The Skills Needed to Be a Successful Forklift Operator

Forklift operators are critical members of business teams in warehousing, manufacturing and agriculture, among other industries. The right experience, licensures and certifications are important to forklift jobs – but there are other qualities equally valuable to a potential employer. Here’s a snapshot of several of them:

Safety Awareness

Nothing is more important than safety at work, especially when driving and handling heavy materials and equipment. Regularly practicing safety standards – without exception – is critical to every forklift operator.

Technical Knowledge

A forklift operator must be knowledgeable about the machine they operate. This includes a solid familiarity with all components of a forklift, as well as basic maintenance to uphold safety and efficiency.

Time Management

Good forklift operators multitask and set priorities for their workdays. If they miss a deadline, they run the risk of slowing production and processes – and it has a negative domino effect on their co-workers.


As a forklift operator, you don’t work alone. Rather, you must be able to collaborate with co-workers, and often with vendors and even external customers. While most jobs require teamwork skills, they’re especially important for those who are responsible for moving parts and materials quickly and efficiently.


You may be expected to calculate load weights, bills of lading or freight quotes with pricing estimates and adjustments. So, as a forklift operator, you should have at least basic math abilities.

Computerized Inventory Processes

Forklift operators typically use automated or computerized inventory management programs. You may be required to assist with both physical inventories and enterprise resource solutions to maintain records and reports.


Driving a forklift is very different than driving a car. A forklift is steered by its rear wheels and can have an unbalanced weight distribution, depending on the load being carried. So, drivers need a high degree of patience. There are no cutting corners – literally or figuratively.


Forklift operators typically have an entire team of people working around and with them. Effective communication means constantly checking with everyone to make sure they’re where they should be. It’s essential to be articulate when speaking, possess strong listening skills, and be able to convey instructions and data to all team members.

Attention to Detail

Being detail-oriented is critical to maintaining workplace safety, efficiency and productivity. So, forklift operators must know their equipment inside and out. They should be able to sense immediately if something is wrong. This starts with thorough machine checks at the start of each shift – and a constant awareness of their working environment.


Workplace priorities change rapidly and constantly. A forklift operator may be needed in a new situation on a moment’s notice. So, they must be adaptable to constantly changing customer demands.

PrideStaff Fresno specializes in hiring forklift operators and in finding job opportunities for related areas such as production, machining, welding, maintenance and quality control. Let us help you find your next dream job using our vast network of clients and market knowledge. Read our related posts or contact us today to learn more.

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on email