7 Skills You Need to Be a Forklift Operator

The best forklift operators make the job look easy because they have developed the skills necessary to do the job efficiently and safely. Training can help you acquire the skills; experience will make you more competent as time goes on.

Here is a detailed look at some of the particular skills that are required to become a successful forklift operator:

Technical skills

There are various types of forklifts, each with slightly different controls and components. They have their own lifting capacities, and you’ll need to be aware of these limits, so you don’t try to lift anything that would exceed them and cause an accident.

Forklift operators must also have math skills. You may need to calculate loads and understand the amounts on a bill of lading. Efficient forklift operators are proficient with numbers.

Commitment to safety

You must take safety seriously. Careless forklift operators are a danger to themselves and others. You need to be aware of your surroundings at all times, use any safety devices that are provided, inspect your equipment regularly, and obey all safety procedures that have put in place to protect you and your co-workers.

Communication skills

Forklift drivers must interact effectively with co-workers, vendors, and sometimes even customers. Those who can speak clearly and listen attentively have the best chance of finding success as a forklift operator. Being able to communicate through email, telephone, and written notes is also critical.


Priorities change quickly on the shop floor. Forklift drivers must have the ability to adjust to rapidly changing conditions. Operators may need to adapt to new technologies or methods, so being open to new ideas and innovations are essential to success. Drivers who are too rigid in their thinking will lose a considerable amount of their value.


Forklift drivers don’t operate in a vacuum. They must collaborate with others every day to make things work efficiently. Most jobs require workers to be team players, but it’s especially important for the forklift operator who is responsible for moving material quickly, efficiently, and safely.

Sound judgment

Forklift operators are often working in confined areas that require the ability to maneuver or place materials on high shelves. Understanding the limits of the forklift under these conditions and exercising sound judgment decreases the chances of an accident and injury.


While it isn’t a technical skill, reliability is one of those soft skills you must acquire if you don’t have it already. You may be working in a fast-paced environment where everyone has an essential role. The forklift operator is no exception. When an operator comes in late, leaves early or doesn’t show up at all, the entire supply chain suffers. Being reliable is one trait you want to have associated with your name.

If you’re looking for forklift positions, contact us today.

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