The industrial world is full of machinery. There are machines on assembly lines, pump stations, print shops, oil refineries, textile manufacturers, nuclear power plants, steel mills, airports, pulp mills, construction sites, and other plants and factories. Without machines these facilities wouldn’t be able to operate effectively and efficiently. As we all know, machines need constant attention to ensure they are in proper working order. That’s where millwrights come into play.
Millwrights plan, build, repair, transport, and maintain mills and machinery in industrial settings. They may assemble, disassemble, diagnose, or fix machinery. Originally, millwrights were glorified carpenters who worked on watermills, windmills, flour mills, and sawmills. Their job has evolved over time to keep up with technology and new machines. Now they work with metals, machines, and computers to ensure that plants and factories can operate at full capacity. Millwrights work on machines like conveyors, generators, water pumps, escalators, turbines, and other industrial machines. It’s a labor intensive job with a technological twist.
Fixing defecting bolts, lubricating machinery, adjusting bolts, troubleshooting computer problems, or dismantling machines is all in a day’s work for a millwright. Millwrights use hoists, lifts, and power tools to get the job done. They have access to tools and instruction manuals to each and every machine. They need to be able to read blueprints, understand machines and technology, and make tiny adjustments that have huge results.
Millwrights are elite construction workers working with precision equipment. They often deal with tolerances of 1/1000 of an inch. An in-depth understanding of each machine, an attention to detail, and the ability to make micro-adjustments are mandatory to be successful as a millwright. Working on a single machine can often take an entire day, or even a whole week.
As you can imagine, anytime you work with large machines, safety is always the primary focus. Hard hats, safety glasses, and earplugs are standard work attire for millwrights. Millwrights often find themselves in odd positions working to complete a job. It’s not always glamorous to tweak machinery for eight hours a day, but it is a job that is necessary for the economy to function. Factories and plants constantly update their equipment. That means there are always job opportunities for millwrights.
To become a millwright, you must have a high school diploma or GED. Then you must complete a multi-year apprenticeship. A millwright apprenticeship usually lasts three to four years and is sponsored by a union, employer, or state labor department. According the Bureau of Labor Statistics page for Millwrights, an apprenticeship must consist of “144 hours of related technical instruction and 2,000 hours of paid on-the-job training.”
After completing an approved apprenticeships, millwrights are capable of working on their own. Most millwrights are associated with unions. They work contract based jobs and almost always manage to stay busy. According to the BLS, there are currently 36,680 millwrights working in the US. Those millwrights make an average salary of $24.58 per hour or $51,130 per year.
Machines are an integral part of our industrial economy. Millwrights are the heroes that keep those machines up and running at full capacity. Do you have a knack for installing, maintaining, and troubleshooting things? Do you like working with your hands, problem solving, and assembling complex machines? Maybe pursuing a career as a millwright is the ideal career path for you.
Quick Facts About Millwright Jobs
Job Title: Millwright
Office: Industrial plants and factories, Construction sites
Description: Plan, build, repair, transport, and maintain machinery in industrial settings
Certifications/Education: High school diploma, Multi-year apprenticeship
Necessary Skills: Problem solving, attention to detail, physically able to work in odd positions
Potential Employers: Contract work from unions, construction contractors, factories, plants
Pay: $24.58 per hour or $51,130 per year