How to Become an Industrial Mechanic / Millwright in Canada

By Logan Bright Modified on December 14, 2023
Tags : Careers | Skilled Trades | STEM

Millwrights are in-demand across the country, and contribute to the growth, diversification, and sustainability of Canadian industry.

How to Become a Millwright in Canada

If you're looking for an in-demand skilled trade with room for growth, consider becoming an industrial mechanic, otherwise known as a millwright. Millwrights are needed across Canada, contributing to manufacturing, maintenance, and the ongoing "greenification" of Canadian industry.

What is an industrial mechanic / millwright?

So, what does a millwright do? Per the Canadian Job Bank, millwrights may work in construction, as contractors, or for industry directly, in places like manufacturing plants, utilities operators, oil and gas firms — anywhere that uses large-scale machinery. They plan, install, maintain, and repair machinery that contributes to industrial growth.

Industrial mechanics (millwrights) differ from heavy-duty equipment mechanics in one crucial way: millwrights deal primarily with stationary machinery, not engines or vehicles.

Millwrights get their education and experience through some in-class training, but the majority of millwright training comes through apprenticeship. Let's take a look at how to become a millwright in Canada.

Step 1: Pre-apprenticeship training

If you've never worked as a millwright, you're going to need some training before you can become a registered apprentice. You might find 'pre-apprenticeship' programs referred to as 'foundation' or 'pre-employment' programs as well.

You can find programs like these through colleges, though there may also be local trades organizations near you that offer it too. In most cases, to enrol you'll need a high school diploma, with some experience with math and science an asset.

You can expect anywhere from 12 to 52 weeks of training, with classroom and on-the-job learning included! These programs are typically offered in-person, but may have some online components. Here's a short list of a few options, but you're sure to find more:

In Ontario, these pre-apprenticeship programs are offered at no cost! Tuition, tools, and other fees are totally covered by the province, in an effort to develop future tradespeople. So if you're in Ontario, you're in luck!

Otherwise, you can expect to pay a couple of thousand dollars to cover your costs, depending on your program and location.

Step 2: Becoming an apprentice

Apprenticeship is where you'll learn most of your skills. An apprentice works under a "journeyperson" millwright — someone who's been through an apprenticeship themselves. Your journeyperson millwright will show you how the trade works, demonstrate the skills you'll need, and ensure you've got the knowledge needed to succeed as a millwright yourself. Each journeyperson will typically take on just one or two apprentices at a time.

The best part? You get paid to do your apprenticeship! The Canadian Job Bank pegs the median income at over $32 per hour!

While most of your time will be spent on-the-job, working in real environments, you'll also want to get some in-school education at the same time. Most provinces require four levels of "technical training" — that is, in-school training — and a program at a college is the best way to climb the ladder.

How to find a journeyperson millwright to take you on as an apprentice

If you don't have any contacts in the business, be sure to speak with the folks at your pre-apprentice training classes. They may have leads in place to help pair you with a working millwright. Otherwise, you'll have to do some searching.

You can check with your local apprenticeship authority, or try Canada's Job Bank, which will have new listings from time to time. You can also try sites like, though it requires registration.

You might also have some luck on job boards like ZipRecruiter or

Getting your in-school and on-the-job training hours

Different provinces have different requirements for the total number of technical training (in-school) and on-the-job hours to fully qualify as an industrial mechanic or millwright.

In most cases, you'll need between 24 and 32 weeks of in-school training, which will be broken up into chunks of 8-12 weeks each. Technical hours required range from as low as 840 in New Brunswick to 1,800 in Quebec. Most provinces settle around 960 total hours.

You'll get these hours through an apprenticeship millwright program at a local college. Unlike pre-apprenticeship programs, these require you to be an apprentice to gain admission, and are specifically designed for working apprentices to earn their technical training hours.

Here are a few examples; you're sure to find more if you go looking!

The vast majority of your education will come while you're on the job, though. You'll need anywhere from 5,280 hours in Manitoba, to 7,280 in Ontario, meaning your on-the-job training will take three or four years of full-time work. Many provinces settle around the 6,300 hours mark.

Climbing the apprenticeship levels

As you gain experience working as an apprentice millwright, you'll progress through four levels of expertise — with the exceptions of Ontario, which has only three levels, and Quebec, which doesn't use the levels system.

These levels represent ascending stages of mastery over your trade, and each level requires its own chunk of in-school training. Basically, you'll work on the job for a while, then take several weeks in the classroom, and move up a level each time. Each level requires a written exam, but there are no practical exams for millwrights.

Many pre-apprenticeship programs count as level one expertise, so you may only need to pass two or three more levels to complete your training.

Once you've finished all the hours of in-school and on-the-job training required — between 6,400 and 8,000 total hours, depending on your province — you'll be qualified as a journeyperson millwright. You could even think about taking on an apprentice!

Start looking for millwright jobs online! There are plenty of openings around the country, and Statistics Canada predicts a shortage of millwrights in the coming years.

Step 3: Earn your Red Seal (optional)

Because industrial mechanics / millwrights have no mandatory certification process beyond passing the written exams and gathering the total work hours required to complete your apprenticeship, you're off to the races, and can start seeking work as a full-fledged millwright in your province!

That said, you can also get your Red Seal, the "final exam" of the skilled trades in Canada. A Red Seal endorsement means you can practice your trade anywhere in Canada, not just the province you learned in. If you want to work in different parts of the country, earning your Red Seal is a good idea.

You'll earn your Red Seal by completing another written exam, of 135 total questions, covering areas like:

  • Rigging and hoisting
  • Power transmission components
  • Material handling

These should all be familiar to you from your experience, but if you want a preview of what you can expect from the Red Seal exam, check out the Red Seal online self-assessment for millwrights. You can learn exactly what will be on the test so you can prepare effectively. Then just get in touch with your local trades authority to find out when and how you can write the exam.

That's it! The short version of becoming a millwright is simple:

  • Get pre-apprenticeship training, in school or on the job
  • Register as an apprentice, and complete three or four levels of in-school training alongside many hours of practical learning under a journeyperson millwright
  • Pass the Red Seal exam so you can work anywhere in the country, if you want

Millwrights earn over $66,000 per year on average, or $32.60 an hour. With skills and experience, millwrights can earn up to $93,000 per year, or more, according to Statistics Canada! Wages vary depending on your location; all the more reason to consider a Red Seal!

Have fun and stay safe working as a millwright in Canada.

Learn more about industrial mechanics / millwrights

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