How To Become A Millwright

Becoming a millwright means joining one of the most respected trades in the US. If you love working with tools, machines, and precision instruments, and if you have a keen eye for producing flawless work, then you can get in on a career that can last a lifetime.
Career Overview*
  • Median Salary:$57,260 annually / $27.52 hourly
  • Career Outlook:10% growth through 2030
  • Certifications: None
  • Education/Training Duration: None

What Is A Millwright?

A millwright is a professional who works on machinery in a wide range of settings, such as construction sites, factories, processing plants, machine shops, and manufacturing companies.

They are also sometimes also called Industrial Mechanics.

Their main role involves installing, repairing, and maintaining mechanical equipment and industrial machinery. A few other common millwright duties and responsibilities include:

  • Measuring and marking out construction materials
  • Keeping records of operations, safety, and maintenance procedures
  • Examining, unloading, and moving machinery into position once it arrives at the project site
  • Interpreting diagrams, drawings, specifications, and plans in order to determine suitable materials and an appropriate sequence of operations
  • Determining the necessary tools – like pulleys, cables, and hoisting devices – required to move and install equipment safely
  • Preparing the foundation for a new machine or overseeing its construction
  • Assembling fabricated parts to produce tools and machines
  • Following safety protocols

Millwrights are considered part of what is called basic industries. Find out if basic industries are a good career path and other career opportunities that fall under this category.

How To Become A Millwright

Many skills matter when it comes to working as a millwright. You need some strength and coordination, but equally important are your thinking and communication skills. That’s why, in order to become a millwright, you need a high school degree or its equivalent. 

We can help you find an employer with whom you can register as an apprentice, and work toward becoming an independent, full-fledged millwright. 

The short version on how to become a millwright or industrial mechanic is:

  1. Required to have a high school diploma or GED
  2. Two year degree or trade school education in industrial maintenance (optional)
  3. Three or four year apprenticeship with a combination of instruction and on-the-job training is the more typical path

Below is a more comprehensive breakdown of how to become a millwright.

how to become a millwright

Basic Requirements

Due to the physically demanding nature of the job, all future millwrights should be able-bodied and capable of performing regular manual labor. You must also possess basic reading and math skills, which you can supplement, if necessary, with general education courses. Note that due to the  potentially hazardous nature of the work involved, the minimum employment age for millwrights is 18. 

Education

Most employers only require job candidates to hold a high school diploma or its equivalent. However, possessing a two-year technical degree or certificate in any related discipline can give you an advantage.

Relevant education certifications include industrial maintenance, machine tool technology, and mechanical engineering. These types of programs will typically offer practical and classroom instruction in mathematics, mechanical design, machine tool applications, and mechanical fabrication. 

Internship/Apprenticeship

The first step toward becoming a millwright is to complete an apprenticeship program. This usually takes three to four years, and can be school-based or contracted through an employer.

Apprentice millwrights learn to set up, clean, lubricate, repair, maintain, and properly operate machinery. Youwill also learn other skills such as welding, pneumatics, and working with electronics, and you will likely receive computer and drafting training, as well 

The training is usually free, and is generally paid so you can learn a trade and gain work experience while earning an income. 

Testing/Certification

There are generally no licensing, certification, or testing requirements for millwrights. After completing your apprenticeship program, employers consider you fully qualified, and will let you work independently.

However, you can boost your credentials by earning a certificate in a specific sub-field. Many millwrights complete additional coursework and earn related certificates from training programs, technical schools, and other institutions in order to increase their chances of promotion. 

Recommended Skills For Millwrights

In addition to apprenticeship certification, you can improve your chances of employment and growth by cultivating skills such as:

Problem Solving

A millwright’s job involves solving a client’s problems. You need a keen eye to make mechanical devices work better and more efficiently.

Strength + Endurance

Millwrights do plenty of lifting, pushing, pulling, and bending, so strength and stamina are a must. 

Time Management

While it’s critical for a millwright to pay attention to every detail, it’s also important to utilize time intelligently.

Collaboration

Millwrights collaborate with a team of managers, engineers, carpenters, and joiners on jobs both large and small, so you must be open to cross-disciplinary cooperation.

Pros & Cons Of Being A Millwright

PROS

  • Your company will pay for every tool, piece of equipment, and the all gear you need for any job
  • Work is steady, particularly in high industrial locations
  • It can be an  excellent entry point into related fields or managerial positions
  • It’s great if you like physical, hands-on work that involves collaborating with other professionals
  • There are minimal education requirements, with most employers accepting high school graduates as apprentices

CONS

  • Injuries and exposure to hazardous substances are possible
  • Employers under a tight budget might give you only “on-call” work 
  • You might have to work weekends and holidays, depending on the scale of the project
  • Some work may be outdoors in rough weather

How Much Do Millwrights Make?

According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median annual pay for millwrights in 2020 was $57,260.

While initial salaries  start in the $30,000 range, you can expect  consistent raises as you gain more experience in the field.

Higher-paid millwrights, particularly those who travel or join a union, can earn $70,000 or more per year.

number icon
$57,260
is the median annual salary for a millwright.

Millwright Job Outlook

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10%
increase in the amount of jobs through 2030.

Growth/Decline Percentage: 10% increase from 2020 to 2030*
General Outlook: Good

Despite the rise and increasing sophistication of automation and other labor-saving technologies, the use of non-skilled laborers in the handling of machinery, and the pandemic-limited growth in industrial construction, millwrights fare better than other, similar trades. The BLS predicts that millwright positions will increase 10% from 2020 to 2030. 

The leading employers of millwrights include building contractors, wood product manufacturers, and paper mills. Many new openings are due to experienced workers retiring or transferring to other positions. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Below are some of the most commonly asked questions about this career. If you have other questions that are not listed here – please email us or leave a comment below and we will be sure to add it!

What qualifications do i need to be a millwright?

A potential millwright needs strong communication skills, good numerical and analytics skills as well as be strong and have the stamina to do the work.

Is a millwright the same thing as an industrial mechanic?

Yes, often these terms are used interchangeably.

Is a Job as a Millwright or Industrial mechanic hard?

Yes. This career path is not for those that are looking for an “easy” path. The work is complex, hours can be long, and it is very physically demanding.

*Data source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

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