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Safety & Training

How Much Do Forklift Drivers Make?

Posted September 19, 2022

Are you considering a career where you’re always on the move? If you like the idea of staying active at work and providing an essential service to supply chains, you might enjoy being a forklift operator. These skilled professionals work with industrial machines to lift and carry heavy loads in all kinds of settings. It’s a big job and involves safety training and know-how.

Forklift operators are essential to keeping materials moving. But just how much do forklift drivers make? According to information from the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), forklift drivers and material moving machine operators make a median hourly wage of $18.45 per hour. This average salary works out to be $38,380 annually.

Interested in becoming a forklift operator? Let’s dive into a few details about a material handling career as a forklift driver, including salary, training, and more.

What Do Forklift Drivers Do?

Forklift drivers are essential to keeping materials moving and the supply chain staying strong. But what exactly does a forklift driver do?

A forklift driver is responsible for moving goods. You’ll find forklift drivers working in all kinds of warehouse environments, as well as industrial sites, construction sites, factories, and other settings. They use a forklift to move materials and goods from place to place, unload shipments from trucks, stack boxes and pallets for storage, and perform other tasks.

Some of the responsibilities forklift drivers manage on the job include:

  • Unloading materials and goods from incoming trucks
  • Transporting stock, pallets, crates, and boxes to get them ready for shipment or storage
  • Moving raw materials to the production site
  • Inspecting equipment and machinery to make sure it is in good shape and safe to use
  • Performing basic forklift maintenance
  • Keeping records of materials handled and other activities


Do Forklift Drivers Make Good Money?

Forklift drivers make a median annual salary that is just shy of $40,000.

But you’ll find that some operators can make even more. There are a variety of forklifts and material-moving machines that require skilled operators. How much you make as a forklift driver might depend on the machine you’re operating, your training, years of experience, location, and other factors.

Highest Paying Forklift Driver Jobs

Some forklift operators make more money than others. Let’s look at the top 3 highest-paying forklift operator jobs in 2022.

  • Construction and Warehouse Equipment Operators: Forklift drivers make good money on construction sites and in warehouses. BLS data shows that material moving machine operators can bring home up to $62,600 per year when they work on construction job sites and up to $58,220 per year in a warehouse setting.
  • Skidder Operators: A skidder is a piece of equipment similar to a forklift that is used in the logging industry. It is used to remove cut trees and clear the work area. Operators can make up to $49,500 per year, according to salary estimates from ZipRecruiter.
  • TWIC Holders: If you want to work in secure areas on docks and at ports, you’ll need to hold a Transportation Worker Identification Credential (TWIC). Forklift operators who earn this designation from the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) can make a little more money than the typical driver, around $42,500 per year, according to ZipRecruiter.

Want to know more about the types of forklifts you might use on the job? Learn the difference between sit-down vs stand-up forklifts.

There are other variables in determining how much forklift drivers make. One significant factor in forklift driver salary is your location. Let’s look at a few states with the highest forklift driver salaries.

States With the Highest Forklift Operator Salaries

How much money you can make as a forklift driver can depend on where you are located. Forklift operator salary can vary from state to state. 

Here are the top 5 states with the highest forklift operator salaries and their mean annual wages, according to BLS data:

  1. Hawaii – $60,450
  2. Washington, D.C. – $52,640
  3. Alaska – $50,650
  4. Wyoming – $49,020
  5. Rhode Island – $48,230

How Do I Become a Forklift Operator?

Data from the BLS shows the employment of material moving machine operators, including forklift drivers, to grow by 7% by 2030. 

This increase means jobs are being added to the market and businesses will be hiring more and more forklift operators over the next few years. The increase in employment numbers creates opportunities for those interested in becoming a forklift operator. 

Forklift drivers are skilled professionals, which means you’ll need some training before you get behind the wheel. The Occupational Safety Health Administration (OSHA) has training rules for forklift operators. In fact, OSHA requires that operators obtain forklift certification before going to work. This certification is based on safety and injury prevention.

Learn more about forklift certification and how Naumann/Hobbs can help you get the forklift training you need.

Forklift Training from Naumann/Hobbs

Forklift training from Naumann/Hobbs can help you get to work in a material handling career. Many employers work with Naumann/Hobbs to offer forklift certification programs that can get you on the warehouse floor and behind the wheel of a forklift in just a short amount of time.

Naumann/Hobbs offers forklift training programs for new drivers just breaking into the career, as well as seasoned operators who might need a refresher course. We’ll ensure forklift drivers stay safe and certified with the right skills to get the job done.

Ready to learn more about forklift training from Naumann/Hobbs? Call us at (866) 266-2244 or contact us online today.

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