Forklift Operator (Driver)

Note: Completion of a TAFE SA course does not guarantee an employment outcome. Formal requirements other than educational qualifications (eg licensing, professional registration), may apply to some occupations.

Job Prospects
Openings 5 years to November 2018: 25,001 to 50,000
Median weekly earnings: $901 to $1000
Australian Government Department of Employment 2014
Ever wondered how all of those cartons on the very top shelf at your local hardware store managed to get there? Probabilities are that a forklift operator, using a truck fitted with a load carriage, was responsible.

There are currently around 4,600 forklift drivers employed in South Australia. Employment is largely full-time and most work in the manufacturing industry. Most persons in this occupation are male and most are employed in the Adelaide metropolitan area. This occupation has a younger age profile with only around a third of workers aged 45 years or older.

TAFE SA courses that may be relevant for: Forklift Operator (Driver)


  • Whether its a heavy crate, carton, container or pallet of goods you need shifted, stacked or unstacked, you need the skills of a forklift operator. Driving a truck that is fitted with a load carriage, they are able to manipulate the fork-shaped carriage to lift and position heavy objects. Good Judgement is a Must: The role of a forklift operator goes far beyond just lifting and stacking a load and driving a forklift truck is definitely not for everyone, according to a former training consultant to the Road Transport Training Council. 'People in this occupation need excellent judgement skills. They must be able to estimate how much a load weighs to determine if they'll be able to carry it and be able to judge the width and height of a load to ensure it will fit into a designated area. They also need good judgement for negotiating tight turns, moving the truck around obstacles and for driving in reverse,' says Will.

  • There are 14% of forklift drivers who have Certificate III or Certificate IV. While 77% of forklift drivers have no post qualifications it is recommended that you gain the available qualifications to get the best possible chance of employment.

    TAFE SA offers a short course in Licence to Operate a Forklift Truck which may assist in gaining employment in the occupation.

  • Outside of their driving duties, its also a forklift operator's responsibility to keep a check on his/her forklift. They should know how to inspect the vehicle for fuel, oil, hydraulic fluid, coolant and battery water. However, major problems are likely to be referred to a supervisor. On the downside, operators all warn that if you can't tolerate sitting for long periods of time, perhaps this is not the occupation for you.

    There will always be a need for forklift operators. 'Its a very stable occupation, offering long-term employment. Its an occupation that's been around for a very long time and its not going to disappear. People will always need items moved or stored. And even though warehouses will become computerised, there's still going to be a need for forklift operators.'

  • Aside from good judgement, forklift operators should have an understanding of how heavy mobile machinery operates and be willing to follow instructions. To help avoid accidents, good hand-eye co-ordination, reflexes and eyesight are also important. Safety is also a concern. Going down a steep surface with a load can be difficult, so finding the safest route is part of the job.

    One Transport Owner and Forklift Operator, recalls one of his more unusual loads. 'I had to load two caged lions, weighing about one tonne, into a truck and then transport them from Narrogin to Ballarat in Victoria.'

  • You have to undertake the transportation and distribution of all types of freight throughout the State and the rest of Australia. Having a forklift truck on-board ensures the freight can be easily loaded and unloaded as required. In South Australia, forklift operators are mostly employed in the transport and distribution and manufacturing industries. They may work at warehouses, factories, timber yards and shipping terminals.

    Forklift operators must enjoy practical and manual activities. They need to be good working with their hands and are able to judge distances. It is essential that they have a high level of safety awareness and good eyesight and hearing.

  • His sentiments reinforce employment forecasts, which predicts above average growth. A high turnover rate of operators also contributes to good employment prospects. 'There's lots of variety because every day we get a change of scenery and we're outside most of the time which is a big plus. Its challenging because if you miscalculate something the job can easily be botched. You really do need excellent judgement,' says a local truck driver and forklift operator.

    For further information, contact:

    Department of State Development
    Phone: (08) 8226 3821

    Logistics Information & Navigation Centre (LINC)
    Phone: (08) 8447 0635