California Occupational Guides

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         What Would I Do?
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Summary Guide for

Industrial Truck and Tractor Operators in California

May also be called: Forklift Drivers: Lift Truck Operators

What Would I Do?

Industrial Truck and Tractor Operators use machinery to move construction materials, manufactured goods, earth, petroleum products, and other heavy materials. Generally, they move materials over short distances; around construction sites, factories, or warehouses. Some move materials onto or off of trucks and ships.

Industrial Truck and Tractor Operators generally work in a warehouse or storage setting. Their daily activities can keep them inside of a large building, or outside in a storage setting or construction site.

The work can be strenuous, with workers moving material all day, sometimes manually loading and unloading pallets and trucks, and moving stock from one location to another. When big loads come in, there may be stress involved in getting material unloaded.

Weather can be a factor, too. Warehouses are frequently not heated or cooled, and temperatures can be unpleasant in the hot summer months, or freezing cold during the winter. Outside, they are subject to rain, fog, heat and other weather extremes.

These workers generally work eight-hour shifts, five days a week, although these may include day, swing and night shifts. Sometimes workload requires Operators to work longer days and on holidays or weekends. Some workers, may not work when the weather is bad.

Will This Job Fit Me?

The job of Industrial Truck and Tractor Operators may appeal to those enjoy activities that include practical, hands-on problems and solutions. It may appeal to those who enjoy working independently with tools and machinery.

Industrial Truck and Tractor Operators do some of their work alone, dealing with materials such as dry goods, construction materials, and machinery. Experienced workers may not often work closely with others, and there is a minimum of paperwork required. Some communication, though, is necessary with supervisors and other workers at times.

What Wages and Benefits Can I Expect?

The median wage in 2016 for Industrial Truck and Tractor Operators in California is $35,533 annually, or $17.08 hourly. The median is the point at which half of the workers earn more and half earn less.

Change to Hourly Wages
Annual Wages for 2016Low
(25th percentile)
(50th percentile)
(75th percentile)
Source: EDD/LMID Occupational Employment Statistics Survey, 2016 Wages do not reflect self-employment.
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Employers sometimes provide medical insurance, sick leave, holiday, and vacation pay. A retirement plan may be offered by the largest employers.

What is the Job Outlook?

Because the occupation has so many workers, most job openings will occur to fill positions left vacant as other workers leave for other jobs.

How Do I Qualify?

Most Industrial Truck and Tractor Operators gain job skills by working on the job, under close supervision of a crew leader, supervisor, or skilled coworker. Most employers prefer applicants to have experience in the field, but may offer training to otherwise qualified individuals.

Finding a Job

The best way to find a job in this occupation is by applying directly to the employer. If the job is covered by a union contract, application to the appropriate union hall may be necessary. Classified ads and the Internet may provide additional hiring opportunities. Online job opening systems include JobCentral at and CalJOBSSM at

To find your nearest One-Stop Career Center, go to Service Locator. View the helpful job search tips for more resources. (requires Adobe Reader).

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