How to become a Reach Forklift Truck Driver, Factory Worker Driving Forklift through a Warehouse

How to become a Reach Forklift Truck Driver?

Overview

Job Role Reach 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 Reach FLT Driver? 

A reach forklift truck driver usually works in a warehouse, and is responsible for moving goods and materials. But it’s not as simple as it sounds. Operating a forklift requires precision and concentration, and is a physically demanding job. A reach FLT can reach up to 4.5 metres and there are many aspects to consider in order to complete the job safely.

There are warehouses needing qualified reach FLT drivers all over the country. So you shouldn’t have to move for a job if you don’t want to. This also means there are lots of opportunities and vacancies for you to apply for.

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; this 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 involve arranging and stacking goods in the correct place, and ensuring the relevant paperwork is complete for each of your tasks. As with many roles that require you to operate high-risk machinery, you will also be responsible for vehicle maintenance and adhering to health and safety regulations.

You cannot legally operate a reach 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 reach 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 reach 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 of working in a warehouse or factory will be a bonus when applying for jobs as a reach forklift truck driver. Make sure you include this on your CV when applying for jobs. You will need to have good attention to detail to be successful in this role. This means noticing when machinery isn’t working properly, being able to accurately move loads in confined spaces, and estimate the weights of loads. Another important skill is being able to stay focused in busy or loud environments, and not getting distracted.

Being highly organised, and efficient as you work, is always important in the workplace. The ability to work in a team and take instructions from your supervisor or team leader is also key. Maturity and being able to work sensibly is very important. Operating any forklift has the potential to be dangerous and cause injury or damage. Taking your job seriously and always acting with a high level of professionalism will make you a stand out employee in the transport and logistics sector.

If you want to progress your career and make yourself a more employable candidate, it is worth considering extending your forklift licence. A conversion course for counterbalance forklift trucks normally takes two days. You can read about how to become a counterbalance forklift truck drivier here. And it will then 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 with lots of opportunities for hard-working and reliable FLT drivers. As you gain more experience, you can expect to be paid a higher salary.  This is a great job if you enjoy being active and working in a close-knit team. But it is not an easy job, and you must be prepared for the long hours and shift work.

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