How to get into a career operating lift trucks

If you want to get into a career as a lift truck driver, there are generally no set requirements, but there are a number of things you can do to increase your chances of getting a job in the industry. The key is to show any prospective employers that you’re committed to self improvement and learning, even if you’re not receiving a paycheck at the end of it. Read on for a rundown of the things you can do to give yourself the best possible chance of getting a job as a lift truck driver.



 A career as a lift truck operator starts here

If you’re still in school, make sure to study hard for your English, Maths, and Science GCSEs. If you can get an A*-C grade in these subjects, you’re setting yourself up for success. This proves to employers that you have basic maths skills, which is important because calculating load weight is a vital part of a lift truck operator’s job. If this task is done incorrectly, it can be incredibly dangerous. Additionally, a qualification in English demonstrates communication skills, which are fundamental when working in a potentially hazardous environment. More generally, getting GCSE qualifications will indicate that you have the work ethic to apply yourself and achieve things.

If you’ve already left school, and didn’t manage to get these qualifications, don’t worry. There’s plenty of other ways to prove your worth to any prospective employer, which are outlined below. 

Work experience 

lift truck

This is a big one. Getting a work experience placement in a warehouse environment will be very helpful in working towards your goal. There are two primary reasons why this will help you. Firstly, it gives you valuable experience that will make you more of an attractive prospect in the job market. The important thing to remember is that every time an employer hires someone, they’re taking a risk. Your task as a candidate is to convince them that the risk is as minimal as possible, and proving you have experience is one way to do this.

Secondly, it shows initiative. Bosses generally don’t enjoy micro-managing their staff, so anything that proves a candidate is willing to take the bull by the horns and get things done is a positive. To get work experience, you’ll need to get on the phone and start talking to warehouse owners who might be able to offer you some work. Who knows, once you’ve completed your placement, they may offer you a job themselves!

 Practical skills


Demonstrating that you have practical skills is another way to impress any prospective employers. Even if the skills you have are not explicitly linked to lift truck operation, it shows that you have a willingness to learn, and the motivation to get stuck in. If the skills you have are related to forklift operation, such as engine repair, stock taking, or driving, this will go in your favour even more.



Embarking on an apprenticeship programme, even if it is not in a warehouse environment, will greatly increase your chances of getting a job as a forklift operator. The transferable skills you will gain during your apprenticeship will help you demonstrate your value to any prospective employers. The vast majority of forklift operators will be employed in their first forklift job before completing their training, which will be paid for by the  company. So if you can prove your competence, experience, and willingness to learn, that should be enough to get your first forklift job. An apprenticeship in a practical discipline is a great way to work towards getting a career in forklifts.

Lift truck training

Before any warehouse manager worth their salt will let you sit behind the wheel of a lift truck, they’ll insist that you pass your training. Typically, if you’ve been hired to operate forklifts, and you’ve never done it before, your boss will send you on a forklift training course that they’ll pay for. However, if you’re really struggling to get a job in the industry, you could always seek out forklift training off your own back.

Going down this route will more or less guarantee that you secure a job as a lift truck operator. But there’s a catch; you’ll have to fund it yourself. If you do this, you’ll be an attractive prospect to employers, because they won’t have to pay for your training.


HITEC specialises in hire and sales of materials handling vehicles, including forklift trucks. Get In Touch to discuss how we can help you with your material handling needs.


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