essential information you need to know, such as what qualities you need to be a forklift driver, how well-paid the role can be, and, of course, those aforementioned downsides.

Intrigued? Letís dive right in and find out more.

Getting Your License

If you believe that becoming a forklift driver - and maybe, one day, an instructor - is the right step for you, then the first place to start is with getting your license. This is an essential step, as you need the right certification in order to qualify for any forklift operating jobs in the UK.

Fortunately, getting your license isnít a complex or drawn-out affair. In some cases, you may not even need to fund it yourself, as your company may offer to pay for your forklift driving training because they will reap the benefits once you are qualified.

If you do decide to pay for your own license, you should be prepared for the cost to vary considerably depending on your location and, also, on the type of vehicle you choose to drive. There are several different types of forklift, including reach forklifts, cherry pickers, and counterbalance forklifts, and they each require different knowledge and techniques in order to safely manoeuvre them.

When it comes to the actual training, as with learning to drive a car, this will consist of both theory and practical education. You will need to be clued up on your essential health and safety knowledge, as well as on the technical aspect of operating the type of forklift you have chosen to specialise in. You will also need a thorough grounding in aspects such as counterbalancing heavy weights, how to inspect your forklift to make sure it is safe to drive, and other essential elements such as the different loading capacities of various forklifts.

Essential Qualities Of A Forklift Driver

There are a number of general qualities that come in very useful if you want to transition to being a forklift driver. These include:

  • Flexibility

    When you take on the role of a forklift operator, you may be expected to work shifts that fall outside the traditional 9-5 pattern. The specifics will, of course, depend on the industry and the job in question.

    Often, forklift drivers will work in settings where their shifts can vary to include night shifts and weekends, and they may be expected to work for either 8, 10, or 12 hours at a time, depending on the company.

  • Patience

    Patience is a vital quality for a forklift driver, as a lack of it could potentially lead to workplace mishaps, and maybe even an accident. When operating a forklift, you may often have to deal with large, heavy and unwieldy loads which need to be stacked with precision.

    Trying to rush, and becoming impatient, will make you more likely to make a mistake that may result in a whole load having to be restarted or even scrapped. This will cost you time, and will cost your employer money, so itís always best to take things slow and steady.

  • Time Management

    As a forklift driver, you are one of the links in an important chain of people, departments and processes that, in theory, will run like clockwork and are all dependent on each other for success.

    As a result, itís important that you have sound time management skills, as if you fall behind or fail to react to unexpected circumstances in a timely fashion, then you will not just be holding up your department but the entire manufacturing or construction process.

  • Vigilance

    Last but certainly not least, when you are operating a forklift itís essential to be vigilant and aware of your machine and your surroundings at all times. Before you begin your shift you will need to inspect the forklift and make sure that it is in good working order, as if there is any damage or a fault, this could cause a serious problem.

    You also need to be aware of any people or vehicles in your vicinity at all times while you are operating the forklift, to reduce the risk of a workplace accident.

Becoming A Forklift Driving Instructor

Once you have obtained your forklift license and been driving successfully for a while, you may decide that you want to take the next step in your career and become a forklift driving instructor. This will allow you to train others and pass on your knowledge and skill.

Of course, before you can do this, you will need to do some more training of your own, to develop the expertise required to become a competent instructor. Fortunately, thatís where HL Training Services can step in to help, with their accredited forklift instructor course that gives you the option to become a fully qualified AITT, ITSSAR or RTITB instructor in just 10 days.

Your Earning Potential

Finally, we come to a question which is probably of great significance to you in your career plans as either a forklift driver or a forklift instructor. How much can you expect to make, as a fully qualified operator or trainer?

When it comes to being a forklift operator, the average national salary is £12.30 per hour as of March 2023- however, this may increase depending on your location and the company offering the position.

As for being a forklift driving instructor, you can expect to earn £15.97 per hour, which amounts to an average annual salary of over £32, 300.


As you can see, becoming a forklift driver requires skill and hard work but it can also open doors to a number of vital industries - not to mention paving the way toward a potential career as an instructor, which would result in an increase in your annual salary.



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