How to Become a Locksmith

Locksmiths repair and replace locks and keys in vehicles, homes and businesses and they also advise clients about security.

Education

Many locksmiths will begin as apprentices and take courses to become master locksmiths. You can start your education as a locksmith by looking for certified schools listed on the Associated Locksmiths of America site.

To become a locksmith, you can also take courses via distance education, or attend courses in a college setting. Many locksmiths will pursue security certification by taking additional courses and training offered by Security CEU. You can also find courses, tools and material online to get started, with an investment of a few hundred dollars. On average, locksmiths make between eighteen and twenty-two dollars an hour, so your initial investment in training and tools should be paid back relatively quickly. If you are a custodian in a public setting, your employer may even pay for your initial locksmith training.

License and Certification

According to the Associated Locksmiths of America, fourteen states and two cities require that locksmiths have a license to operate. However, even if your state does not require a license, you will be competing with other licensed operators, publicly listed on the Associated Locksmiths of America site, for clients and contracts, so it is worthwhile to pursue certification.

Employers will also prefer to hire or train persons who do not have a criminal record, since locksmiths are involved in securing property and public safety. 

Skills

Locksmiths work with hand tools, such as drills, lock picks, pick guns, as well as key cutters and cutting tools. They also work with and install digital locks and high security locks. Manual dexterity and the ability to manipulate small objects and tools in sometimes hard to reach or confined settings is also required.

The job can also be physically demanding since you have to manipulate locks, lock mechanisms, doors of all shapes and sizes, sometimes stooping or in inadequate or poorly lit conditions. Problem solving skills, patience and the ability to deal with clients are also highly desired in this field.

Different Types of Locksmiths

Locksmiths can work in residential and commercial settings, usually in government, health care or hotel settings. These locksmiths will be involved in the installation of locks, in selecting and installing digital locks if necessary, as well as in rekeying locks and creating master keys. These locksmiths may be employed onsite by the company or may be self-employed contractors who are called onsite to deal with security issues when they arise.

Other locksmiths will have training to repair and enter automotive locks. These locksmiths often work in a mobile setting, taking their tools in a specially outfitted van to their clients. They may also be called out in all types of weather and at any time, day or night.

Locksmiths can also have additional training as vault and safe technicians and they may work for banks, the government or at research facilities to secure money or material. To become a vault or safe technician, you usually have to start out as a locksmith and then complete additional training to work in the field.