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Lifting equipment operator

IPAF operative

Lifting equipment operators use machinery such as cherry pickers, forklift trucks, scissor lifts, suspension equipment, telehandlers, and suspension equipment to lift and hoist heavy loads.

Average salary*




How to become a lifting equipment operator?

You can complete a training course at a CPCS accredited test centre, or an apprenticeship to become a lifting equipment operator. You will also need an industry standard qualification to operate lifting equipment, gained from the  International Powered Access Federation (IPAF).  

Although this role does require certain qualifications, many employers are also interested in people who are enthusiastic, willing to learn and can follow instructions.  

To work on a construction site as a lifting equipment operator you will need a valid Construction Plant Competence Scheme (CPCS) card.

College/training provider 

To become a lifting equipment operator, you will require an industry-standard qualification from a specialist training provider. The International Powered Access Federation (IPAF)  is responsible for training new lifting equipment operators, as well as setting standards and providing health and safety information. You will need to keep your training up to date throughout your career.  


You could complete an intermediate apprenticeship as a plant operator or an NVQ/SVQ Level 2 in Plant Operations, to help you become a lifting equipment operator. An intermediate apprenticeship takes around two years to complete. 

You may need GCSEs (including English and maths) or equivalent, to do an apprenticeship, but not all employers ask for formal qualifications. 

Apprenticeships are open to anyone over the age of 16. As an apprentice, you’ll be fully employed by your company and expected to work a minimum of 30 hours a week. Your time will be split between on-the-job experience and a college or training provider. 


If you have some basic experience as a plant operator, you could apply directly to a company which uses of lifting equipment to gain experience as a lifting equipment operator. You might start out as an assistant to an experienced lifting equipment operator and progress as your abilities improve. 

Work experience 

Work experience is essential to gaining employment within the construction industry. You could gain this at school, or by working weekends and holidays with a company or relative who works as a lifting equipment operator. Potential employers will always be pleased to see work experience listed on your CV. 


Additional skills which may benefit anyone considering a job as a lifting equipment operator include:  

  • Good attention to detail 
  • Knowledge of lifting equipment 
  • Able to use, repair and maintain machines and tools 
  • Able to work well with your hands 
  • Able to work well with others 
  • Ability to spot problems and provide solutions. 

What does a lifting equipment operator do?

As a lifting equipment operator, you will be responsible for operating manual and power operated lifting and platform equipment.  

The job role of a lifting equipment operator involves the following duties:  

  • Working with a variety of manual and power operated lifting equipment such as forklift trucks, cherry pickers, telehandlers, scissor lifts, rope swings, or mobile cranes 
  • Carrying out routine mechanical and health and safety checks on lifting equipment 
  • Assisting with repairs and servicing of lifting equipment where required 
  • Adhering to regulations surrounding health and safety 
  • Working at a client’s home or business, on a construction site or in a warehouse. 

How much could you earn as a lifting equipment operator?

The expected salary for a lifting equipment operator varies as you become more experienced. 

  • Newly trained lifting equipment operators can earn £15,000 
  • Experienced lifting equipment operators can earn £40,000 or more* 
  • Self-employed lifting equipment inspectors set their own pay rates. 

Hours and salary depend on location, employer and any overtime you may do. 

* Salaries have been collected from multiple industry sources


Check out the latest lifting equipment operator vacancies:  

As these are external websites, the number of vacancies related to your preferred role may vary. New opportunities will be posted as they come up. 

Career path and progression

As a lifting equipment operator you could move into plant or crane operation, or become a lifting equipment inspector. 

You may choose to move into a related role, such as a SHEQ (safety, health, environment and quality) adviser, as your skills and experience improve. 

Alternatively, you could become self-employed. 

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