Locksmiths are trained craftsmen who are skilled in opening and installing padlocks, door locks, deadbolts, safes, car locks and even electronic locks. Some locksmiths also design locks and safes. Locksmiths may consult with businesses and individuals to determine the locks or security system that best suits their needs.
Day in the Life of a Locksmith
A locksmith 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. Depending on the nature of a locksmith's position or specialty, a typical day might involve any of the following tasks:
- Installing new locks
- Making copies of locks
- Creating master keys for a lock (or locks) and maintaining records for the building owner
- Cutting new or duplicate keys, using impressions, key-cutting machines or code-key machines
- Unlocking cars and other vehicles
- Opening locks and safes
- Repairing or replacing worn, damaged, or defective mechanical parts
- Installing and repairing electronic lock systems
- Assembling electrical components, subsystems or systems
Important Characteristics for Locksmiths
Successful locksmiths possess characteristics and skills such as good manual dexterity, good hand-eye coordination and mechanical ability. They must also be able to focus and pay close attention to detail. A customer-service mindset and excellent communication skills are also valuable.
The path to becoming a locksmith may involve more than locksmith classes but generally is as follows:
- 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 courses and entry-level employment.
- Complete a locksmith training program. You can find locksmith training courses at vocational and trade schools, community colleges and through the Associated Locksmiths of America (ALOA). Coursework may be completed in as little as a few weeks and can be available online or on night and weekend schedules. People in military service can have access to military locksmith training programs.
- Work as an apprentice to a professional locksmith. Hands-on experience can help you apply your locksmith 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).
- Obtain a locksmith license. Requirements vary by state, and even by jurisdiction within a state. In some states, individuals need to complete an apprenticeship to be eligible to obtain their own license or pass an exam. The ALOA website provides information on state licensing laws and regulations.
- Earn a specialized certification. After working in the trade for a while, locksmiths can boost their career by earning specialized certifications beyond what is taught in locksmith classes. Designations available through the ALOA in conjunction with the SAVTA 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)
- Summary Report for Locksmiths and Safe Repairers, O*NET OnLine, https://www.onetonline.org/link/summary/49-9094.00
- Associated Locksmiths of America, http://www.aloa.org
- Safe and Vault Technicians Association, SAVTA.org