Are you looking for a rewarding, challenging, and dynamic career? Millwrights are tradespeople who work with their hands and help industries across the globe manufacture critical goods. This guide will help you discover more about the millwright career, and provide you with up-to-date information on salary, expectations, and career requirements.
What do Millwrights Do?
Millwrights (also called industrial mechanics or machinery maintenance workers) are skilled tradespeople that specialize in installing, repairing, and maintaining stationary industrial machinery and equipment. To do this, millwrights leverage a variety of tools and skills to ensure equipment is running smoothly, safely, and effectively.
Currently, over 60,000 millwrights operate in the United States and Canada across a wide variety of settings — including power plants, factories, construction sites, and facilities across critical infrastructure industries. When consumers purchase goods on the shelf, an army of behind-the-scenes millwrights used their problem-solving acumen and rigorous attention to detail to ensure those products were safely and effectively manufactured.
As a millwright, you can expect a challenging and exciting career. Responsibilities include:
- Installing and assembling industrial machinery based on blueprints and schematics using a variety of tools and techniques.
- Proactively maintaining equipment and repairing old machinery
- Disassembling and moving large, heavy machinery using cranes, welders, bolters, and other high-skill tools
- Troubleshooting complex components and electrical issues
- Working on both independent and team-based tasks
- Solving complex issues on one-of-a-kind machinery using logic, tools, and available resources
- Reactively fixing emergency issues to keep the factory productive
- Adhering to safety regulations and creating safe working spaces for other workers
As a millwright, no two days are the same. One day may involve routine maintenance work, and the next may have you rushing to solve an emergency issue. It’s a rewarding and challenging career with opportunities for personal and professional advancement.
How Do You Become a Millwright?
Millwrights come from many different education and skill backgrounds. While the below is the general pathway, many people become millwrights in nonstandard ways.
Education Requirements for a Millwright
Today, most companies want millwrights to have a minimum education of a high school diploma or equivalent (e.g., a General Education Development certification). That said, there are some millwrights without a high school education or G.E.D — as with many other trades.
Technically, there are no hard-fast college requirements. Of course, a college education often looks better on a resume. However, many well-paid, well-skilled, and incredibly talented millwrights have zero college education. In our experience helping millwrights find high-paying and rewarding jobs, most companies prefer experience over a college education. So, you do not need a college degree to land an amazing millwright job.
Skill Requirements for a Millwright
During an apprenticeship, millwrights will learn a wide variety of hard skills, including:
- Welding and machining
- Electrical work
- Blueprint & manual utilization
- Equipment installation
- Equipment testing
- Equipment maintenance
- Safety skills
- Fluid mechanics (e.g., pneumatics, hydraulics, pumps, compressors, etc.)
- Precision tool mastery (e.g., gauge blocks, lasers, calipers, indicators, etc.)
Outside of learned skills, many soft skills can help prepare you for a career as a millwright, including:
- Problem-solving skills
- Quick decision-making
- No fear of heights
- Ability to work independently
- Thrive in both pressure situations and when working within a tight schedule
Not all of these skills are necessary for millwrights. Most skills are learnable, and plenty of millwrights are able to learn soft skills on the job.
Traditional Millwright Pathway
After graduating high school, most millwrights start their careers as apprentices. During an apprenticeship, millwrights will work closely with veteran millwrights to hone their skills and learn the basics of the job. You can expect your apprenticeship to last 4 years. You will be paid during this time.
After 4 years, you can take a certification exam (example) to become a bonafide millwright — which significantly impacts your earning potential.
Apprenticeships will have a classroom aspect. This is required by certification bodies, and it’s also important for learning more complex topics such as fluid mechanics. However, the majority of your time will be spent on on-the-job training, helping you learn the technical skills and knowledge necessary to excel in the position.
Alternatively, some millwrights attend vocational school. These trade schools usually take 6 to 12 months to complete. During this time, you will learn a significant amount about the technical side of being a millwright — such as problem-solving skills, fluid mechanics, electrical knowledge, and mathematics. Trade school will count towards the hours you need to become a journeyman.
Millwright Work Environment
Given the nature of their work, millwrights operate in a wide variety of industries and settings. Yet, despite this variability, all millwrights have similar tasks and responsibilities. You can expect to have semi-clear work schedules, access to critical tools, and a defined process for handling unexpected issues. Of course, you can’t prepare for everything. Millwrights need to think on their feet and leverage problem-solving to overcome emergency issues and unexpected circumstances.
Most millwrights will have set maintenance schedules and long periods of machinery installation. Further, you can expect to deal with emergency reactive maintenance and regularly repair and change out factory equipment.
Again, millwrights have no set daily task. Some days, you’ll be welding and dealing with precision. Other days may involve pipefitting and alignment. If you want a career that’s similar day-to-day, becoming a millwright probably isn’t for you. But, if you like challenges, change, and non-routine work, millwrights are some of the most dynamic and multi-faceted tradespeople in the world.
What is the Average Salary of Millwrights in Canada?
The average pay for a millwright in Canada is between $36,500 and $124,800. While that sounds wildly variable, that’s because millwright pay is incredibly variable. We know that better than just about anyone.
For example, salary data aggregated across job websites is different. Indeed suggests the average salary is $83,505. Glassdoor says $61,390. Payscale shows $72,523. And the Canadian Job Bank suggests anywhere from $36,500 on the low end in Nova Scotia to $124,800 on the high end in Alberta.
We highly recommend millwrights work with a tradespeople recruitment agency like WORKFORCE to secure best-in-class wages. There is no dead-set average in this industry. You need someone with an ear to the ground and connections in the industry to source and secure the highest-paying positions.
Which Province Pays Millwrights the Most?
As a whole, the highest-paying providence is Alberta as indicated by the Government’s updated prevailing wages data. The Wood Buffalo–Cold Lake Region is home to the highest-paying median positions for millwrights. In part, this is driven by the oil industry, which has higher trending pay than many other millwright industries.
According to government data, Ontario and Nova Scotia trend lower than average. However, that’s not our experience. The middle pay data for Ontario is $31 per hour according to the Government. Our job board has dozens of available opportunities that pay over $40 per hour, with many trending into the $50/hr range.
We highly, highly recommend leveraging a solution like WORKFORCE during the job hunt. We have relations with many of the highest-paying industries and companies in the business. And our pickiness for great work environments helps us secure job postings from companies that pay well and treat their employees extremely well.
What is the Average Salary of Industrial Mechanics in the United States?
The average pay for a millwright or industrial mechanic in the United States is between $37,900 and $81,000. Again, there’s a ton of variability depending on which salary data aggregation source you look at. Indeed shows $61,828. Talent.com shows $53,927. And the BLS shows $60,300. All of these places are using different sources and mathematics to arrive at a final number.
To find the highest-paying jobs, get in touch with us. We have access to some of the most lucrative positions in the U.S. through strategic partnerships and ongoing business-to-business relationships.
Which States Pay Millwrights the Most?
In general, millwrights’ pay trends with living expenses. Places with higher living expenses (e.g., California, New York, etc.) pay more. However, there are some standouts. According to Zip Recruiter, Washington has the highest pay for millwrights. This is somewhat similar to our experience. We’ve placed some extremely high-paying millwright jobs in the Seattle area.
How to Earn More Money as a Millwright
As advocates for tradespeople, we’ve spent our entire careers finding ways to help millwrights and similar tradespeople earn more. Today, let’s leverage that experience to provide tangible tips we’ve learned over the years. These tips will help you earn more. We know; we use them every day to help tradespeople score higher salaries.
- Find the right jobs: There are thousands of millwright jobs available, but they don’t all pay the same. Often, higher pay has nothing to do with experience or ability. It’s often down to luck. You need to find the perfect job at the perfect time. Two equally-experienced millwrights can earn vastly different incomes. One can earn $30/hr, and the other can earn $60/hr, and both can work down the street from each other. Use every job-searching tool at your disposal.
- Don’t settle: This is, by far, the main way to cripple your earning potential. Don’t just settle for whatever job you have. Wages usually rise much faster than raises. Every year or two, check out the job market and see what the pay is. If you get stuck in the same position, you could cripple your earning power by magnitudes.
- Remember your power: Millwrights are in serious demand. Shortages are impacting every trade in both Canada and the United States. Use it to your advantage.
- Work on your resume: Great resumes score great jobs. Make sure your resume includes your experience, as well as your soft skills like decision-making and problem-solving.
- Get more experience: Obviously, more experience is always better. Just remember, that doesn’t mean you have to spend 15 years in the same position, especially if your raises aren’t matching the wage increases of the position as a whole.
The best way to improve your income is to work with a strategic partner like WORKFORCE. We help tradespeople find the best-fit, high-paying jobs without any nonsense.
Here are some resources to help you learn more about becoming a millwright:
Find a High Paying Millwright Career Today!
At WORKFORCE, we help millwrights connect with amazing companies across Canada and the United States. We’ll help you find a high-paying and rewarding career. Contact us to learn more.