Millwrights typically go through a formal apprenticeship program that lasts about 4 years. Programs are usually a combination of technical instruction and on-the-job training. Others learn their trade through a 2-year associate’s degree program in industrial maintenance. A high school diploma or equivalent is the typical education needed to become a millwright.
Most millwrights learn their trade through a 3- or 4-year apprenticeship. For each year of the program, apprentices must have at least 144 hours of related technical instruction and 2,000 hours of paid on-the-job training. On the job, apprentices learn to set up, clean, lubricate, repair, and start machinery. During technical instruction, they are taught mathematics, how to read blueprints, welding, electronics, and pneumatics (using air pressure). Many also receive computer training.
After completing an apprenticeship program, millwrights are considered fully qualified and can usually perform tasks with less guidance.
Apprenticeship programs are often sponsored by employers, local unions, contractor associations, and the state labor department. The basic qualifications for entering an apprenticeship program are as follows:
Millwrights typically receive on-the-job training lasting a few months to 1 year. During training, they perform routine tasks such as setting up, cleaning, lubricating, and starting machinery. This training may be offered by experienced workers, professional trainers, or representatives of equipment manufacturers.
A high school diploma is the typical education needed to become a millwright. However, several 2-year associate’s degree programs in industrial maintenance also provide good preparation for prospective millwrights. Some employers offer onsite classroom training or send workers to local technical schools while they get on-the-job training. Classroom instruction focuses on subjects such as shop mathematics, how to read blueprints, welding, electronics, and computer training.
Mechanical aptitude. Millwrights must be able to use a variety of tools, such as blowtorches and hydraulic torque wrenches, to assemble and take apart machines on a factory floor.
Physical strength. Millwrights must be strong enough to lift or move tools, heavy parts, and equipment.
Technical skills. Millwrights must be able to understand technical manuals for a wide range of machinery in order to disassemble and assemble them correctly.
Troubleshooting skills. Millwrights must be able to diagnose and solve problems. For example, if a moving part is not perfectly aligned, millwrights must find and repair the problem.
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2012-13 Edition