The person who works with his hands is a laborer; the person that works with his hands and his head is an artisan; the person who works with his hands, his head and his heart is a Union Millwright
What is a Millwright?
If you like to work with machine tools and precision instruments, and have a keen eye
for the perfect fit, you might consider being a Millwright. Millwrights sometimes work to
specifications requiring tolerances to a thousandth of an inch. In the old days, before
heavy metal machinery, Millwrights carved out gears and shafts from wood for mills and
small industrial plants. Today Millwrights are an elite group of construction workers who
work primarily in metal and with machinery and equipment requiring precision.
What do Millwrights do?
Millwrights install conveyors systems, escalators, giant electrical turbines and
generators. Millwrights do maintenance on machinery in factories, and do much of
the precision work in nuclear power plants. Millwrights are skilled construction mechanics
who study and interpret blue prints, and then put their knowledge and expertise to work
drilling, welding, bolting and doing whatever else is necessary to assure that the cogs of
industry are in perfect working order.
How do I become a Millwright?
Millwright training is available in most areas through local labor-management
apprenticeship committees. These committees, made up of contractor and union
representatives, make sure that you get proper instructions while you are working to earn
a decent wage. To get the ball rolling, you can call or visit your local Millwright union
and ask for further information. Remember, millwrights are members of the United
Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America, a proud organization with more than
650,000 members like yourself. Go for it!
What is an Apprentice?
An apprentice is someone who is learning a trade while working under the guidance of a
skilled workers called journeymen. Apprenticeship is on-the-job training. You earn while
you learn and are paid a wage from the first day you become an apprentice. Today, women
are among those training as Millwright Apprentices, too. Beginning apprentices usually
start at about half the journeyman rate of pay. But your wage will increase periodically,
usually every six months, until you reach the full journeyman's scale at the end of the
apprenticeship period. In most cases the length of your apprenticeship is four years,
usually with no cost to you for the training. What a Bargain!
Is there something I can do to get ready?
If you are still in school, you should take classes in mathematics, drafting and
mechanical drawing, metal or industrial shop, or any construction courses which
familiarize you with construction technology. These classes will help you develop the
dexterity and practical thinking skills you will need as an apprentice Millwright.
What are the hours and working conditions of a Millwright?
Millwrights generally work eight-hour days. Apprentice usually start out helping
journeymen with basic tasks like material handling, and move into more sophisticated jobs
as their knowledge and skills increase. Although Millwrights work indoors much of the time
on installation and maintenance work, their duties also involve working on the outside of
buildings and other structures, in situations often requiring the use of scaffolding. Quite often Millwrights are required to work split shifts and over time, and to travel long distances for work. In such cases the union sees to it that the Millwright is compensated with over time pay and travel allowance. Millwrights work with a variety of hand and portable power tools, and frequently cut, join and fasten metal construction materials using welding equipment and oxy-acetylene torches.
The Pay And Benefits Really Add Up
The rewards of apprenticeship training are the good wages and benefits you receive as a
skilled building and construction trades-man. Union Millwrights belong to the United
Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America. You'll be working for a good contractor
with the protection of a union contract, which means you will probably have health
insurance, pension and welfare benefits. It pays to be the best you can
For more information call the UBC Apprenticeship and Training Fund of North America at: 202-546-6206 ext 300.
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