So you want to be a forklift driver

So You Want To Be A Forklift Driver . . .

Good choice! Forklift driving is a big profession – and it’s set to grow! Before the Covid-19 pandemic hit Australia, opportunities were generally available across the country, with most forklift drivers working full-time. This year has seen many industry changes, but the good news is that employers still need forklift drivers right now.

But what does the job involve? What qualifications do you need? And where can you find work? Find out more in our handy FAQ.

What does the job involve?

As a forklift driver, you will be expected to carry out a variety of tasks. Here are some of them:

  • Unload and load shipments
  • Stack and unstack goods in storage facilities
  • Safely transport goods to designated areas
  • Ensure goods are stored in the right place
  • Pick orders to meet customer requirements
  • Regularly inspect, monitor and control forklift equipment
  • Carry out basic maintenance and repairs
  • Keep records and reports of activity

What type of industry can I work in?

There’s a huge choice of potential sectors. Most forklift drivers work in manufacturing, transport, postal services, warehousing, wholesale and retail. Exact roles vary according to the sector you work in and the type of goods you are working with.

What sort of hours can I expect?

Working hours vary. Shift work is common, and you may be in a workplace that operates 24 hours a day. Most full-time forklift drivers work around 42 hours per week.

What qualifications do I need?

You need a licence to operate a forklift in NSW.

There are two different types of forklift (high risk) licence:

  • LF: with this licence you can operate any forklift except order picking (LO) forklift trucks. Load-shifting forklifts (LF) are controlled from the driver’s seat at ground level.
  • LO: this covers order-picking forklift trucks and turret trucks. Drivers of order pickers and turret trucks (Very Narrow Aisle trucks) have to wear a harness as they are raised into the air to pick their loads.

Having both an LF and an LO licence will increase your chances of finding a job; however, many people find it useful to start by applying for their LF licence.

Before applying for a licence, you need to complete and pass a short training course, including theory and practice, with a Registered Training Organisation.

To train as a forklift driver and qualify for your licence, you need to be 18 or over, and have enough knowledge of English (written and spoken) to work safely in a high risk job.

Transferring your forklift licence to NSW

If you hold a forklift licence from another state in Australia, you will need to transfer it to NSW. To do this your licence needs to be current or have expired within the last 12 months.

If your licence expired more than 12 months ago, you will need to train and be assessed at a Registered Training Organisation before you can apply for a new licence.

Forklift licences from overseas are not valid for work in Australia.

For more information about applying for or renewing a forklift licence in NSW, see the SafeWork NSW website.

What is the pay like?

  • Approach companies directly – some may take on newly-qualified forklift drivers and train them on the job.
  • Ask your Registered Training Organisation when you have completed your (re)training.
  • Check out online job ads.
  • Register with recruitment agencies.

Useful sites

Australian Government Job Outlook

SafeWork NSW

If you hold a current high risk work licence – LF or LO – and are looking for forklift driver opportunities, please call the Optimal Recruitment team on 02 8416 4181.