Most millwrights learn their trade through a three- or four-year apprenticeship. 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:
- Minimum age of 18
- High school diploma or equivalent
- Physically able to do the work
Millwrights typically receive on-the-job training lasting a few months to one 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 two-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.