Do you love working with machines, tools, and precision instruments? Do you possess a keen eye for producing impeccable work? Then you must get in on a career that will last a lifetime. We are talking about the career of a millwright or industrial mechanic, one of the most respected trades in Canada and the United States.
The highly skilled career path of a tradesman-ship began with the construction of wood mills in the ancient days. The modern millwright or journeyman millwright profession includes construction and maintenance of metal and precision machinery tools, factories based on machine tools, etc.
You will find tradespeople in hydroelectric plants, nuclear power plants, food processing factories, and anywhere else where the business needs to handle power supplies, conveyor systems, piping, machinery repairing, and so on.
Join us today in this journey to understand the career path of a millwright and how to become one. This career segment is full of opportunities; you can grab them without investing so much money and time in full-time engineering courses.
What Is the Career of Millwright?
An industrial mechanic installs, assembles, moves, and dismantles machinery of almost all types. These machinery could range from turbine generators to conveyor systems and everything in between.
Maintenance, setting up, and repairing fine and non-fine machine tools is a highly complex job. The job role is also mission-critical since the production facility’s output will depend on the millwrights should there be any system failure.
Therefore, these complex projects easily take days, weeks, and months to complete. Since industrial mechanics work with advanced and precision machine tools, absolute responsibility and precaution are essential.
Governments and industries value the profession of industrial mechanics a lot since these are the aptly-skilled experts who keep the wheel of industry moving. The term millwright is popular in Canada, South Africa, and the USA. In the rest of the world, you will know these professionals as industrial technicians, mechanics, or mechanical engineers.
Job Sectors for Millwrights
Any industry needing automated machinery and power systems must recruit tradespeople to set up, maintain, and repair the factory installation or parts. Hence, as a journeyman millwright, you can find reputed and highly-paid jobs in:
- Aggregate and mining
- Thermal power plants
- Nuclear power plants
- Oil refineries
- Food processing factories
- Hydroelectric power generation plants
Job Responsibilities of a Millwright
#1. Interpreting and reading diagrams, blueprints, schematics, and service manuals of equipment and machinery.
#2. Categorizing, dismantling, and storing equipment and machine parts when they are no longer needed or being deprecated.
#3. Industrial mechanics also assemble, balance, and calibrate new factory machinery for safe operation during the production of goods.
#4. Medium and small production-linked industries may also need millwrights to supervise the inventory of new machinery, spare parts, power tools, and accessories needed for production processes.
#5. Journeyman millwrights need to perform preventative maintenance and machinery inspection to keep all the equipment online and produce goods rather than sitting idle due to faults.
#6. Tradespersons also repair production machinery should it fail.
#7. As a millwright, you also need to follow standard safety guidelines from the company and government agencies to keep you and your team safe from occupational hazards.
Skill Requirements to Become a Millwright
You need to acquire the following essential skills to pursue a successful career as an industrial mechanic. These skills help you learn other trade-specific skills, adapt to the workplace, and grow your career through continuous learning:
The minimum educational requirement is a high school diploma or equivalent to enter the apprenticeship program. Here, you will undergo in-person classes to learn the techniques of machinery setup, preventative maintenance, repairs, replacements, etc. You may also learn skills related to computer-aided designing and drafting (CAD), technical mathematics, electric principles, and blueprint reading.
#2. Trade-Specific Skills
You must learn millwright skills that will enable you to complete your tasks at the workplace. The apprenticeship and in-school learning will expose you to the following skills during the training period:
- Installing gears, shafts, couplings, motors, and bearings
- Welding of metal structures and equipment
- Aerial lifting and scaffolding
- Designing and reading electrical and mechanical blueprints
- Robotics, software packages, and machinery automation programs
- Vibration analysis
- Automated storage and retrieval systems (ASRS) and conveyors
Mostly you will learn the trade through 3 to 4 years of apprenticeship. At the end of each year of the apprenticeship program, you must accumulate:
- 144 hours or more of technical instructions of millwright trade from a designated technical college or the workplace itself.
- 2,000 hours of on-the-job training with pay.
At the end of the apprenticeship program, you will learn how to install, lubricate, clean, repair, and operate industrial production machinery. You will also master professional skills of mechanical mathematics, blueprint reading, using pneumatic and electronic devices, etc.
Since most of the factories have undergone a high degree of digital transformation, you may also undergo extensive training in computer, database software, blueprint designing applications, etc.
#4. Institutional Accreditation
Certain educational institutions and employers offer industrial mechanic certification. The accreditation endorses that the candidate has completed the required training and theoretical learnings.
Some of the popular certification bodies are Red Seal (Canada), National Center for Construction Education & Research (NCCER, USA), and United Brotherhood of Carpenters/Millwrights (UBC, USA).
Salary Expectations for the Millwright Career
You might be curious to know your earning potential if you become a tradesman. Therefore, we bring you the ultimate information on salary expectations for this career path.
According to recent data from Payscal.com, a millwright’s average hourly pay rate is $25.94 per hour. This is an average of tradesmen who are undergoing apprenticeship and journeyman millwrights. However, your actual payment will depend on the employment contract terms like benefits, perks, medical insurance, social security, hourly overtime rates, etc.
If you translate the hourly rate into a yearly estimation, you are looking at an earning potential of $74,240 per year. The bottom of the graph starts at $47,000 per year and could go up to $140,000 per year. This salary estimation excludes other potential incomes from bonuses, profit sharing, and commissions.
The annual pay range also depends on the organization that hires you. If the company is big and multinational, then you can expect a better salary package. The top names that frequently hire highly-trained industrial mechanics are:
- Georgia-Pacific Corporation
- International Paper Co
- Tradesman International, INC.
- Canfor Corporation
- Bechtel Corporation
- General Motors Corporation
- Sierra Pacific Industries
- Roseburg Forest Products
- Boise Cascade Corp
- General Electric Co (G.E.)
- WestRock Company
The profession of an industrial mechanic is a growth-based career. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics research, titled OES May 2020, expects job opportunities in tradespeople and allied services should grow by 19% from 2020 to 2030.
The Career Flow for a Millwright
You can become a journeyman millwright in many ways, like going through conventional education and then pursuing an apprenticeship or getting a diploma. However, formal education is not mandatory to be an industrial mechanic.
Still, going through a good educational system will give you an edge over other jobseekers. You will understand machinery and their maintenance easily if you come from an allied educational background.
Finally, the apprenticeship program is mandatory since it delivers maximum educational and on-the-job training skills needed for this career. If you are a novice and looking to become a millwright, you can follow the below steps:
#1. Undertake Schooling in an Allied Subject
First, you must earn a high school diploma or similar educational certification through conventional schooling. After high school, it is wise to earn an undergraduate degree or Associate (AAS) degree in Industrial Maintenance Technology. This much education should help you compete in the growing job market.
#2. Keep Yourself Physically Fit and Active
The initial days of a millwright’s career will demand more extensive physical activity than any desk job. You may need to lift heavy machinery and install them. You will also need to move around the factory for machinery inspection, maintenance, and repairs.
Therefore, follow a nutritional diet chart to keep you healthy. Also, work out regularly to keep your body active and build stamina.
#3. Get a Certification Through Apprenticeship
The apprenticeship will give you hands-on working experience for the full-time industrial technician position. State labor departments, unions, and contractor associations offer apprenticeship programs if you secure an on-the-job training position in any production facility.
If you are a newcomer, look for millwright apprenticeship job postings online and in your area. If you get a suitable offer, join the program. Sometimes, enterprises hire trainee industrial mechanics and sponsor the individuals to undergo certification and apprenticeship.
If the candidate completes the program successfully, there is a good chance that the on-the-job training provider company will hire you. You can also look for other journeyman millwright opportunities as that will pay you better.
#4. Create a Resume
Now, you need to draft a resume that clearly shows your achievements, education, and certifications. If you have got any job experience, you may also highlight that. When creating a resume, emphasize tradesman skills like mechanical knowledge, attention to detail, time management, interpersonal communication, and technical troubleshooting.
#5. Apply for Open Positions
You can browse online job markets for millwright positions and apply to those posts as you see fit. However, highly paid and lucrative job positions are mostly available through professional references. Hence, during the apprenticeship program, connect with experienced tradespeople and get references from them to secure a job in top companies.
Certifications for the Millwright Career
NCCER offers various workforce development programs and certifications in the construction and mechanical sector. One such course is craft training for industrial mechanics. It has an elaborate five-level program for tradesman training and accreditation.
The program covers vital topics like Fabricating Shims, Millwright Hand Tools, etc. You can visit its official website to download the entire syllabus, craft catalog pages, and the full NCCER catalog. You can also find a training center as per your choice on NCCER’s website.
If you have accumulated enough learning hours, you can take the assessment from NCCER. You can also sit for the test if you are already working as a millwright and want to get a certification for better pay. NCCER consulted practicing tradesman-ship subject matter experts to create a syllabus that matches industry practices.
#2. UBC Millwright Training
Another source of certification and qualification assessment in the USA is the UBC. It operates according to the NMAP/Millwright Qualification Program of the U.S. Federal Government.
For personalized qualification assessments, you need to register with UBC. You can register online. UBC trains thousands of industrial mechanics, first-year apprentices, and superintendents each year. Hence, it is a leading and most reliable platform for certification.
You can get qualified if you undergo an apprenticeship program recognized by UBC. You must also document 10,000 hours of work experience before January 1, 1996. Finally, you need to go through a manipulative and written test. You must pass the tests securing 80% and more scores.
#3. Read Seal RSOS
If you want to certify yourself as a skilled industrial mechanic or millwright, you need to pass the certification test by Red Seal. It is highly popular, widely accepted, and most trusted across Canada. You need to master nine essential skills and acquire the working knowledge of a tradesman to pass the test. The nine skill set includes:
- Document Use
- Oral Communication
- Digital Technology
- Continuous Learning
- Working With Others
The industrial work aptitude test will cover questions from rigging, moving, hoisting, lifting, mechanical power transmission, material handling, fluid power systems, and preventative maintenance.
#4. BCIT, Canada
You can also check out the millwright courses offered by BCIT. The training course is a full-time program with an apprenticeship. School of Energy, BCIT, Canada, is the primary host of the program. Moreover, the course materials, learnings, and practical sessions are delivered in person. Hence, you must attend regular classes.
So far, you have gone through a detailed discussion on the millwright career path. If machinery, power tools, advanced mathematics, and precision design blueprints intrigue you, you must look at the career of a tradesman or journeyman millwright.
You may also be interested in the best CAD software for professionals and students.
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