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Occupation Profile for Millwrights

Install, dismantle, or move machinery and heavy equipment according to layout plans, blueprints, or other drawings.


Significant Points

  • Millwrights usually train in 4-year to 5-year apprenticeships; some learn through community college programs coupled with informal paid on-the-job training.
  • Despite projected slower-than-average employment growth, well-qualified applicants should have excellent job opportunities.
  • About 50 percent of millwrights belong to labor unions, one of the highest rates of membership in the economy.


$45,630.00 Median Annual Wage 1,000 Average Job Openings Per Year
6.9 Average Unemployment Percentage 53.9 Percentage That Completed High School
55,000 Employment Numbers in 2006 43.3 Percentage That Had Some College
58,000 Employment Numbers in 2016 (est.) 0.0 Percentage That Went Beyond College Degree

Sample Job Titles
Apprentice, Millwright
Assembler, Machine, Industrial
Automated Equipment Engineer-Technician
Engineer, Automobile Equipment Technician
Field Service Technician
Machine Erector
Machine Installer
Machine Mover
Machine Rigger
Machine Set Up Operator
Machine Setter
Machinery Dismantler
Machinery Erector
Machinery Mover
Machinery Rigger
Maintenance Mechanic
Maintenance Millwright
Manufacturer's Service Representative
Manufacturers Service Representative, Installing
Millwright Apprentice
Plant Changer
Repairer, Gear
Technician, Automated Equipment Engineer
Technician, Engineer, Automobile Equipment

  • These occupations usually involve using communication and organizational skills to coordinate, supervise, manage, or train others to accomplish goals. Examples include funeral directors, electricians, forest and conservation technicians, legal secretaries, interviewers, and insurance sales agents.
  • Most occupations in this zone require training in vocational schools, related on-the-job experience, or an associate's degree. Some may require a bachelor's degree.
  • Previous work-related skill, knowledge, or experience is required for these occupations. For example, an electrician must have completed three or four years of apprenticeship or several years of vocational training, and often must have passed a licensing exam, in order to perform the job.
  • Employees in these occupations usually need one or two years of training involving both on-the-job experience and informal training with experienced workers.

Millwrights usually train in 4-year to 5-year apprenticeships that combine paid on-the-job training with classroom instruction. Some learn through community college programs coupled with informal paid on-the-job training.

Education and training. Employers prefer applicants who have a high school diploma, GED, or the equivalent and some vocational training or experience. Courses in science, mathematics, mechanical drawing, computers, and machine shop practice are useful. Once hired, millwrights are trained through 4-year to 5-year apprenticeship programs that combine on-the-job training with classroom instruction, or through community college programs coupled with informal on-the-job training.

Apprenticeships include training in dismantling, moving, erecting, and repairing machinery. Trainees also might learn carpentry, welding, use of concrete, sheet-metal work, and other skills related to installation and repair. Millwright apprentices often attend about 1 week of classes every 3 months. Classroom instruction covers mathematics, blueprint reading, hydraulics, vibration analysis, conveyor systems, electricity, computers, electronics, machining, and instruction in specific machinery. Millwrights are expected to keep their skills up-to-date and may need additional training on technological advances, such as laser shaft alignment.

Other qualifications. Because millwrights assemble and disassemble complicated machinery, mechanical aptitude is very important. Strength and agility also are necessary for lifting and climbing. Millwrights need good interpersonal and communication skills to work as part of a team and to effectively give detailed instructions to others.

Advancement. Advancement for millwrights usually takes the form of higher wages. Some advance to the position of supervisor or superintendent; others may become self-employed contractors.

Nature of Work

Millwrights install, replace, dismantle, and repair machinery and heavy equipment used in power generation, including wind power, hydroelectric damns, and natural gas turbines, and in manufacturing plants, construction sites, and mining operations. The development of new technologies requires millwrights to work with new industry-specific and highly complex precision machines. Some of these machines have tolerances smaller than the width of a human hair.

The millwright’s responsibilities begin before a new piece of machinery arrives at the jobsite. Millwrights consult with production managers, industrial engineers, and others to determine the optimal placement of the machine in the plant. Some equipment, such as a metal forging press, is so heavy that it must be placed on a new foundation. Millwrights either prepare the foundation themselves or supervise its construction. As a result, they must know how to read blueprints and to work with a variety of building materials.

When the new machine arrives, millwrights unload, inspect, and move the equipment into position. To lift and move light machinery, millwrights use rigging and hoisting devices, such as pulleys and cables. With heavier equipment, they may use hydraulic-lift trucks or cranes. Lifting such heavy equipment requires millwrights to understand the load properties of cables, ropes, hoists, and cranes. Parts of power plant turbines and other machinery can weigh more than 100 tons and must be precisely positioned; even nuts and bolts can weigh a few hundred pounds each and require a crane to move.

Next, millwrights assemble the machinery. They fit bearings, align gears and wheels, attach motors, and connect belts, according to the manufacturer’s blueprints and drawings. Precision leveling and alignment are important in the assembly process, so millwrights measure angles, material thickness, and small distances with calipers, squares, micrometers, and other tools. When a high level of precision is required, they use devices such as lasers and ultrasonic measuring and alignment tools. Millwrights also work with hand and power tools, such as cutting torches, welding machines, hydraulic torque wrenches, hydraulic stud tensioners, soldering guns, and with metalworking equipment, including lathes and grinding machines.

In addition to installing and dismantling machinery, many millwrights work with industrial mechanics and maintenance workers to repair and maintain equipment. This includes preventive maintenance, such as lubrication and fixing or replacing worn parts. If a spare part is unavailable, a millwright may use a lathe or other machine tool to cut a new part. (For further information on machinery maintenance, see the section on industrial machinery mechanics and maintenance workers elsewhere in the Handbook.)

Increasingly sophisticated automation means more complicated machines for millwrights to install and maintain, requiring millwrights to specialize in certain machines or machine brands. For example, some millwrights specialize in installing and maintaining turbines in power plants that can weigh hundreds of tons and contain thousands of parts. This machinery requires special care and knowledge, so millwrights receive additional training and are required to be certified by the turbine manufacturer.

Work environment. Millwrights in manufacturing often work in a machine shop and use protective equipment, such as safety belts, protective glasses, and hardhats, to avoid injuries from falling objects or machinery. Those employed in construction may work outdoors in difficult weather conditions.

Millwrights at construction sites may travel long distances to worksites. For example, millwrights who specialize in turbine installation travel to wherever new power plants are being built.

Advanced equipment, such as hydraulic wrenches and hydraulic stud tensioners, have made the work safer and eliminated the need for millwrights to use sledge hammers to pound bolts into position. Other equipment has reduced the strenuous tasks that caused injuries in the past.

Millwrights work independently or as part of a team. Because disabled machinery costs time and money, many millwrights work overtime and some work in shifts; about 39 percent of millwrights report working more than 40 hours during a typical week. During power outages or other emergencies, millwrights often work overtime.

Related Occupations

Sources: Career Guide to Industries (CGI), Occupational Information Network (O*Net), Occupation Outlook Handbook (OOH)

Median hourly wage-and-salary earnings of millwrights were $21.94 in May 2006. The middle 50 percent earned between $17.13 and $29.42. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $13.84, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $34.39. Earnings vary by industry and geographic location. Median hourly wage-and-salary earnings in the industries employing the largest numbers of millwrights were:

Pulp, paper, and paperboard mills $25.43
Iron and steel mills and ferroalloy manufacturing 20.91
Nonresidential building construction 20.34
Building equipment contractors 19.67
Sawmills and wood preservation 17.55

About 50 percent of millwrights belong to labor unions, one of the highest rates of membership in the economy.

For the latest wage information:

The above wage data are from the Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) survey program, unless otherwise noted. For the latest National, State, and local earnings data, visit the following pages:

  • Millwrights
  • Job Outlook

    Employment of millwrights is projected to grow more slowly than average. Opportunities for well-qualified applicants should be excellent, however, as many experienced millwrights retire.

    Employment change. Employment of millwrights is projected to grow 6 percent during the 2006-16 decade, slower than the average for all occupations. To remain competitive in coming years, firms will continue to need millwrights to dismantle old equipment and install new high-technology machinery. Highly automated systems that are installed and maintained by millwrights often allow manufacturing companies to remain competitive with producers in lower-wage countries. Warehouse and distribution companies also are deploying highly automated conveyor systems, which are assembled and maintained by millwrights. In addition, growth in both power generation, including wind power and turbines for natural gas and coal plants, and oil and gas extraction and refining will help drive employment growth.

    Employment growth will be dampened somewhat by foreign competition in manufacturing. In addition, the demand for millwrights will be adversely affected as other workers, such as industrial machinery mechanics and maintenance workers, assume some installation and maintenance duties.

    Job prospects. The large number of expected retirements and the difficulty of recruiting new workers will create excellent job opportunities for well-qualified applicants. Job prospects should be especially good for those who have experience in machining, welding, or doing mechanical work. Employment prospects for millwrights are better than for some other manufacturing workers because they work across a wide range of industries, including power generation, paper mills, mining, and motor vehicle parts manufacturing. When a downturn occurs in one industry, millwrights can more easily switch to another industry. There will always be a need to maintain and repair existing machinery, dismantle old machinery, and install new equipment.


    Millwrights held about 55,000 jobs in 2006. About half work in manufacturing, primarily in industries such as transportation equipment manufacturing and primary metals manufacturing. About 40 percent of millwrights are employed in construction, where most work for contracting firms that assemble and maintain machinery and equipment for the manufacturing and utility industries, among others. Although millwrights work in every State, employment is concentrated in heavily industrialized areas.

    • Mathematics — Knowledge of arithmetic, algebra, geometry, calculus, statistics, and their applications.
    • Engineering and Technology — Knowledge of the practical application of engineering science and technology. This includes applying principles, techniques, procedures, and equipment to the design and production of various goods and services.
    • Sales and Marketing — Knowledge of principles and methods for showing, promoting, and selling products or services. This includes marketing strategy and tactics, product demonstration, sales techniques, and sales control systems.
    • Medicine and Dentistry — Knowledge of the information and techniques needed to diagnose and treat human injuries, diseases, and deformities. This includes symptoms, treatment alternatives, drug properties and interactions, and preventive health-care measures.
    • Physics — Knowledge and prediction of physical principles, laws, their interrelationships, and applications to understanding fluid, material, and atmospheric dynamics, and mechanical, electrical, atomic and sub- atomic structures and processes.
    • Equipment Maintenance — Performing routine maintenance on equipment and determining when and what kind of maintenance is needed.
    • Coordination — Adjusting actions in relation to others' actions.
    • Active Learning — Understanding the implications of new information for both current and future problem-solving and decision-making.
    • Writing — Communicating effectively in writing as appropriate for the needs of the audience.
    • Troubleshooting — Determining causes of operating errors and deciding what to do about it.
    • Near Vision — The ability to see details at close range (within a few feet of the observer).
    • Stamina — The ability to exert yourself physically over long periods of time without getting winded or out of breath.
    • Explosive Strength — The ability to use short bursts of muscle force to propel oneself (as in jumping or sprinting), or to throw an object.
    • Oral Comprehension — The ability to listen to and understand information and ideas presented through spoken words and sentences.
    • Hearing Sensitivity — The ability to detect or tell the differences between sounds that vary in pitch and loudness.
    • Supplemental — Construct foundation for machines, using hand tools and building materials such as wood, cement, and steel.
    • Core — Signal crane operator to lower basic assembly units to bedplate, and align unit to centerline.
    • Supplemental — Operate engine lathe to grind, file, and turn machine parts to dimensional specifications.
    • Supplemental — Install robot and modify its program, using teach pendant.
    • Core — Insert shims, adjust tension on nuts and bolts, or position parts, using hand tools and measuring instruments, to set specified clearances between moving and stationary parts.
    • Monitoring and Controlling Resources — Monitoring and controlling resources and overseeing the spending of money.
    • Guiding, Directing, and Motivating Subordinates — Providing guidance and direction to subordinates, including setting performance standards and monitoring performance.
    • Assisting and Caring for Others — Providing personal assistance, medical attention, emotional support, or other personal care to others such as coworkers, customers, or patients.
    • Repairing and Maintaining Electronic Equipment — Servicing, repairing, calibrating, regulating, fine-tuning, or testing machines, devices, and equipment that operate primarily on the basis of electrical or electronic (not mechanical) principles.
    • Getting Information — Observing, receiving, and otherwise obtaining information from all relevant sources.
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