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Locksmith

Job Spotlight - Locksmith and Safe Repair

Thinking about working as a Locksmith? There are plenty of reasons to get in this field of work including some job security and being able to help people that need it. Plus, the locksmith profession is one of the top jobs around for those who do not have a college degree. Doesn’t sound bad, does it?
 

Quick Facts: Locksmith and Safe Repair
2015 Median Pay (Annual) $39,160
Entry-Level Education At Least a high school diploma or GED
Recommended Education Post-secondary certificate
2014-2024 Projected Outlook -13% decline (decline)
2014 Number of Jobs 20,900
2014-2024 Estimated Employment Gains -100

Resource: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Locksmith and Safe Repair FAQs

This page was created to help aspiring Locksmiths find out what and how they can join this rewarding field. We have compiled a list of the most frequently asked questions about the profession of Locksmith. We hope that it will provide you with all the information you need to know and if not, contact us for more information on questions you may have about this intriguing line of work.

What is a Locksmith?

A person who is skilled in the art of a locksmith has the skills and tools to open almost any door or safe and save the day for those who need their help. If you have ever found yourself locked out of your house more than likely you have had to call a Locksmith to come open your door. What you don’t realize while they are opening your door is that this person had to go through a lot of training to fix your mistake in minutes.

The art of locksmithing is one of the oldest known professions dating back to the first days when locks were created. Locks and locking systems have changed dramatically since those days but a good Locksmith has kept up to date by not only being able to pick a lock but also open electronic locks, repair and install lock sets as well as make that extra key you hide next to your door.

Today Locksmiths are part of the security specialists working with some of the most advanced locking and security systems ever imagined. When not unlocking your car or house door, they can be found consulting with clients on the best security system for their home or business. They may also be found doing checks or repairing electronic lock systems at businesses or public buildings. A Locksmith is one job that there will always be a need for as long as there are locks that need work.

How to Get Started as a Locksmith

Quick Info: Working as a Locksmith
Find a locksmith program
• Formal education options include vocational schools and community colleges
• Some of the state and national locksmith associations have programs
• Apprenticeships are available but harder to find
Requirements for the states require licensing
• Background checks from U.S. Department of Justice and FBI
• Fingerprint scans
• Pay an application fee

Finding employment
• Look for jobs through the internet or talking with locksmith companies
• Consider getting extra training in specialized areas to increase opportunities
• Keep up with the latest technologies and trends

If you are looking to break-in to the business as a Locksmith, then you should know what the best ways to make it happen are. For the most part there are three different methods to get the proper education. The most typical methods are school, apprenticeship and on-the-job learning. Each of these methods have their pros and cons, so the choice is really in your court to figure out which works best for you and your personality.

Formal Education

One of the better options for education is to attend a community college and trade schools found around the country and earn either a certificate or diploma. Most of these programs are a combination of classroom and some lab work so you can get a greater understanding of the skills you will need to be successful.

In addition to the basic Locksmith courses, students will have the option to take more specialized classes. Specializations include automotive locksmithing, safe repair and installation, electronic lock systems, high security cylinder locks, electronic access and keyless locks and modern security systems. There are dozens upon dozens of courses that you can take and add certification credentials to your name and profession.

Pros

  • Potentially more rounded education
  • Post-secondary education can help with employment opportunities and promotions
  • Possible to enroll in an online program

Cons

  • Tuition fees can be more costly than other choices
  • Some programs take longer than other options
  • School isn’t for everyone
Locksmith Associations

If you have a hard time finding a trade school or a community college you feel comfortable with, you could always enroll in one of the certification programs offered by one of the Locksmith associations. You will find that there are both state and national associations that offer instruction for aspiring locksmiths. The type of education you will receive through one of these associations is in-line with the instruction you will get through a trade school or community college. The biggest difference is that in formal training you are more than likely to be exposed to the business side of the Locksmith trade.

One of the big advantages that some of these associations have over a community college or trade school is the sheer volume of specialty certifications one can earn. There are over 100 different types of specializations that one can pursue through these associations. Normally earned through continuing education courses, some of these extra certifications can be completed in a weekend or a few weeks.

Pros

  • Certification can open up new opportunities in jobs and promotions
  • Most programs are quick to finish
  • Associations are advocates for the profession

Cons

  • Classes may only be held a few times a year
  • Some programs overlook the business side
  • May have to travel for enrollment
Apprenticeships

Apprenticeships are one of the oldest methods available for Locksmiths. Someone who wants to learn the trade shadows an experienced Locksmith as they work. They will start out doing smaller jobs such as carrying and handing out the tools while working their way up. Apprentices get to see all ends of the business by watching customer interaction to the actual work done to complete the job.

Locksmith apprentices rarely are paid for their services unless it is for a bigger company. Besides the lack of pay for most, the tough part is finding an apprenticeship available. However, the upside is that you will not only get real-life experience at the position but also be able to build relationships with master Locksmiths in your area.

Pros

  • Learn directly from Master Locksmiths
  • In the field learning
  • Building relationships

Cons

  • May still have to take a class to earn certification
  • Will serve as a lackey for the start of apprenticeship
  • Can be let go at any time
Licensing

You may have to apply for and earn a license to work as a Locksmith in certain states. In order to qualify for a Locksmith license in most of these states you will need to undergo a criminal background check through the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) along with a fingerprint scan and an application fee.

Currently the states that require a license to be a locksmith are:

Continuing Education

You should be aware that you will most likely need to take some courses throughout your work as a Locksmith. By taking continuing education courses you will be keeping up to date with the latest changes in technologies as well as new styles that may become popular. Some state licenses do require a certain amount of continuing education each year to keep your license valid and active.

Specializations

Some Locksmiths go in to more specialized areas of their trade. A few of the most common include:

  • Automobile and motorcycle
  • Home security
  • Forensic
  • Security consultant
Our Recommendation
In our opinion, we believe that you should go through formal education at a trade school or community college or take the instruction from one of the state or national associations in order to work as a Locksmith. While apprenticeships may be the most common and oldest way to gain this type of experience, we feel that the benefits of a more formal education outweigh the traditional method. We feel that you will get a more-rounded and better learning experience through either the association or formal education route. This is true especially if you plan on opening your own business or if you want to become a specialist in a certain niche.

We do recommend that if you decide to go the apprenticeship route that you plan on taking a few classes, even if it is online. This will help you get a better grasp of the position and the duties that the job entails. Plus, it doesn’t hurt to have some other form of training involved.

Where Can I Find Locksmith Classes?

There are plenty of ways you can find Locksmith classes in your area depending on the method you choose such as school, one of the association programs or an apprenticeship. Probably the easiest way to find each of these methods is by searching the internet. You can also ask local locksmiths for their recommendations for the best programs. By talking to active locksmiths you may learn a bit more about the preferred methods of learning and what else to look for.

Let’s look at each type of method what you need to know.

Trade Schools or Community Colleges

As previously mentioned, you should do a search on the internet for programs that can be found near you. You will want to make sure that the trade school or community college has been accredited by either the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges (ACCSC) or the Associated Locksmiths of America. This accreditation will mean that the school or program has met the standard criteria and quality of education of the organization.

Associations

You may find some Locksmith programs held by the state or national associations for Locksmiths. Once again, you can find any of these association by doing a search on the internet. Two of the major national Locksmith associations that provide courses are:

Associated Locksmiths of America (ALOA)

Society of Professional Locksmiths (SOPL)

Apprenticeships

For those looking to go in to apprenticeship, you will most likely have to make a lot of calls around to area Locksmiths to find someone willing to let you shadow them. Another way is to keep an eye out in the local classifieds for employment opportunities offering apprenticeship opportunities. This method is a bit more difficult to score a position but it is a viable way to get started in the business.

Education Requirements

Before you can start your studies, there are some requirements you most likely need to meet depending on the state you live in. These requirements include:

  • 18 years old or older
  • High school diploma or GED
  • Clean criminal history
  • Pass a drug test

Are There Any Online Locksmith Courses?

Believe it or not online Locksmith courses are becoming more popular every year. The main reason for the growth in popularity is the ease and convenience that online schools have to offer over the more traditional campus-based programs. All you need to study is high-speed internet access, a computer and the will to learn.

When you start searching for trade schools or community colleges that offer online classes, you will probably notice a lot of familiar names. This is in part due to the overall popularity and increased awareness of distance learning. These programs have especially become popular with people who live too far away from a traditional campus or have certain responsibilities that do not allow them to go to school full-time.

Online Locksmith studies provide the same curriculum you would receive by going to a campus-based program. You will have the ability to learn about installing lock sets, making and cutting keys and other important topics that are part of the Locksmith job. The best part is that you get to learn at your own pace, any time of the day and anywhere you are as long as you have an internet connection.

How Long Does It Take to Complete Locksmith School?

What You Will Learn in Locksmith Courses
Types of classes you will take
• Understanding the mechanics of locks
• Key creation, duplication and identification
• How to pick a variety of locks
• Lock repair
• Legality and ethics of locksmithing
• Locksmith tools
• Disassembly and reassembly of locks
• Installation and removal of locks
• Security testing of locks

Most basic locksmith programs take about six months to complete before you earn your certification or diploma. The specialty certifications are slightly different depending on the complexity and technology that is needed to understand and work with. Certain high security access programs can take upwards of a few years to complete while some of the other specialty programs can be completed in a few days.

Those who decide to train through an apprenticeship can take anywhere from a few weeks to a year or so. The amount of time needed to complete an apprenticeship depends on the instructor and how motivated you or the instructor is on finishing the instruction.

What is a Good Locksmithing Job Description?

If you have ever been locked-out of your car or your home, a Locksmith can be the one that saves the day. But picking locks isn’t the only thing that those working in the lock smith profession knows how to do. Below you will you will find some of the typical jobs that fit under the Locksmith job description.

  • Unlock doors of homes, safes and cars
  • Adjust tumblers and springs in locks
  • Install or remove lock sets
  • Change the combination of locks by adding new tumblers
  • Cut new and duplicate keys for customers
  • Maintain confidential information on lock types, clients and security codes
  • Repair and maintain lock sets
  • Advise clients on new security measures
  • Customer service
  • Identify types of keys and locking systems
  • Assemble and disassemble locks to repair or replace worn parts
  • Creates labor and material estimates
  • Inspects and checks the security of a lock
  • Sets up and maintains master key systems
  • Mount door hardware including locks and closers
  • Open and install safes and vaults
  • Work on keyless locks and security systems

What is the Median Lock Smith Salary?

The Locksmith salary is fairly strong especially when you consider that you do not need to have a college degree to work in the field. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics released their latest wage report showing that the median annual salary for a Locksmith is $39,160.

locksmith salary

Your actual salary may be slightly different than the median salary of the entire nation. There are some factors that can heavily contribute to your real salary. These factors are:

  • Location
  • Experience
  • Reputation
  • Company or self-employed
  • Hours worked
  • Competition

What is the Outlook for Locksmith Services?

The latest projections for Locksmiths shows a decrease for all occupations. Currently the projection is a decrease of 3,100 new jobs through the year 2024 or a percentage decline of 15%. This number may be changed over the course of time due to increased security concerns and new lock technologies.

Locksmith Projected Job Growth

According to many Locksmiths, a locksmith with a good reputation and fair pricing is always in need in today’s world.

Are There Any Locksmith or Safe Repair Certifications?

Most states do not require Locksmiths to have certifications but you will find that most do earn these certifications to stay competitive with their rivals. There are quite a few certifications available including those in specialist positions such as automotive locks, safe repair and security systems. The Associated Locksmiths of America (ALOA) has listed four main designations or certifications to show ones’ professionalism and expertise. These certifications are listed below:

Registered Locksmith (RL)

  • Complete 12 eight hour classes or five to six day course program
  • Pass the final exam

Certified Registered Locksmith (CRL)

  • Must have passed 10 of the 26 categories of locksmithing
  • 2 specialties

Certified Professional Locksmith (CPL)

  • Achieved CRL level
  • 12 specialties

Certified Master Locksmith (CML)

  • Achieved CPL
  • Skilled in at least 90% of specialties

Safe Repair

Safe Repair is a specialty area that installs, repairs and replaces safes or vaults. The Safe and Vault Technicians Association (SAVTA) offer technical training at a yearly convention as well as two levels of certification.

Certified Professional Safe Tech (CPS)

  • Be able to demonstrate competency in 17 safe and vault categories
  • Must have a 70% or better on 325 question written exam

Certified Master Safe Technician (CMST)

  • Must hold a CPS
  • Must demonstrate advanced proficiency in 29 safe and vault categories
  • Must post a 70% or better score on 267 question written exam
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