Forklift Operator Kaitaraiwa Waka Uta

Forklift operators operate vehicles that have a lifting platform for shifting and stacking heavy articles such as pallets, bales, crates, containers or cartons.

Forklift operators may do some or all of the following:

  • maintain forklifts
  • operate forklifts in warehouses, construction sites and wharves
  • ensure forklift loads are stable and safe
  • fill in paperwork, such as delivery forms, and electronically record the movement of goods.

Physical Requirements

Forklift operators need to have good hand-eye co-ordination and reflexes, as well as good eyesight (with or without corrective lenses). They also need a good level of strength, as they may need to lift heavy products (up to 20 kilograms).

Useful Experience

Useful experience for forklift operators includes:

  • warehouse and coldstore work
  • stevedoring
  • work as a loader-driver
  • any driving work.

Experience driving heavy vehicles or any work in manufacturing, or transport and logistics is also helpful.

Personal Qualities

Forklift operators need to be:

  • accurate
  • co-ordinated
  • careful and alert
  • practical
  • able to follow instructions.


Forklift operators need to have:

  • good driving skills
  • thorough understanding of the operation and limitations of a forklift
  • ability to judge distances, weights and volumes
  • knowledge of the code of practice for forklift operators, including health and safety regulations
  • knowledge of the fuel requirements of different forklifts including diesel, LPG, CNG (compressed natural gas) and battery-operated models.


Forklift operators:

  • usually work regular business hours, but may work evenings and weekends as some warehouses are 24-hour operations
  • may be required to work extra hours during busy periods
  • work in warehouses, factories, coldstores, timber yards and shipping terminals
  • work in most weather conditions.

Subject Recommendations

There are no specific secondary education requirements to become a forklift operator, but employers usually prefer you to have NCEA Level 1 with maths and English.

Forklift Operators can earn around $23-$24 per hour.

Pay for forklift operators depends on the industry they work in and their level of experience. However, they usually earn between minimum wage and $24 an hour.

Source: Hays Recruitment and Trade Me Jobs, 2018.

Forklift operators may progress to:

  • work with heavier machinery such as 15-tonne forklifts or straddle carriers in ports
  • work as dispatch co-ordinators or inventory controllers within the company they work for
  • supervisory or management positions within the company they work for.

They may also set up their own businesses, or become forklift operator trainers.

Years Of Training

<1 year of training required.

To become a forklift operator you need a Forklift Operator Certificate. The certificate shows that you have been trained according to the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment's code of practice.

  • To operate a heavy forklift, you need to have a Class 2 driver's licence.
  • To operate a forklift on a road or in a public space, you must have a Class 1 driver's licence with a forklift (F) endorsement.
Forklift Operator