Millwright or Electromechanician

Millwrights or electromechanicians install and maintain heavy machinery used in industry. They perform maintenance work on production machines, electrically driven machines and electronic control gear.

The work is both mechanical and electrical. It involves dismantling, fault detection, repairing and in some cases, the manufacturing of parts, as well as the maintenance, reconstruction and installation of machinery.

With modern developments toward automation, this trade also requires knowledge of electronics as applied to the control of heavy electrically driven equipment. Millwrights should therefore have a thorough knowledge of the manufacturing of machine components.
Fault detection is one of the major responsibilities, as well as the installation of new machinery. In most cases the machine has to be dismantled before it is possible to determine where the fault lies. As it is often not possible to replace the defective component immediately, an electromechanician or millwright must be able to make temporary repairs, so that the machine can be used until the correct parts are available. This requires specialised knowledge of fitting. They must therefore have a thorough knowledge of the manufacturing of machined components.

Another important task of electromechanicians or millwrights is electrical installation. They dismantle electrical motors and test for faults, check wiring, as well as determine power output. This includes other functions such as the coupling of cables. Automation also requires skill in electronics as it is used in controlling heavy, electrically powered equipment.

Millwrights usually work indoors in the production sections of factories and industries. Work settings may range from modern and well-ventilated to hot, noisy and dirty, depending on the employer and the task. Some millwrights have to travel, especially those who work for construction companies, and therefore work in a variety of settings on site. Millwrights sometimes have to work long hours under difficult conditions and great tension to find and repair faults.

How to Enter

Schooling & School Subjects

Grade 9 Certificate
Some employers prefer higher qualifications

What to Study

There are 3 ways to qualify as a registered artisan:

1. An apprenticeship is a fixed contract between company and apprentice, ranging in duration from between 18 months and 4 years. At the end of the contract, the apprentice writes a trade test leading to professional certification.

2. A learnership is a structured learning programme ranging from about a year to 3 years. A learnership comprises theoretical and practical training. Practical training is conducted on site (on the premises of the organisation). This has the advantage that the learner gets experience whilst training.

3. TVET colleges offer theoretical training to prospective artisans via the new National Certificate Vocational (NCV). During this 3-year programme (levels 2 to 4), learners complete a school-leaving certificate (NCV) similar to the new National Senior Certificate (NSC) in schools. They are also exposed to a practical workshop component.

All learners are required to complete a practical internship under the supervision of an experienced artisan. As an alternative to doing the full qualification, a learner can apply to do a skills programme at a TVET College.

Skills programmes are short practical hands-on courses.

For more information about qualifications and skills programmes, contact your nearest TVET College. TVET Colleges are accredited and funded by a SETA (Sector Education and Training Authority) such as MerSETA or ChietaSETA. They also receive bursary funding through the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) for the NCV programme.


  • machinery manufacturers
  • manufacturers of transportation equipment
  • manufacturers of metal, paper, steel, and chemical products
  • construction industry
  • manufacturers and installers of electrical equipment
  • government departments and municipalities
  • mines
  • Mittal Steel, Eskom, Sasol, CSIR, NECSA
  • self-employment, with enough experience and capital, can start own business

Further Information

The Steel & Engineering Industries Federation
of South Africa (SEIFSA)
P O Box 1338
Johannesburg, 2000
Tel: (011) 298-9400 Fax: (011) 298-9500

Getting Started

  • try to obtain vacation or part-time work as a millwright’s helper
  • consult the registrar of manpower training concerning learnership programmes that may be available in your area
  • arrange to speak to a millwright or electromechanician about this type of career

Programmes by Study Institutions


Related Occupations