Become a Locksmith: Education Requirements and Career Info

Learn how to become a locksmith. Research the career requirements, training information and experience required for starting a career in locksmithing.

Should I Become a Locksmith?

Locksmiths make duplicate keys, repair various types of locks and install new locks at homes and businesses. They often assist people who have locked themselves out of their vehicles or residences. Self-employed individuals may need to spend significant efforts advertising their services and seeking new customers. They often work on call to meet clients' emergency needs.

Career Requirements

Degree Level No degree is required, completion of a training program or apprenticeship is necessary
Degree Field Locksmithing
Experience 3 months to 4 years of experience, depending on the sector of the profession
Licensure and Certification A state-issued license is required in some states, voluntary professional certifications are available
Key Skills Dexterity, hand-eye coordination, spatial perception, mechanical and mathematical ability, knowledge of lock components and ability to use locksmithing tools
Salary $38,600 (2014 BLS median salary for locksmiths and safe repairers)

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Associated Locksmiths of America (ALOA)

Step 1: Gain Training in Locksmithing

Aspiring locksmiths must undergo formal training in order to learn the skills necessary to succeed in this career. Training is commonly available through certificate or diploma programs offered by community colleges, vocational schools or state locksmith associations. Training teaches student locksmiths how to properly pick a variety of locks, repair locks in residential and commercial buildings, make keys and duplicate keys, understand the mechanics of locks and test security of locks after installation. Courses in specialized sectors of locksmithing are also available, such as motorcycle and automotive locksmithing. Some training programs may include courses on the legal and business aspects of locksmithing.

As an alternative to attending a training program, an aspiring locksmith can gain training through an apprenticeship under an experienced locksmith. Apprenticeships are typically unpaid, but enable locksmith trainees to learn the technical, legal and business aspects of locksmithing directly from practicing professionals.

The ALOA reported that training for locksmiths can take as little as three months to as long as four years to complete, depending on the complexity of the sector in which they intend to work. For example, a general locksmith specializing in lock picking may require less training than a locksmith specializing in home security and more complex lock systems.

Step 2: Gain Work Experience

Some states require locksmiths to work full-time for at least one year at a licensed locksmith business before obtaining a license of their own. Aspiring locksmiths can contact local locksmith businesses to find employment or work for the business through which their apprenticeship was completed, if applicable.

Step 3: Obtain a Locksmith License

Not every state requires locksmiths to obtain licensure, but many do to ensure consumer safety and professional standards within the industry. While the licensing requirements vary by state, most require locksmiths to submit an application, pass a background check and submit their fingerprints to state and federal fingerprint databases. Consult with local locksmith associations or government agencies to learn the specific requirements for state licensure.

Step 4: Earn Professional Certification

Several levels of voluntary professional certification are available to locksmiths through the ALOA; Registered Locksmith (RL), Certified Registered Locksmith (CRL), Certified Professional Locksmith (CPL) and Certified Master Locksmith (CML). An exam exists for each of these certifications, and applicants must pass each exam with a score of 70% or higher to earn the certification. Holding certification can help a locksmith stand out as a professional in the field and can help establish credibility with customers.

Step 5: Continue Education

While continuing education is not required, locksmiths can benefit from taking advantage of advanced training and educational opportunities offered by lock manufacturers, locksmith associations and locksmithing schools. Continuing education can help a locksmith expand their area of expertise while staying current on technologies and laws in the field. For certified locksmiths seeking to earn a higher level of certification, such as a CPL looking to become a CML, continuing education can enable them to learn the necessary skills needed to pass the certification exam.

Step 6: Join a Professional Organization

In addition to the ALOA, many states have their own professional locksmithing organizations. Membership in a professional organization can provide a locksmith with a number of benefits, including access to continuing education options, computer-based testing, legislative representation, industry bonding, insurance options and more. These resources can be used to expand a customer base and strengthen business operations.

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