A forklift operator needs:
- the ability to accurately judge distances and weights
- to be safety conscious
- good eyesight and hearing
- to be able to sit for long periods
- the ability to remain alert and aware of surroundings
- the ability to follow instructions.
Forklift operators work in locations all over Western Australia. They work in warehouses, factories, timber yards, shipping terminals and anywhere else where large loads must regularly be moved. Forklift operators can work both indoors and outdoors, and depending on the type of forklift they are operating, may be exposed to a variety of weather conditions. They often work in areas where they are required to wear safety gear, such as hearing protection and high-visibility clothing. Shift work may be required, which can include nights and weekends.
On average, forklift drivers can expect to earn between $800 and $999 per week ($41 600 and $51 999 per year), depending on the organisation they work for, and their level of experience. As a forklift driver develops their skills, their earning potential will generally increase.
Forklifts come in a variety of sizes - from small battery-operated, walk-behind forklifts to machines large enough to move a fully loaded shipping container. They can also come with special attachments, including safety cages for lifting people. Most forklift operators use radios for communication and may also use electronic equipment to record the movements of stock in storage facilities.
To become a forklift operator you usually have to obtain a High Risk Work licence issued by WorkSafe.
In order to be issued a High Risk Work license, you must be at least 18 years old and complete a training course offered at TAFE Colleges and other registered training organisations throughout Western Australia.
You may improve your job prospects if you complete a qualification in warehousing operations.
Apprenticeships and traineeships
As an apprentice or trainee, you enter into a formal training contract with an employer. You spend most of your time working and learning practical skills on the job and you spend some time undertaking structured training with a registered training provider of your choice. They will assess your skills and when you are competent in all areas, you will be awarded a nationally recognised qualification.
If you are still at school you can access an apprenticeship through your school. You generally start your school based apprenticeship by attending school three days a week, spending one day at a registered training organisation and one day at work. Talk to your school's VET Co-ordinator to start your training now through VET in Schools. If you get a full-time apprenticeship you can apply to leave school before reaching the school leaving age.
If you are no longer at school you can apply for an apprenticeship or traineeship and get paid while you learn and work.
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If you think you already have some of the skills or competencies, obtained either through non-formal or informal learning, you may be able to gain credit through recognition of prior learning.