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Industrial Truck Operator Job Description, Career as an Industrial Truck Operator, Salary, Employment

Definition and Nature of the Work, Education and Training Requirements, Getting the Job

Education and Training None

Salary Median—$12.78 per hour

Employment Outlook Poor

Definition and Nature of the Work

Industrial truck operators use specially designed vehicles to move heavy boxes, crates, and drums. They work in many different places, from toy factories to steel mills to supermarkets. Even the federal government employs industrial truck operators for its warehouses.

Some of the vehicles have large forks attached to the front. By moving levers and pedals, the operators can slip the forks under pallets or skids, which are platforms made of wood or reinforced plastic. When the pallets are moved, the materials stacked on them are not disturbed and do not have to be restacked. Some trucks have scoops that pick up loose materials such as coal. Others are able to lift boxes high into the air to stack them on top of other boxes. Industrial trucks may also be fitted with tow bars to pull small trailers. Most industrial trucks run on large batteries; others run on gasoline.

Operators generally must be able to do minor repairs on their trucks. They also must keep records of the materials they move.

Industrial truck operators lift heavy materials quickly and effortlessly. (© Lester Lefkowitz/Corbis.)

Education and Training Requirements

Some employers prefer to hire high school graduates, but diplomas or the equivalent are not required. Most companies require examinations to determine physical fitness, coordination, and depth perception.

Almost all industrial truck operators are trained on the job by experienced workers. It takes about three days to learn to maneuver the truck and to move materials safely; it can take considerably longer to become familiar with the layout of warehouses or storage areas.

Getting the Job

Job seekers can apply directly to large manufacturing firms, warehouses, storage depots, and dock terminals. State employment services, newspaper classified ads, and Internet job sites may provide employment leads.

Advancement Possibilities and Employment Outlook

Experienced industrial truck operators can become supervisors and managers.

Employment of industrial truck operators is expected to grow more slowly than other occupations through 2014. Improved technology and automation have eliminated the need for many positions. Although operators are employed nationwide, most work in large industrial cities in California, Illinois, Michigan, New York, Ohio, and Pennsylvania.

Working Conditions

Operators must be able to judge distances accurately so they do not drop large, heavy items, causing damage to the goods or injury to other workers. They must be strong and agile, because they sometimes must move materials by hand. The work can be dirty. Operators work both indoors and outside in all kinds of weather.

Most operators work forty hours per week, sometimes in rotating shifts. Overtime may be necessary. Many operators belong to unions.

Earnings and Benefits

In 2004 the median salary for all industrial truck operators was $12.78 per hour. Those who worked in large cities generally earned more.

Where to Go for More Information

International Brotherhood of Teamsters, AFL-CIO
25 Louisiana Ave.
NW Washington, DC 20001-2198
(202) 624-6800

Industrial Truck Association
1750 K St. NW, Ste. 460
Washington, DC 20006
(202) 296-9800

Benefits usually include paid vacations, sick leave, health and life insurance, and retirement plans.

Additional topics

Job Descriptions and Careers, Career and Job Opportunities, Career Search, and Career Choices and ProfilesTransportation & Logistics