How To Become A Forklift Driver In Australia: Explained

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Students want to know how to become forklift drivers or operators in Australia.


Do you like manual jobs and have good physical stamina and hand-eye coordination? Then a profession as a forklift driver might suit you.


Forklift drivers use heavy machines to lift objects in warehouses and other areas. While working, they ensure loads are secured and spread uniformly to prevent the chances of accidents in the workplace.


You usually need a forklift license from an accredited RTO in Australia to work in this high-risk profession. To obtain the licence, complete a training program in warehousing operations, such as a Certificate II or III in Supply Chain Operations, and pass a practical assessment.


This article discusses the job profile of a forklift driver and how you can pursue this profession in Australia. Learn about the necessary job qualifications, forklift driver training, average annual salary, job outlook, working conditions, and answers to frequently asked questions.



1. What Is A Forklift Driver?


Forklift drivers perform an essential job in hardware stores, warehouses, shipping terminals, storage facilities, and timber yards.


They are responsible for distributing, moving, and accounting for raw materials, merchandise, and equipment in industrial settings.


They are tasked to operate and drive forklifts to load, unload, and displace bales, containers, cartons, crates, bulk materials, and pallets of goods. They may also shift shipping vessels on the waterfront.



2. Forklift Driver Responsibilities


A typical work day of a forklift driver involves performing a range of activities that include:


  • Safely load raw materials and finished goods on transport vehicles.

  • Stack and unstack containers and trucks.

  • Transport goods to designated areas 

  • Evaluate the machinery

  • Perform general quality-assurance checks.

  • Track inventory and record issues such as missing or damaged products.

  • Maintain a clean and obstruction-free workspace or the forklift before commencing the work.

  • Maintain a log of daily operations.

  • Use the equipment safely and efficiently to prevent stock and equipment damage.

  • Operate forklifts that run on rails to regulate movements in thin aisles.

  • Operate controls to align forklifts and adjust the level of forks to load and unload items and move goods to process or dispatch areas.

  • Supervise equipment operation using computerized monitoring equipment, gauges, and instruments. 

  • Do servicing and perform minor repairs to lessen wear and tear to forklifts.

  • Store goods in the right places in a warehouse for easy identification when preparing orders.

  • Remove heavy loads from the shelves.

  • Report inventory-related issues to the mechanic or supervisor. 

  • Some forklift Drivers also perform clerical tasks.



3. Forklift Driver Skills For Resume


Being a forklift driver is a laborious job requiring a high awareness of occupational and public safety. Below are the essential skills to succeed in this role:



Technical Skills


  • Good understanding of the logistics of the facility you need to work in 

  • Knowledge of proper placement of objects in the right location

  • Familiarity with the operation of a forklift. Some employers may require applicants to provide proof of certification or showcase their skills to operate a forklift successfully.

  • Basic verbal reasoning and mathematical skills. 

  • Able to read, write and articulate effectively in English.



Soft Skills


  • Like doing practical and manual activities

  • Communication skills for smooth workflow and to ensure workplace safety.

  • Comfortable operating heavy machinery and driving

  • Safety-conscious and able to work as per the outlined safety standards

  • Good hearing and eyesight

  • Able to judge distances

  • Able to perform tasks independently

  • Physical strength to lift heavy loads and climb beneath and on top of railcars,

  • Able to remain alert, focused, and environmentally conscious at all times

  • Strong work ethic

  • Spatial awareness to pass through narrow aisles and stack the pallets in the correct places 

  • Able to stay composed during urgencies

  • Time management skills

  • Able to work to deadlines 

  • Able to carry out sending and receiving responsibilities on the loading dock. 

  • Able to perform routine troubleshooting and maintenance of the equipment malfunction.



4. Forklift Driver Qualifications


You can become a forklift driver through a traineeship in warehousing operations and obtain a High-Risk Work license (HRW).


Here are the steps to qualify for this role:


  • Though you can attend the training course at 16, you must be at least 18 when applying for a forklift licence. You must have 100 points of ID and may need to provide an ID listed in Evidence of Identity to verify your age.

  • You must be a resident of Australia.

  • You must complete Year 10 education.

  • You must have a unique student identifier number.

  • A formal qualification is optional. However, vocational qualification in warehousing operations, such as a Certificate III in Supply Chain Operations or a Certificate II in Supply Chain Operation through an RTO, is desirable.

  • Apply for a High-Risk Work Licence with the relevant state /territory-level Work, Health, and Safety licensing body. 

  • Additionally, you would need a manual driver's licence and a national police check.

  • Though previous work experience is optional, experience in working with heavy machinery like forklifts and serving customers in a call centre or retail store will improve your chances of landing a job.

  • Consider further studies, such as completing a Diploma of Logistics (TLI50415) for career advancement.



5. Steps To Become A Forklift Operator In Australia


To apply for a forklift licence, you first need to know about the different types of forklift licence you can apply for. Assess your requirement based on the two classes to find a suitable licence.



Forklift License or LF licence – Three days course


  • It is suited for anyone who has undergone training on a forklift truck, including counterbalance, high-reach forklifts, and reaches trucks.



Order Picker License or LO licence


  • 1-2 days course

  • It is suited for machine operators and drivers who move a load-shifting order-picking forklift or a narrow aisle forklift wherein the operator elevates while controlling the lifting mechanism.


Having decided on a suitable forklift licence for you, begin with the below steps to become a licenced forklift driver in Australia.



Step 1: Enrol In A Forklift Training Course With A RTO 


The training is divided into two parts. The first part comprises theoretical classes that focus on the following areas:


  • Types of forklifts, 

  • Basic controls and fundamentals,

  • The operation and maintenance of the forklift

  • Load handling and stabilization

  • Workplace health and safety measures

  • Risk identification and management

  • Plan Work

  • Perform Routine Checks

  • Transfer Load

  • Shut Down and Secure Forklift Truck


The second part includes practical lessons on lifting loads and inspecting and driving a forklift that gives you the confidence to drive actual heavy machinery like a forklift.


Australia Forklift Training offers an online training course that is convenient and more interesting than learning from a textbook. Studying at your own pace and time reduces the duration of course completion by half.



Step 2: Pass Your Forklift Truck Operator Assessment


After completing forklift training, the next step is to sit for an assessment conducted by your state-level authority that regulates workplace safety and forklift licences.


After training and a successful Assessment, you can apply for any of the two forklift licences, i.e., LF or LO. You need to get a forklift licence application from the assessor and submit it to the Australian Post Office with your photo, ID proof, and licence application fee.


After receiving the licence from the Australian Post, you become a certified forklift operator and can start applying for this role.



6. Forklift Driver Courses In Australia


Though a VET qualification in supply chain and management is sufficient to enter this role, completing a diploma in logistics or another related field can help advance your career prospects.


Here is a list of courses to pursue a career in transport and logistics, supply chain and operational management, and risk management. You will learn to drive heavy vehicles, safely transport your cargo, materials, and passengers between destinations, communicate between vehicles, and manage fatigue.


The practical skills you learn from this course qualify you for varied roles in the supply chain, inventory procurement, and warehousing management. Some of these include a Forklift driver, tip truck driver, local heavy general freight driver, or bus driver.




7. Where Do Forklift Drivers Work?


Forklift drivers are employed in the following places such as:


  • Warehouses

  • Factories 

  • Timber yards 

  • Shipping terminals

  • Construction sites


8. Working Conditions For A Forklift Driver


Forklift drivers carry out activities in both outdoor and indoor settings. Those aspiring to pursue this job should know they operate heavy equipment in high-risk areas.


In indoor settings like a warehouse, you work in a well-illuminated environment with break rooms, washrooms, and offices with proper cooling and heat facilities.


However, working indoors can be a little hazardous as some warehouses have less driving space, and hindrances such as floor spills and narrow aisles may restrict your movement.


On the other hand, working outdoors may be more laborious but allows you to relish working in the fresh air, especially when the weather is nice. You spend most of the time lifting pallets and stacking and unstacking the truck when it reaches.


Jobs hours vary widely, and forklift drivers generally work day, afternoon, or evening shifts. Some warehouses remain closed on major holidays like New Year's Eve, Thanksgiving, and Christmas; others may expect you to work on those days. You may expect to work overtime on weekends and in early morning and late-night shifts throughout the year.


Furthermore, the job may require driving to distinct locations and some level of communication with people.



9. What Tools Do Forklift Drivers Use?


As a forklift driver, you may use a range of differently-sized tools to execute your job. Some of these include:


  • Small-sized battery-driven walk-behind forklifts

  • Large machines to displace a fully loaded shipping container

  • Machines with special attachments and safety cages to lift people

  • Electronic equipment, including radios for communication and logging the stock movements in storage facilities.


To meet the minimum occupational health and safety requirements at the workplace, forklift drivers have to wear the following mandatorily:


  • Safety glasses

  • Leather gloves

  • Protective footwear with non-slip soles and safety toe cap

  • Hair protection

  • Industry-standard clothing that includes pants and long-sleeved shirts.



10. Employment Opportunities For A Forklift Driver


You can find forklift driver jobs in warehouses and storage facilities in various primary industries.


  • Manufacturing

  • Retail  

  • Construction 

  • Wholesale 

  • Freight forwarding 

  • General storage

  • Food services 


Some are even employed in state, federal, and territory government departments in the following roles:


  • Forklift Operator

  • Forklift Driver

  • Storeman 



11. What Are The Career Pathways For A Forklift Driver/Operator?


Graduates from an entry-level VET qualification in driving operations, and supply chain operations and management can go onto the following roles:


  • Local Heavy General Freight Driver

  • Line Haul Driver

  • Pickup and Delivery Driver 

  • Depot yard person

  • Bus Driver

  • Despatch clerk 

  • Inventory clerk 

  • Loader 

  • Store person

  • Transport clerk 

  • Pick packer 

  • Receiving clerk 

  • Warehouse operator

  • Logistics operator

  • Customer-service clerk

  • Supply chain admin officer



12. What Is The Job Outlook For Forklift Drivers In Australia?


Forklift operators/drivers are inevitable in the smooth execution and survival of storage facilities, warehouses, or big box stores.


As manufacturing, construction, distribution, and processing industries are the rapidly growing sectors in Australia's economy, the profession projects a steady demand for qualified personnel to deal with appliances and building materials and move heavy loads to the right place.


The higher your exposure to different types of forklifts, the more in demand you are. Whether or not you hold experience, numerous employers are looking to hire forklift drivers with the necessary licenses to operate the equipment.


According to Labour Market Insights, future growth will likely remain stable in this profession. The government projects that the number of workers to increase from 67,000 in 2021 to 68,300 in 2026.


Thus, the vast market and abundant job opportunities translate to a stable and secure future for licenced forklift drivers now and in several years.



13. How Much Do Forklift Drivers Get Paid In Australia?


According to Pay Scale, Australia's average base forklift driver salary is AU$51,988 annually. The two significant factors determining their earnings are their work experience, geographical location, and employment industry. 


Annual Average Salary based on experience:


  • Entry-level forklift drivers (below one year of experience): AU$24.99 

  • Early career forklift drivers (1-4 years of experience): AU$25.17 

  • Mid-career forklift drivers (5-9 years of experience): AU$25.26 

  • Experienced forklift drivers (10-19 years of experience): AU$25.09 

  • Forklift drivers with 20 years and more work experience: AU$26


According to Indeed, the highest-paying cities for forklift operators in Australia are:


  • Melbourne: $33.16 per hour

  • Sydney: $32.47 per hour

  • Blacktown: $32.41 per hour

  • Wetherill Park: $32.01 per hour

  • Perth: $31.90 per hour

  • Brisbane: $31.90 per hour

  • Derrimut: $31.73 per hour



14. Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)



How Much Does It Cost To Complete a Forklift Operation Course?


The cost of taking a forklift operation course depends on two factors:


  • The training provider you choose

  • Your skill level 


Candidates with experience in forklift operation can gain a licence after completing a 1-day course costing around $400 to $450 per participant.


However, beginners must complete a longer course that costs around $500 to $550 per participant. It is a rough estimate; the course fee depends on your chosen provider.



How To Get Forklift Certification For Free?


Edapp, a famous training institute, offers 15 free forklift training courses you can access using online software providers. You can access the list of forklift training courses offered here.



How Much Does a Forklift Licence Cost in Australia?


To become a certified forklift driver, you need to apply for a forklift driver's licence at the licence-issuing authority after completing the training.


The fee to apply for a forklift licence varies between $67 to $100, depending on the state/territory where you wish to work.


The governing authorities in different Australian territories enforce workplace health and safety and regulate licensing requirements.


  • WorkSafe Victoria

  • SafeWork New South Wales

  • Access Canberra – (ACT Government)

  • WorkCover Queensland

  • WorkSafe Western Australia

  • SafeWork South Australia

  • NT WorkSafe

  • WorkSafe Tasmania


Interested applicants should refer to the workplace safety authority of your state to learn about the exact forklift licence cost. The average price to obtain a high-risk work licence in major cities of Australia are:


  • New South Wales - $77 per application

  • Queensland - $100 per application

  • Victoria - $67 per application



Does a Forklift Driver's Licence Expire?


Yes. You need to renew your high-risk work licence, like a forklift licence, once every five years. The issuing government authority will notify all licence holders to remind them about the renewal.



Can You Transfer Your Forklift Licence Anywhere in Australia?


Yes. As long as your HRW licence is valid and not expired, it is recognizable in any territory of Australia. If you are moving to another work location, contact the licence-issuing authority in the state/ territory where you wish to get transferred and perform separate processing to transfer your licence.



How To Get a Forklift Licence in Tasmania?


You have to get licensed before you can work as a forklift driver in Tasmania. To apply for a high-risk work licence, you must submit the below documents at a Service Tasmania outlet:


  • Complete the required competency units for the category of high-risk work you need a licence for. Ensure you undergo training at a registered training organization. 

  • A completed application form to carry out High-Risk work 

  • Your existing Assessment and Interim Summary Assessment that the accredited assessor issues when he finds you competent.

  • A photograph

  • licensing fee 


Service Tasmania will assess the documentation and pass it to WorkSafe for processing. Contact WorkSafe if you are still waiting to receive your license within 60 days from the date of applying with Service Tas.



How To Get A Forklift Licence in Victoria (Vic)?


If you need a high-risk work licence, complete training through an RTO and pass the Assessment. To register for training, you must provide your photo identification with the RTO at registration.


You will get an Assessment Number through email or a written notice of Assessment after passing the training assessment.


Next, lodge your forklift or high-risk work licence application with the assessment results within sixty days of receiving the assessment number. Failing to do so will require you to retake the Assessment at your expense.


You have two ways to submit your completed application form:


  • myWorkSafe account is a fastest and easiest way to lodge the application

  • If you can't complete the online proof of identity, you can submit your application in person at Australia Post.



Online Application for a High-Risk Work Licence:


Create your My WorkSafe account. Duly fill and submit the licence application along with the below documents.


  • Your assessment number 

  • ID proof document – Australian birth certificate, a valid and existing Australian passport, Australian citizenship certificate, Immicard or overseas passport with an Australian visa 

  • A current Medicare card or Australian driver's licence

  • License application Fee


When applying online, you get an instant payment receipt after submitting your licence application. If approved, you get instant access to your digital licence straight on my WorkSafe. Also, you will get a physical copy of the license via post within 20 to 25 business days.



Offline Application For a High-Risk Work Licence Through Australia Post:


Locate a nearby Australia Post and visit the centre with the following documents:


  • A printed copy of your Notice of Assessment, 

  • An identity proof, 

  • A recent passport photo (not old than the last six months) 

  • Cash or credit/debit card for payment.


Next, complete and lodge an L2 high-risk work licence application form at the centre. On approval of your licence application, you will get a plastic card licence in the mail. Link the licence number on the card to your online WorkSafe account to access the e-licence.


Processing your high-risk work license application takes up to 45 business days. Online applicants can track their license's progress via their WorkSafe account.



How To Get a Forklift Licence in the Northern Territory (NT)?


Like other states, the NT government mandates workers to hold a valid high-risk (HRW) work to work as a forklift driver in the state. The NT WorkSafe is the regulatory body that issues two classes of HRW licence for forklifts:


  • Forklift truck

  • Order-picking forklift truck


Forklift driver aspirants must undergo training to gain the skills and knowledge to perform high-risk work safely in the workplace.


After a successful assessment, they must apply for a high-risk work licence by downloading and filing the HRW application form.


You will need to support your application with the required ID proof documents, a notice of Assessment (that shows you have received appropriate training), a recent passport-size photograph, and a fee.


Processing your application and receiving the licence may take 3-4 weeks.



How To Get a Forklift Licence in Western Australia (WA)?


Forklift driver aspirants must complete 12 and 24 months of vocational qualification in warehousing operations to obtain a High-Risk Work licence from WorkSafe Western Australia.


Completing Certificate II and III in Warehousing Operations at TAFE colleges and other RTO throughout Western Australia and gaining a forklift license qualifies you to operate a Forklift Truck anywhere in the country.



What Are The Forklift Driver Pay Rates in Australia?


The pay rates for forklift drivers usually start from $27 an hour. If you work full-time and in an area with a high cost of living, you have higher chances to earn a full yearly salary with bonuses.


Besides enjoying a positive outlook and a decent pay package, the profession also offers plenty of opportunities for advancement. With experience, you can make about $32 an hour or more. As working overtime is expected in the profession, you also get compensated for benefits and opportunities.



What Is The Highest-Paying Forklift Job in Australia?


The pay for forklift jobs varies based on various factors, such as:


  • The kind of forklift 

  • The industry

  • The employer/specific company you work for 

  • The area of work 

  • The required level of experience or specialized skills


The following forklift jobs pay more than average:


  • Crane and Hoist Operator: Average hourly rate is AUD 34.71.

  • High-Reach Forklift Operator: Average hourly rate is AUD 32.11.

  • Heavy Equipment Operator: Average hourly rate is AUD 27.8

  • Container/Material Handler Operator: Average hourly rate is AUD 26.34.



15. Conclusion


The rise in global trade and growth of construction industries has contributed to a high demand and job scope for Forklift drivers in Australia. The best part of this profession is that you need no prior work experience to enter the workforce.


With your aptitude and persistence, you can branch out into other areas of business operations, such as warehousing, logistics, and shipping.


So, if you can operate machinery, drive, and adhere to company regulations, a forklift licence is all you need to kickstart your career.


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