Locksmiths help people and businesses secure valuable items from fire, vandalism, theft and other forms of damage or loss. These trained tradespeople understand the inner mechanism of locks and safes. They use this knowledge to repair, open and in some cases, design, locks and safes.
What Does a Locksmith Do?
Locksmiths are trained craftsmen who are skilled in opening and installing padlocks, door locks, deadbolts, safes, car locks and even electronic locks. Some of the skills locksmiths master include:
- Installing new locks
- Making copies of locks
- Creating master keys for a lock
- Opening locks and safes
- Installing and repairing electronic lock systems
Locksmiths may also consult with businesses and individuals to determine the locks or security system that best suits their needs.
Locksmiths may work for a security company or establish their own business as an independent contractor. Some locksmiths find full-time positions on a building maintenance crew, working for a hotel, casino or storage facility.
Steps to Becoming a Locksmith
Planning and specialized training can prepare you for the locksmith trade. Take these steps to learn how to become a locksmith:
- Earn a high school diploma or GED. Basic education provides a foundation for success in the workforce and the necessary qualification for many locksmith training programs and entry-level employment. You can prepare for your career as a locksmith by emphasizing classes in applied trades such as workshop, business, customer service and communication.
- Complete a locksmith training program. You can find locksmithing courses at vocational and trade schools, community college and through the Associated Locksmiths of America (ALOA). The ALOA even offers financial aid for qualified applicants. Military servicepeople have access to military locksmith training programs.
- Work as an apprentice to a professional locksmith. Hands-on experience can help you apply your classroom training and gain a foothold in the job market.
- Pass a certification exam. Many states require certification to work as a locksmith. Whether or not your region requires it, certification is an important step toward establishing your credibility and expertise as a professional locksmith. The ALOA and the Safe and Vault Technicians Association (SAVTA) offer various grades of certification for locksmiths. The basic exam qualifies you as a Registered Locksmith (RL).
As locking devices become more complex (mechanically and even electronically), the education requirements for locksmiths will increase. The ALOA offers over 100 courses in locksmithing, covering every aspect of the lock and safe trade. Courses cover advanced locking technologies such as automotive keys and electronic locks, transponders, keyless mechanical locks, high-security cylinder locks, automated door closers, exit devices and exit alarms, electronic access controls and more. Basic locksmith training, meanwhile, covers topics such as common lock hardware, combination lock operation and changing methods, key machine servicing, re-keying lock cylinders, troubleshooting lock malfunctions, designing and keying a master key system.
Locksmith training is designed to accommodate working professionals. Certification training programs may be completed in as little as a few weeks and are available online or on night and weekend schedules.
How to Become a GREAT Locksmith
After you learn how to become a locksmith, you're ready to expand your expertise and career profile beyond the basics. To become a great locksmith, tap into the following development resources:
Pursue advanced certification. Advance your training and credentials by pursuing higher level ALOA or SAVTA certifications.
- ALOA designations include:
- Certified Registered Locksmith
- Certified Professional Locksmith
- Certified Master Locksmith
- SAVTA offers:
- Certified Professional SafeTech
- Certified Master SafeTech
Complete specialized training. Specialized expertise can set you apart from other locksmiths. Specializations include:
- Automotive locksmith: ALOA offers a specialized Certified Automotive Locksmith (CAL) to indicate mastery of automotive locking technology.
- Home security locksmith: Home locksmiths are trained in installing and replacing door locks, deadbolts, personal safes and, in some cases, security alarms.
- Forensic locksmith: Forensic locksmiths can determine whether and how security has been breached, either through a building or automobile break-in or picked lock.
- Security consultants: Some locksmiths build specialty expertise as consultants, helping businesses, homeowners, schools and public buildings improve their security measures.
Courses and seminars help you learn how to become a locksmith with a specialized skill area.
Establish your own locksmith business. Many locksmiths advance their careers by setting up their own locksmithing business. Locksmithing contractors can establish relationships with local businesses and consumers. In addition to independence, locksmithing business owners have the potential to boost earnings through retail sales, expanded services and increased business volume. Successful locksmith business owners may hire a team of locksmiths and advance into a managerial role. A bachelor's degree in business administration can help you learn how to set up and manage your own business.
Ultimately, the best way to become a great locksmith is to build experience and professional connections in the field. Locksmithing offers a stable career path. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, locksmiths can expect average employment growth between 2008 to 2018. With locks and security technology growing more and more complicated, locksmiths can expect continued demand for their services. A training program can put you on the path to a career in this skilled trade.