Warehouses are often synonymous with tall shelves, millions of stacked products, and forklifts wheeling around to pick these orders. One vehicle that can be found in many warehouses is the cherry picker. This article will be the only guide you need when it comes to learning about these machines, how to find a job driving them, and the day-to-day work you can expect from being a cherry picker operator.
What is a cherry picker?
The more official title for a cherry picker is “MEWP” or Mobile Elevated Working Platforms, which perfectly describe what they do. These machines often have a platform or bucket that is lifted into the air by hydraulics. Workers standing on this lift can then do the work they need to great heights. There are several different styles of these lifts, including scissor lifts, boom lifts, and vertical mast lifts, each with varying heights, and some can go higher than 100 feet!
Overall though, when you hear about a “cherry picker,” you can typically expect a lift designed to not only hold a person but a pallet as well. This allows the driver to “pick” products from shelving and carry it along with them as they grab other items. Cherry picker operators can navigate the vast shelving often found in warehouses and easily place or pull products despite the height.
What is a cherry picker’s salary?
If you are interested in driving a cherry picker, now is the time to start! Unemployment is low, which means companies are in great need of workers to help keep business running smoothly.
The national average for cherry picker pay right now is right at $14.00 an hour or about $29,000 a year. This pay rate is the average, though, and depending on your experience and location, you could be making a whole lot more. For example, a cherry picker wage in Colorado is $15.98 an hour on average. That nearly $2.00 bump comes out to an annual salary right around $33,000. You can also make more money if you have more time under your belt.
Don’t just look at the dollar signs when it comes to considering fair compensation though. What some companies lack in hourly pay, they make up for in great medical benefits. Other companies may offer lots of sick time and vacation while still others take care of you on the back end with a stellar 401(k). Just be sure to take these other benefits into consideration when evaluating the salary with any job.
What is a cherry picker’s job description?
As we discussed earlier, cherry-picking jobs often entail a driver “picking” products from shelving throughout a warehouse environment. So, a job description for one of these jobs would be something similar to this:
The Cherry Picker is responsible for the efficient and safe operation of a motorized lift vehicle to pull products based on customer orders. The operator must be certified to operate, set-up, and maintain the lift. Daily responsibilities include pulling orders, restocking materials, staging products, preparing orders for shipment and other duties as assigned. The operator must follow all company safety policies, including the daily wear of steel-toed boots, hard hat, and fall safety harness.
What does a Cherry Picker do every day?
As we discussed earlier, a cherry picker is primarily responsible for pulling orders throughout the warehouse with the help of a hydraulic lift. “Pulling orders” makes the job sound simple. In reality, cherry pickers have to make sure the quality and quantity of their orders, maintain their safety on the lift, watch for other workers around them and do all this as quickly as possible. Not so easy after all.
Many times, pickers are also responsible for maintaining the lift they use, such as making sure it is clean and in working order. Some may even troubleshoot mechanical issues if the lift breaks down. Finally, pickers often have to assist in other areas of the warehouse, such as shipping and receiving, material handling and quality assurance. They wear many hats that keep the warehouse running in tip-top shape.
What shift do cherry pickers work?
Given the many industries MEWP operators can work in, there isn’t any particular shift they work exclusively. Cherry pickers, especially, can work any shift since they can often be found in warehouses or factories that work around the clock. Depending on what is being built or housed, they may need pickers more during the day, but if it’s a busy season or the team is short, a picker could find themselves working the graveyard shift.
Different shift options can be great news, though, since many jobs don’t offer so many shift opportunities. If you enjoy working the nightshift or making more money, then this is an excellent opportunity for you. That’s right; we said more money. Night shift positions often have what’s called a “shift differential,” which is extra money for those willing to work shifts fewer people want. You may also find there is an opportunity to make that additional money if you are willing to work holidays and weekends too.
Where can I get a job as a Cherry Picker?
If you are ready to begin your search for a cherry-picking job, you may be wondering where to start your search. The first step should be determining what environment or industry you would like to work in. Cherry pickers and MEWP vehicles can be found in numerous sectors, which means you have some decisions to make when it comes to:
- Working indoors or outdoors
- Customer-facing or behind the scenes
- Day shift or night shift
Once you nail down the details of which of these options you are most comfortable with, you can then continue your job hunt. You should also decide if you wish to do additional jobs outside of being a cherry picker driver. Some industries, such as construction, may need a crew member who can drive a lift and build a roof.
Some common industries you will see MEWP drivers needed in are:
- Building Maintenance
- Safety Inspection and Implementation
- Tree Trimming and Care
- Power Line Repair
- Special Event Set-up/Tear-down
For cherry picker forklift jobs most specifically, you will likely see jobs in industries such as:
- Retail (Home Depot or Sam’s Club)
How do I get a job as a cherry picker?
Finding a cherry picker job isn’t hard at all if you know where to look. The most obvious starting point is the internet since it will give you immediate results. You can Google something as simple as “ cherry picker jobs near me,” or you can get more specific like “cherry picker in warehouse job” if you know exactly where you want to work.
If you aren’t having much luck with an internet search or you just want to beef up your efforts, you can check out your local staffing agency. A staffing agency can help be your eyes and ears for local jobs that fit your desires and skills. This option is especially helpful if you have little or no experience in the cherry picker field. A staffing company will be able to look for jobs that are entry-level friendly or willing to provide training.
Be sure that no matter which route you pick for your search to have your resume updated and ready to go. Looking good on paper isn’t the only thing you will want looking good. Take some time to get a haircut or pick out an interview outfit. When the final interview comes along, you will want to impress your new employer by looking fresh, clean, and ready to go to work.
Can I get a cherry picker job with no experience?
You sure can! It may not be quite as easy as landing the job with years of experience under your belt, but it’s not impossible, especially in today’s economy. Unemployment is low, 3.5% actually, which means companies are in desperate need of employees. That means it is the opportune time to jump into a career even if you have no prior history in that industry. In many cases, including cherry picker positions, companies are willing to train and certify you while you work. They now have a qualified candidate, and you get a job, win-win!
If you lack the experience needed to land a cherry picker job, be sure to emphasize on your resume and during your interview your desire to learn and a strong work ethic. Let employers know that while you may not have the technical skills, you have the heart to work hard and the mind to learn quickly.
Do I need training to become a cherry picker?
Only trained and authorized operators are allowed to drive Cherry Picker lifts, according to OSHA. So in one sense, yes, you need the training to be a cherry picker. On the other hand, you don’t necessarily need to be certified before you get the job. Many companies, especially given the low unemployment rate right now, are willing to hire and then train and certify you in-house. It’s a win-win since they get a hardworking employee, and you are certified on their dime.
If you work for a company that doesn’t offer training, or if you just want to get a leg up on the competition, you can obtain your certification independently. Training and certification can be acquired online or in-person. There are many schools out there these days that offer training online, in a virtual reality space, and even hands-on in the classroom, which means you can find a program that fits your learning style best.
You are probably wondering if these programs will also fit your budget. Most programs are under $100 and only take a few hours to complete, but if you have a little wiggle room in the budget, you can spend more for a combo class that includes other types of powered vehicles such as forklifts. This extra training isn’t necessary to land a job but definitely can expand your options of what you qualify to apply.
You may also want to seek out additional training that can help you stand out as the candidate of choice. These other pieces of training and certifications can include first aid, proper safety and emergency protocols, material handling, and appropriate PPE wear. Again, these are not necessary to get a job but definitely will boost your desirability on paper and make you a well rounded cherry picker.