Earning a great living doesn’t always require a college education. Entering the right trade and getting proper formal training can set you up for a fruitful professional and financial life. So if you want to learn how to become a locksmith, keep reading.
As a locksmith, you can pick your hours and meet and help interesting people. However, like plumbing, locksmithing will also sometimes require you to provide emergency on-call services.
That said, helping people in difficult situations as a locksmith may give you a sense of accomplishment. It may also provide you with a sense of pride and earn a great living.
In this post, you’ll learn what locksmiths do, how much they earn, and how to become a locksmith.
What Does A Locksmith Do?
Locksmiths do a lot more than cut keys and unlock doors. The job also involves installing and repairing locks on windows, car doors, and safes.
Throughout your career as a locksmith, you will need to provide consultation services to home and business owners who want to improve their property’s security. Different customers have different needs. Therefore, you will either need to recommend the correct type of locks or create a lock yourself.
Consulting will require you to consider the customer’s requirements and budget. Giving consultation to a business typically requires more diligence than providing consultation to a homeowner.
As mentioned earlier, you will sometimes be called at unusual hours to open a door lock for someone who’s lost their keys. On these visits, you will need to use various techniques to get the door open.
It is also critical for you to give your customers a fair quote and professionally process the payment for your services.
Some locksmiths specialize in safe-making, while others help individuals deal with protecting against break-ins. Experienced locksmiths are among the first professionals called upon after a break-in. You will need to help fortify the home or business’s security typically by installing better locks.
The main door can never be your only focus. You must work to secure all points of entry — including windows and garages.
In 2020, the average salary of a licensed locksmith was $46,240 (as reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics). Experienced locksmiths working with the federal government earned the highest salary in 2020, earning an annual salary of $59,420.
If you want to become a locksmith, working with the government is one of the best ways to make money. However, if you gain enough experience and establish your own business, the sky is the limit to how much you can make. You could also choose to work as a contractor for a high salary.
If you’re willing to move, you could make more money. This is because licensed locksmiths are paid higher salaries in certain states.
For example, being in the locksmith trade in the District of Columbia could fetch you as much as $64,250 annually. Locksmiths in Washington, Hawaii, Illinois, and Massachusetts earn upwards of $56,000 per the latest report by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Should You Become A Locksmith?
While entering the locksmith trade can be lucrative and professionally satisfying, there’s a chance locksmithing may not be for you. This is especially true if you decide to be self-employed.
These professionals provide a variety of services for both private and public properties. Besides being called to install locks, you may be required to create, repair, and recommend locks. These recommendations will be based on the customer’s unique requirements.
But what’s most vital for you to remember is that individuals, families, business owners, employees, and employers depend on your services to remain safe. Understanding locksmithing from this perspective is critical before deciding to pursue it as a career.
To understand whether you’re suitable for the profession, ask yourself these questions:
- Am I ready to serve customers outside of my regular working hours?
- Are the intricacies of becoming a locksmith intriguing to me?
- Am I mentally and financially prepared to complete a locksmith training course?
- Am I willing to go through criminal background checks regularly?
- Can I afford to pay for the materials required for the job?
- Are there trustworthy companies that will hire me in my area or in the state I want to live in?
If you are self-motivated, have a willingness to learn about the trade, possess the ability to remain punctual, and rarely struggle with autonomy, becoming a locksmith may be your path to financial success.
Having high manual agility and solid critical thinking skills will help propel your career. The best thing about being a locksmith is that you get the opportunity to get better every day.
That said, just like any other career, working very long hours and developing a business sense is the only way to thrive as a locksmith.
How to Become A Locksmith
Regardless of what state you’re in, you will need to complete training and learn the required skills before you can get into locksmithing. Training requirements vary from state to state. Some states require you to earn a locksmith license before you can practice.
Some districts and counties also have specific training requirements and do not allow locksmiths to practice if they don’t meet them.
States like North Carolina, Texas, and California have some of the more stringent training requirements. However, if you become a qualified locksmith in a state like Texas, homeowners and businesses will see you as a more trustworthy candidate.
You can become a locksmith in four steps:
#1 Complete Locksmith Training
You do not need to have a college education to become a locksmith. However, having a high school diploma is a prerequisite for enrolling in a training program in all states. If you do not have a high school diploma, you can earn an equivalent GED and enroll in a locksmith training program.
Vocational schools and local community colleges offer courses that help you learn the skills you need to become a professional locksmith. The things you will learn include but are not limited to:
- Lock repair
- Installing locks
- Workings of safes and vaults
- Key identification and key making
- Workings of security systems and master key systems
- Mechanisms of residential, commercial, and various other types of locks
You can choose to get trained in person or enroll in an online or mail-in training course. You must bear in mind that since you get the opportunity to put newly acquired knowledge to practice in an in-person course, enrolling in those is often considered the best way to train to be a locksmith.
However, some online training courses give students tools that they can use to practice at home. Enrolling in a program that fits your schedule and is within your budget is always the right way to get into locksmithing.
Besides completing training, you will also be required to pass periodical assessments even if you enroll in one of the many popular online programs. Depending on the program you enroll in, you will spend between a few months to a couple of years to become a locksmith.
In states that require locksmiths to be certified, training programs typically lead to licensure.
Visiting the Associated Locksmiths of America (ALOA) website is the best way to find endorsed training options. The site will also help you learn about the latest training requirements imposed by your state.
#2 Complete An Apprenticeship (Optional)
Many locksmithing professionals with a certification prefer completing an apprenticeship to gain the additional hands-on experience they need before getting a job. You can choose to work as a trainee at a company or work under a trade-qualified locksmith.
Bear in mind that not all locksmiths take on apprentices. However, many do since good help is hard to find. Some businesses owners will require you to pay for your apprenticeship while others will not.
This is because having some hands-on experience is a requirement for most jobs, and getting an apprenticeship is often the only way to start a career in locksmithing.
Whether you end up paying for your apprenticeship or not, make sure you’re connecting with an established business or a licensed locksmith to get the best training and experience.
After you complete your formal training, you can get your locksmith license.
#3 Obtain A Locksmith License
Regardless of if you end up working under a business or decide to be self-employed, clients will always want to make sure you are qualified and reliable. Doing their due diligence is essential for clients because they discuss sensitive information and give you access to high-security areas.
Voluntarily getting a certification and earning a license indicates to clients that you meet the high standards of training and experience expected. Many states require locksmiths to obtain a license before they can practice the trade.
Some states also require locksmithing experts to pass a criminal background check to reduce the risk of fraud. But most states only require locksmiths to pass a licensing examination.
In some jurisdictions, certified locksmiths cannot take up an apprenticeship unless they get a license first. To get an apprentice license in these states, individuals are required to pass a criminal history background check.
Locksmithing professionals can obtain additional certifications to gain more knowledge or make clients feel at greater ease. The ALOA offers several certifications for locksmiths of all levels of expertise.
You will first obtain the “Certified Registered Locksmith” designation, and you can then study further to become a “Certified Professional Locksmith” or a “Certified Master Locksmith.”
The governing body also offers designations like “Certified Automotive Locksmith” and “Certified Master Safe Tech” to those who complete the training requirements.
#4 Work For a Company
After getting your license and obtaining any additional certification you desire, deciding to be self-employed may not be a good idea. This is because clients do not trust new locksmiths with the security information of their homes and businesses.
Furthermore, improving your skills and developing a business sense is critical before deciding to cater to clients independently. Learning about business operations and administration is critical to the success of your venture. You will learn these skills only after you spend a few years in the industry.
Large security companies that provide 24/7 locksmithing and repair services are a great place to start your career. However, you can also choose to work with smaller hardware businesses and security companies if you find the pay and hours satisfactory.
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Frequently Asked Questions
How long does it take to become a locksmith?
It can take anywhere from three months to a few years for you to become a locksmith. It mostly depends on your commitment to your career in locksmithing.
Some states require you to go through years of formal education and training before allowing you to practice the trade. On average, though, you can expect to become a locksmith in two years.
How is the job outlook for locksmiths?
Locksmithing has changed drastically over the last three decades. With the technologies in the sphere of physical security growing rapidly, the field can be expected to evolve more in the coming years.
For now, though, enrolling in training programs and passing certification requirements has become the norm.
Compared to other professions, locksmithing is slow-growing. But new locksmiths should have no problem finding work at large 24-hour companies initially. Finding work as a locksmith only gets easier as time passes.
How to find a locksmith job?
Finding work as a locksmith has gotten a lot easier over time. You can visit job listing websites and apply for a job. However, you must remember to update your resume and indicate your new education, skills, and training before you hit submit.
When you get called in for an interview, make sure you research the company and practice the standard questions and answers. Also, brush up on your specialized training since the interviewer may ask you specific questions to test your knowledge.
You now have a decent idea of what being a locksmith is like, and you’ve also learned how to become a locksmith.
Your next step is to find a locksmith training program in your area and learn the skills you need for the job. After completing training, establishing a career can be as simple as earning your locksmith license and getting hired by a local business.