A locksmith knows how to install a good locking system and to repair or fix one that is broken. Repair may be needed after a lock has become old or faulty, or after a burglary has occurred at a residential property or retail business and a lock damaged as part of forced entry. The skills of a locksmith may be required for other needs, too, such as picking a lock to provide entry - like to a home -- after a key has been lost, or even to help install alarm systems and provide greater overall security. Some locksmiths also know how to install or repair safes and how to open a safe after a key has been lost or a combination forgotten or misplaced.

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Locksmith Schools and Programs

A high school diploma or equivalent is generally needed to enter a locksmith and safe repairer career. Individuals also may be able to find apprentice programs or complete a certificate or diploma program at a community college. In a college program, they may learn about:

  • Keys and locks
  • Pin tumbler locks and locksmithing tools
  • Lock designs and functions
  • High-security locks
  • Automotive locksmithing

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), most locksmiths also prepare for this career with short on-the-job training. Because the work of locksmiths is becoming more sophisticated, additional training may be necessary in order to find the best employment prospects. Training programs include work both in the classroom and in the field, handling real locksmith work. Once you complete your classroom program, you may need to complete an apprenticeship before you can work as a full-fledged locksmith.

Locksmith Training and Courses

Typically, locksmith training lasts just weeks--sometimes even a few days--and upon completion, you are traditionally granted a diploma or certificate. The Associated Locksmiths of America (ALOA) oversees locksmith programs and awards graduates the Registered Locksmith (RL) designation, upon their successful completion of an exam. Locksmiths who wish to become specialists in their field can also pursue additional certification.

While every locksmith program is different, there are some general topics that you can expect to cover in your training. These include:

  • Identifying and making keys and lock mechanisms
  • Residential locks and keys
  • Cabinetry and furniture locks
  • Automotive locks systems
  • Key machine service and adjustment
  • Lock service and repair
  • Lock and security systems for home, business, industrial or detention locations
  • Picking locks
  • Door hardware service
  • Electronic security devices--installation, maintenance and repair
  • Panic devices and electric lock hardware

Your training may also include how to set up or run a locksmith shop, including inventory, equipment and best business practices. Locksmiths should also possess other skills, such as good manual dexterity, good hand-eye coordination and excellent communication skills.

Locksmith Certification and Licensing

Certification is available through the Associated Locksmiths of America (ALOA) in conjunction with the Safe and Vault Technicians Association (SAVTA). Applicants must pass an exam, generally receiving at least a 70 percent, to be eligible for certification. Some certifications include:

  • Certified Automotive Locksmith (CAL)
  • Certified Registered Locksmith (CRL)
  • Certified Professional Locksmith (CPL)
  • Certified Master Locksmith (CML)

The SAVTA designations include:

  • Certified Professional SafeTech (CPS)
  • Certified Master SafeTech (CMST)

Licensure requirements vary state to state. In some states, individuals may need to complete an apprenticeship to be later able to obtain their own license or pass an exam. As well, some jurisdictions within states may have their own licensing requirements. Additionally, in states where licensing is required, applicants often need to provide evidence of insurability, pass a criminal background check, and pay a fee. The ALOA website provides a list of links regarding state licensing laws and regulations.

Resources for Locksmiths

  • Associated Locksmiths of America
  • The Institutional Locksmith Magazine
  • Locksmith Ledger
  • Institutional Locksmiths Association
  • The National Locksmith


  1. Locksmiths and Safe Repairers, Projections Central. http://www.projectionscentral.com/Projections/LongTerm
  2. Locksmiths and Safe Repairers, O*NET OnLine, 2015. http://www.onetonline.org/link/details/49-9094.00#ToolsTechnology
  3. Locksmiths and Safe Repairers, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Employment Statistics, May 2014. http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes499094.htm
  4. Locksmithing Program, Ashworth College. https://www.ashworthcollege.edu/career-diplomas/locksmithing/curriculum/
  5. State Licensing Laws, Associated Locksmiths of America. http://www.aloa.org/legislation/aloa-legislation.html
  6. Why Should I Be Certified? Associated Locksmiths of America. http://www.aloa.org/certification-and-testing/pdfs/CertificationInformation.pdf

Metro Areas Sorted by Total Employment for
Locksmiths and Safe Repairers

Listed below are the 10 largest metro areas based on the total number of people employed in Locksmiths and Safe Repairers jobs , as of 2016

Metro Area Total Employment Annual Mean Salary
Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington 1,010 $44,500
Miami-Fort Lauderdale-West Palm Beach 880 $35,710
Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim 610 $57,710
Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land 400 $41,580
Orlando-Kissimmee-Sanford 350 $36,320
San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara 350 $56,660
Baltimore-Columbia-Towson 280 $47,020
San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward 240 $52,910
San Diego-Carlsbad 230 $46,010
Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario 230 $53,450
Total Employment for Locksmiths - Top 5 Cities Nationwide
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Salaries for Locksmiths - Top 5 Cities Nationwide
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Total employment and salary for professions similar to locksmiths

Most Popular Industries for
Locksmiths and Safe Repairers

These industries represent at least 1% of the total number of people employed in this occupation.

Industry Total Employment Percent Annual Median Salary
Office Services And Staffing 14,300 78% $32,130
Education 1,460 8% $42,930
Government 900 4% $47,000
Hospital 380 2% $46,510
Durable Goods Wholesale 370 2% $35,470
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Results:  9
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  • HVAC Technician
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We have some additional detailed pages at the state level for Locksmiths and Safe Repairers.

Numbers in parentheses are counts of relevant campus-based schools in the state; online schools may also be available.

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