How Do I Become a Professional Locksmith?

Research what it takes to become a locksmith. Learn about job duties, education requirements, employment outlook and average wages to find out if this is the career for you. Schools offering Locksmithing degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Is A Professional Locksmith?

Locksmiths are trained to understand how locking mechanisms work. They repair and replace locks or lock parts when they don't work properly. Locksmiths also cut keys for locks, so they need to know how to use key cutting machines. When someone locks themselves out of their car or house, a locksmith is called to help them gain access. According to O*Net, as of 2015, 61% of locksmiths had a high school diploma, while 26% had a postsecondary certificate. Locksmiths often learn their trade through other locksmiths who are established members of professional organizations for locksmiths.

Degree Required High school diploma or equivalent
Licensure/Certification Vocational programs and certifications are available
Key Responsibilities Repair and open locks, copy keys, install and repair safes
Job Growth (2014-2024) -2%**
Average Salary (2015) $41,270*

Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, **O*Net

What Are the Job Duties of a Locksmith?

As a locksmith, you are mainly responsible for installing, modifying and repairing locking mechanisms for automobiles, homes and businesses. You may also make duplicate keys or rekey locks for lost or stolen keys. For customers who have accidentally locked themselves out of their property, you can be called upon to find the best way to pick, bypass or disassemble that lock. Depending on your level of experience, you may also install and service electronic security systems.

Consider Your Education Options

As an aspiring locksmith, you may want to develop good hand-eye coordination and spatial reasoning abilities early on. You can pursue high school courses in mathematics, mechanical drawing, basic electronics and physics to hone these skills. You may need to have a high school diploma for some entry-level locksmith positions.

According to the Associated Locksmiths of America (ALOA), you can acquire professional, on-the-job training by working with an experienced locksmith (www.aola.org). Depending on your chosen area of expertise, your training can take anywhere from a few months to four years to complete. You may also want to make sure that your mentor possesses a locksmith certification or license.

You may also take locksmith training courses at a community college or technical school before or during your on-the-job training. These programs can typically be completed in several months, and may cover key identification, lockpicking, combination locks, safe penetration, key duplication, automotive locksmithing and master key systems. Alternatively, you can use these courses to meet continuing education requirements if you decide to earn a locksmith certification.

Do I Have to Be Licensed or Certified?

You may need to be licensed as a practicing locksmith is some states, which usually requires passing a background check and an examination. Even in states without licensing requirements, you may want to earn a locksmith certification to establish your credibility and help your chances of career advancement. Professional locksmith organizations, such as the ALOA, offer multiple levels of certification. You are required to pass a written examination for each level and meet continuing education requirements to maintain your certification (www.aola.org).

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

Automotive glass installers and repairers do not need postsecondary training. They may work in a shop or travel to their clients to perform repairs to windshields and windows, or replace damaged glass. Their job is similar to the work locksmiths do because they are often required to travel to the client, and they must assess the problem and determine how to address it effectively. Small engine mechanics can also learn through on-the-job training. They assess issues with small engines, such as those found in snowmobiles, lawnmowers or chainsaws. They then conduct the necessary repairs. Like locksmiths, they spend a lot of time interacting with clients to determine the issue, and must assess the problem with the mechanical equipment before conducting repairs.

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