Becoming a forklift driver can be an extremely rewarding role with possible career progression to become a shift supervisor, team leader, a forklift instructor or a maintenance engineer.
With average salaries ranging between £17,000 and £30,000 a year, and a mixture of temporary and permanent roles available, those looking to become a forklift driver have plenty to be optimistic about.
However, driving a forklift presents many dangers both to the driver and those who may work in close contact with the machine. Therefore, a career as a forklift driver is only for those who understand the huge responsibility that will be placed upon them to carry out their role safely and efficiently.
All that’s left for interested candidates is to read up on the skills, training and personal attributes needed to become a forklift driver in the UK. Here’s an overview to guide you.
What Do You Need To Become A Forklift Driver?
In the UK, you will need what’s colloquially known as a forklift licence to drive a forklift truck. This can include the likes of a Level 2 Award or Certificate in Forklift Truck Operations which can be gained through an apprenticeship. Or, you can obtain an FLT counterbalance licence which is a training course aimed at those working in construction or warehouse environments.
The qualification requirements will differ depending on the training route you take, but most training providers or colleges will expect a minimum of 2 GCSEs at grades 9 to 3 (A* to D). You should also be at least age 17, physically fit, have good cognitive ability, great dexterity, concentration skills, knowledge of public safety and an overall professional attitude towards your work.
There are lots of types of forklift training courses available. At the bottom rung of the ladder, a beginner’s course will cover all the basic safety and operational aspects of driving a forklift. However, there are also experienced courses for those looking to progress to engineer or trainer level, just as there are refresher courses, which need to be completed every 3 years to retain your licence.
What To Look For In A Training Provider
Accreditation – Those who offer forklift training must be fully accredited and insured. A day course including an introduction to forklift driving or a refresher course can cost in the region of £300, so before parting with your cash, check out their pass rate and overall user feedback.
Safety – The training provider must have a comprehensive and current understanding of both forklift safety as well as health and safety regulations. This is to ensure everything you are taught will be of genuine benefit, with no possible knowledge gaps that could lead to serious injury.
Professionalism – Although you may view forklift training as a formality, it is in fact a vital skill needed to operate a forklift safely. The training company should instil good values in students including having good concentration while at work. Plus, what to avoid doing which may make you unfit to operate a forklift. Definitely opt for a company that wants to give you every possible tip and piece of advice to make you the best forklift driver possible.
How Long Will My Forklift Training take?
The duration of a forklift driver course can be anywhere from 1-3 days for private courses and up to three years for an apprenticeship where forklift training will be taught alongside other skills.
Obviously, it’s ideal to take a shorter course if you can afford to do so, as you’ll be able to get up and running sooner. However, one advantage of an apprenticeship is that you’ll learn more about working in the environment itself such as a warehouse or construction site, meaning you’ll gain vital life and job skills that can’t be taught in a couple of days.
If in doubt about the best route for you, it’s worth speaking to a careers advisor.
Metreel Material Handling UK
Metreel is based in Derbyshire working across the UK and beyond, as a leading manufacturer of material handling, fall protection equipment and powerfeed cabling. For any forklift operators or those who own premises where forklifts are in operation, we can offer various solutions to assist with lifting and repositioning of heavy goods.