As tradesmen who install, maintain and repair manual and digital locks, locksmiths have a thorough knowledge of locking systems and related security devices, as well as life safety regulations. They also use their mastery of key cutting to make duplicate copies of household, business and automotive keys. A career as a locksmith is suitable for people with an aptitude for practical tasks.
The first step to becoming a locksmith is to pursue a locksmithing course, typically at a technical institute or college. Penn Foster Career School in Pennsylvania, for instance, offers a two-month locksmithing program that provides training in areas such as key identification, lock mechanisms, home and business security, and electronic security systems. You can also get started by joining a locksmith apprenticeship, where you will learn the craft from veteran locksmiths. Locksmith apprenticeships may take up to five years to complete.
Master Essential Qualities
You need basic blueprint-reading, complex problem-solving and computer skills to be an accomplished locksmith. You must be able to read and work from technical drawings and building plans, and troubleshoot faults in digital or electronic lock systems. Plug spinners, broken key extractors and drill jigs are some of the tools and accessories locksmiths use in their trade, so you need strong practical skills to set up and operate them properly. Because the job may involve working in tight spaces or on scaffolding, you need the physical stamina to endure such activities. A sound understanding of the National Fire Protection Association's life safety code is also essential, as you should know the locks that are permitted or prohibited for exit doors, stairwell doors and other types of doors.
Get Licensed and Obtain a Professional Certification
California and Virginia are some of the few states that regulate the practice of locksmiths. Although licensing requirements vary among these states, you typically need to be an American citizen or legal resident alien with a clean criminal background and professional locksmith training. Associated Locksmiths of America, or ALOA, also awards a range of credentials to locksmiths who meet certification requirements. As a beginning locksmith, you can obtain the Certified Registered Locksmith credential to gain professional credibility and enhance your employment prospects. Aspiring CRLs must successfully complete an examination on general locksmithing.
You can find job opportunities in locksmithing companies, security firms, as well as companies that sell or supply locks and related devices. After gaining several years of work experience and developing a strong business sense, you can establish your own locksmithing business. Alternatively, you can pursue additional courses in forensic locksmithing to work as a forensic locksmith in law enforcement agencies. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the mean annual wage for locksmiths and safe repairers was $39,820 in 2013.
- CareerPlanner.com: Locksmith
- Michigan Civil Service Commission: Job Specification: Locksmith
- National Fire Protection Association: NFPA 101: Life Safety Code
- Penn Foster Career School: Program Overview
- Associated Locksmiths of America: Why Should I Be Certified?
- Bureau of Labor Statistics: Occupational Employment Statistics: Locksmiths and Safe Repairers
- New York City Department of Criminal Justice Services: Locksmith License
- State of California Department of Consumer Affairs: Locksmith Fact Sheet
- Photo Credit kadmy/iStock/Getty Images
How to Become a Locksmith in Florida
Becoming a locksmith in Florida requires skills in changing and copying keys. As of 2010, Florida has not updated the law to...
How to Become a Bonded Locksmith
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the job growth for locksmiths is expected to be much faster than average (see Resources)....
How to Become a Locksmith in Texas
A career in locksmithing requires you to have knowledge and skill with mechanisms and the passion of working with your hands. Locksmiths...
How to Become a Locksmith in Georgia
A locksmith is a professional who works in the field of locking devices, such as deadbolts and keys. Locksmiths perform duties such...
How to Become a Car Locksmith
Each day, people across the globe lock themselves out of their cars. To solve this problem, they will call a car locksmith...
The Best Online Locksmith Schools
The locksmith online course from Penn Foster Career School offers a guide to identifying key-and-lock mechanisms and the methods required for creating...
How to Learn Locksmithing
Locksmithing is a high demand career that provides a good income and job security. Locksmiths have a variety of career options, from...
How to Become a Locksmith in California
You can become a locksmith in California through an on-the-job training program or through a locksmith certification program, where you will learn...
How to Get an Apprenticeship to Become a Locksmith
Becoming a locksmith---like any other career---takes years of hard work and dedication. There are two basic paths to choose from in starting...