How to become a Counterbalance Forklift Truck Driver. A Warehouse Operative Driving a Counterbalance Forklift Truck , taking down pallets

How to become a Counterbalance Forklift Truck Driver?

Overview

Job Role Counterbalance Forklift Truck Driver (aka FLT Driver)
Responsibilities Arranging and stacking goods in the correct place.
Salary

£8.17 - £13.46 per hour / £17,000 - £28,000 per year

Required Qualifications

Forklift licence


What do I need to do to become a Counterbalance FLT Driver?

Drivers of counterbalance forklift trucks are responsible for transporting goods and materials. This is the most common type of forklift driver, so once you have your licence you will be a highly employable candidate in the transport and logistics industry. Counterbalance FLTs can be operated indoors or outdoors, and are able to be driven in uneven floor surfaces. However, it cannot extend as high as reach FLTs, which requires different training and licence.

As an operator of a counterbalance forklift, you could find yourself in many different types of workplaces; from constructions sites to ports, warehouses, storage yards and factories. There are transport companies all over the country ready to employ counterbalance FLT drivers. The average salary for a forklift driver can be between £17,000 and £28,000 depending on experience and the company you work for. In full-time employment you can expect to work up to 48 hours a week. Shift work is common in this type of role, which can give you flexibility with days off but also means early starts, and working in the evening and at weekends.

Your day-to-day duties will include unloading goods from trucks, ships or aircrafts, and moving them to the correct place. You may also be picking items for delivery orders and loading them. As with any operator of a potentially dangerous transport vehicle, you will also be responsible for maintaining the safety of your machine, and ensure you’re following health and safety regulations at all times.

You cannot legally operate a counterbalance FLT without a licence. So, before you start applying for jobs it can be beneficial to do your training and licence test. The good news is you don’t need to have any experience of driving a forklift truck to start learning with an accredited training provider.

In the UK, there are six approved training companies: Association of Industrial Truck Trainers (AITT), Independent Training Standards Scheme and Register (ITSSR), Lantra Awards, National Plant Operators Registration Scheme, Road Transport Industry Training Board (RTITB), Construction Industry Training Board (CITB). Start by looking for a training centre that is close to where you live, then go in or call them about enrolling in the reach FLT training course. Before you sign up and pay the fees, make sure this is the career you want to go into and that you’ve gone through any questions you have with the training provider.

As someone with no forklift experience, you will do between three and six days of training before you take the test. The course will cost you around £700. Some training centres may offer financing options if you don’t have the money to pay upfront. Make sure you find out and understand all of the information about the repayment and terms before you sign up.

The forklift driver training will cover all the key areas; such as Health and Safety Executive (HSE) legislation and safety guidelines, an introduction to the forklift truck, how to start, stop and basic maneuvering, operating with pallets and loads, and difficult loads.

At the end of your training, you will be tested before getting your counterbalance forklift licence. The test has two parts, a theory test and a practical skills test; it has a similar format to getting a car driving licence in the UK.

Once you have your have your counterbalance forklift licence, it’s time to start applying for jobs. Vacancies will usually be advertised on specialist jobs boards, and online on the careers page of companies’ websites. Make sure you read the full job description and apply in the way that it asks. This could be by sending an email, using an online job application form or by calling them to find out more about the job. Don’t forget to include details of your licence, you work history and education, as well as any relevant work experience you have. This could be working in a warehouse or factory, or driving professionally. It’s very important to be on time (this means 10 minutes early) for your interview and don’t forget to be friendly and professional.

It may be possible to find an employer to take you on without a licence, and provide your training in-house or even arrange for you to undertake the training. This option is good because it means you don’t have to pay for the training yourself, but these opportunities will be harder to get. You will have to show the employer that you will make an excellent worker and are worth them investing their time and money to get you a licence. If you’re unsuccessful applying for reach FLT driver jobs without a licence, consider arranging the training for yourself.

After three years, the HSE recommends that you do a refresher course, which takes half to a full day. This is also required if you change employers, or are seen to be operating a FLT unsafely or are involved in an accident. Use it as a chance to get up-to-date on the current rules and legislation and to improve your technical skills and understanding of the machinery.

This is a physically demanding job, and there will be times when you need to safely move heavy items yourself. You will not normally need a medical examination to undertake training, but future employers may do a health check before offering you a job. If you’re worried about your suitability and healthiness for the job, you could talk to your training provider before signing up.

There are no specific qualifications or education subjects required for this type of role. However, you will need basic numeracy skills and to be able to speak, read and write in English well enough to do the training and forklift driving licence test explained above. If you are concerned about whether you have adequate Maths and English skills, speak to the training provider for advice.
Experience working in a warehouse or factory will be a bonus when applying for jobs as a forklift truck driver. Make sure you include this and your work history on your CV when applying for jobs.

You need excellent concentration and accuracy to be effective in this type of role. Maneuvering the vehicle in tight spaces, and accurately stacking cargo are a key part of this job. You will also need to be organised with the paperwork that is required.

Working well in a team and being able to communicate with your colleagues will be in important, as it’s unlikely you’ll be working alone. Listening to instructions and carrying out tasks in the way your manager or supervisor has asked will also be important in this type of work.

A natural progression for your career, which will also make you more employable candidate, is to get your reach FLT licence. This extra training is done through a conversion course and normally takes two days. It will mean you can drive 99% of all forklift trucks in the UK. As you already have experience, and the training is shorter, the cost for this is less than the beginner training. You could also look into becoming a warehouse manager, forklift driving trainer or forklift truck engineer.

This is a stable career choice if you’re a practical person and enjoy getting the job done. But, if you don’t enjoy early starts or aren’t good at concentrating for long periods of time, then this may not be the right job for you.


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