How to Become a Locksmith: Complete Information + Step-by-Step Guide

If you love helping people, you will certainly feel appreciated and fulfilled as a locksmith.

If you are a night owl and don’t mind taking the late night call of someone who is locked out of their car or the call from a mom who has locked herself out of the house, a career as a locksmith might be a perfect fit.

Locksmiths enjoy problem solving by taking apart something that does not work, fixing it, and putting it back together.

A career as a locksmith allows you to use your creative, curious nature to earn a living!

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Job Description: What Does a Locksmith Do

A locksmith has a job that includes a wide variety of tasks.

They duplicate keys of every kind, install and perform routine maintenance and repair on lock systems in many different types of buildings, and assist people who lock themselves out of their cars or homes.

Some locksmiths even get involved in the installation and maintenance of electronic alarms and security systems.

Many work settings are available for a locksmith—real estate company, security system company, locksmith company, private businesses, and many other locations.

Duties

  • Maintain and repair locks and lock systems
  • Operate power tools needed to install and repair locks
  • Unlock safes and other secure devices when the code or key is not available
  • Meet customers at their point of need
  • Copy keys and maintain appropriate records
  • Duplicate existing keys
  • Rekey locks when people lose their keys or their keys are stolen

Locksmith Salary: How Much Does It Pay

The beginning locksmith usually earns minimum wage.

As they gain experience, the pay increases. The average salary for a locksmith is $41,270.

Locksmiths often work weekends, holidays, and after hours.

Working beyond a normal work day may provide an opportunity to earn a higher rate of pay.

Also, the work environment the locksmith selects affects the salary.

Many locksmith consider themselves to be self-employed while other work for others.

Those locksmiths employed in the aerospace products and parts manufacturing industry earned the highest salary.

Locksmiths employed in companies who sell and work with hardware earned the lowest salary.

Average National Salary: $46,504

$30K
10%
$35K
25%
$46K
50%
$55K
75%
$59K
90%
*Salary information last updated 2018

Average Annual Salary by State

State Avg. Annual Salary
Alabama $45,717
Alaska $55,352
Arizona $46,202
Arkansas $40,808
California $55,315
Colorado $51,417
Connecticut $54,343
Delaware $49,556
Florida $46,400
Georgia $44,316
Hawaii $54,607
Idaho $43,198
Illinois $52,570
Indiana $47,120
Iowa $45,980
Kansas $44,320
Kentucky $44,320
Louisiana $44,020
Maine $46,520
Maryland $52,021
Massachusetts $52,769
Michigan $50,840
Minnesota $50,940
Mississippi $41,320
Missouri $46,401
Montana $44,180
Nebraska $43,400
Nevada $52,101
New Hampshire $51,145
New Jersey $56,241
New Mexico $43,767
New York $53,760
North Carolina $45,980
North Dakota $46,228
Ohio $48,400
Oklahoma $41,910
Oregon $50,408
Pennsylvania $50,873
Rhode Island $51,854
South Carolina $46,376
South Dakota $42,766
Tennessee $45,606
Texas $46,678
Utah $45,245
Vermont $48,431
Virginia $50,460
Washington $53,258
West Virginia $45,025
Wisconsin $50,226
Wyoming $46,508

Becoming a Locksmith: Step-by-Step Guide

Step 1Locksmith Training

Locksmiths typically obtain formal education to learn what is needed to succeed.

Community colleges, vocational schools, and locksmith associations commonly provide certificate programs.

Alternatively, a person who wants to become a locksmith can gain education and training by participating in an apprenticeship program.

These programs provide an opportunity for a new locksmith to work under the supervision of a seasoned professional.

Their supervisor knows about not only the practical aspects of the jobs but also the professional and legal sides as well.

Step 2Obtain Work Experience

State laws regarding the required work experience period vary.

However, most states requires one year of full-time work experience at a locksmith shop in order to obtain appropriate license.

When looking for a place to get work experience, the locksmith might be able to continue at a business where they completed their apprenticeship.

If that is not possible, they need to apply at local locksmith shops.

Step 3Get a License to Become a Locksmith

In order to ensure that professional ideals are upheld and that customers’ safety is held to the highest standard, most states have some licensure requirements in place.

Even though requirements vary by state, most states require a detailed application, a background check, and the submission of fingerprints.

A local governmental agency can provide the details for each state.

Step 4Qualify for a Professional Certification

The American Locksmith of America (ALOA) offers several locksmith professional certifications.

The levels of licensure include:

  • Registered Locksmith (RL)
  • Certified Registered Locksmith (CRL)
  • Certified Professional Locksmith (CPL)
  • Certified Master Locksmith (CML)

Each level of certification requires that the examinee pass a certification exam with a 70% accuracy or higher.

Step 5Participate in Continuing Education

When working as a locksmith, you will not be required to obtain continuing education.

However, locksmiths gain knowledge and skills by taking advantage of training.

Participation in continuing education helps locksmiths learn other areas of their career.

Also, continuing education provides information about current technology and new laws that affect the locksmith.

Additionally, some locksmiths use the continuing education to allow them an opportunity to earn a higher designation.

Step 6Become a Member of a Professional Organization

The main professional organization for locksmiths is the ALOA.

Some states have professional organizations for locksmiths who work in that particular area.

Some benefits of participating in a professional organization include continuing education opportunities, representation to lawmakers, group insurance benefits, and participation in a network of career professionals.


Locksmithing Education & Requirements

The first step in earning the appropriate education for a career as a locksmith is to earn a high school diploma or GED.

In most states, this is the minimum level of acceptable education.

Working as a locksmith will require much more knowledge and skill than a high school diploma provides, but this provides a good foundation for further education and training.

Following the earning of a high school diploma, you might want to check with community colleges and technical schools in your area for locksmith training courses.

The courses offered in this program will cover topics such as identifying keys, opening locks without a key, code, or combination, opening locked safes, duplicating keys, opening car doors without a key, and maintaining a master key system.

In addition to or instead of formal education, the ALOA suggests that on-the-job training is beneficial.

The expertise of an experience, professional locksmith is very helpful.

Most education and training programs last from a few months to four years.

An alternative path to formal education and training is an apprenticeship.

When completing an apprenticeship, an unpaid worker participates in on-the-job-training as a locksmith.

The apprentice gets first-hand experience with the technical aspects of working as a locksmith as well as the business aspects of the career.

Those locksmiths who agree to serve as mentors to an apprentice should hold a professional certificate or license.

Video About The Career


Certification & Licensing for Locksmiths

State requirements will differ, but locksmiths in most states must get a state-issued license before they are able to work as a locksmith.

While the license proves the ability of the locksmith and may be useful in obtaining employment, it also protects the consumer and ensures that the locksmith maintains an adequate level of professionalism.

The requirements of receiving a license as a locksmith include an application, a background check, and filing of your fingerprints with both federal and state registries.

Following licensure, a locksmith may desire certification as well.

The Associated Locksmiths of America (ALOA) offers four certifications.

The ALOA certifications include Registered Locksmith (RL), Certified Registered Locksmith (CRL), Certified Professional Locksmith (CPL), and Certified Master Locksmith (CML)

The Safe and Vault Technicians Association (SAVTA) offer two certifications with regard to the maintenance and repair of safes and vaults.

These two certifications are Certified Professional Safe Tech and Certified Master Safe Tech.

Certification Example:

Locksmith Certificate

Average Training Program Duration: 0-1 Year

The training program for a locksmith lasts from six months to four years.

Community colleges and vocational school offer programs that last six months to one year.

Coursework at a university may last up to four years and usually culminates with an associate or higher degree.

Popular Degree Programs


Job Outlook & Growth

The job growth outlook for a locksmith appears promising as it is expected to increase.

Along with the expected growth come added responsibilities.

Locksmith must stay current on new technology and ever changing security systems and lock systems.

Locksmiths can expect a 12 percent rate of growth for the next few years.

Employment Growth Projection: -9.8%

19,493
2016
17,583
2026

That's a higher than average projected growth of -1,910 jobs.

Locksmith: Interest Over Time


Should You Become a Locksmith?
(Data-Driven Review)

Overall Satisfaction

Overall Satisfaction: High

Job satisfaction as a locksmith is high.

A locksmith is always helping others.

They may take a bad situation, turn it around, and make it better.

Flexibility is a big advantage of a locksmith’s job.

Locksmiths can set their own schedule and have the flexibility to accept or refuse jobs.

However, with locksmithing, hours works and jobs completed is directly tied to the salary earned.

Average Salary

Average Salary: High

When just starting out, a locksmith makes minimum wage.

With increasing experience, licenses and certification, locksmiths may earn a high wage.

The average salary for a locksmith is $41,270.

Keep in mind that locksmiths often work weekends, holidays, and after hours.

When a locksmith works beyond normal working hours, services may require extra fees.

Some locksmiths offer emergency services and evening availability.

When a locksmith’s services are used in these situations, a higher rate will be charged.

Job Growth Outlook

Job Growth Outlook: Low

The job growth outlook for a locksmith appears promising as it is expected to increase.

Along with the expected growth come added responsibilities.

Locksmith must stay current on new technology and ever changing security systems and lock systems.

Locksmiths can expect a 12 percent rate of growth for the next few years.

Education Duration

Education Duration: 0-1 Year

The minimum education for a locksmith is a high school diploma.

Post-secondary training may last for six months up to four years.

Community colleges and vocational schools usually offer some training and course for locksmiths.

Personal Skills Needed

Personal Skills Needed

 

  • Pay close attention to detail
  • Possess the desire and ability to solve problems quickly, efficiently, and under pressure
  • Maintains organization with regard to tools and equipment as well as paperwork
  • Possess the ability to stay focused and engaged until a task is complete
  • Has patience
  • Maintains a calm presence even when the situation is stressful
  • Knowledgeable of and able to use power tools


Frequently Asked Questions

Q. How Much Does a Locksmith Make an Hour?

The average hourly earnings for a locksmith is $24.

This rate is affected by the state in which the locksmith works and their experience.

Emergency services and evening services often allow the locksmith to earn a higher rate per hour.

Q. How Long Does It Take for a Locksmith to Open a Door?

A locksmith can open a typical locked car or house door within 30 minutes.

Of course, this could vary depending on the type of lock and condition of the lock mechanism.

Often, the locksmith can simply pick the lock or use a bump key to open the door.

If this is not possible, parts of the lock may have to be disassembled and opened.

Then, the locksmith will reassemble the lock.

Q. How Much Does It Cost to Become a Certified Locksmith?

The cost of becoming a locksmith depends on the type training that is selected.

Online training courses cost $400 to $1,000.

Attending school in person will cost $1,000 to $3,000.

Apprenticeships and information training may cost $100 or less.

This on-the-job training may require a background check and fingerprinting as a prerequisite.

Following training, locksmith wanting to earn the various certifications will incur additional costs.

The certifications range from $60 to $300 per exam.

Q. How Do I Start My Own Locksmith Business?

The first step in owning a locksmith business is to get the proper education and earn the certifications needed and license required to operate in the state where you live.

Most locksmith businesses are sole proprietorships—one-man businesses.

You will need a mobile unit in order to meet your customers at their location and an office space which could even be in your home.

Marketing your business will be the next step.

You must present yourself as a viable, trustworthy business and then allow your work to help you grow your business.

Q. What Is the Average Cost to Hire a Locksmith?

A locksmith may be called out to change the locks in a home, repair locks, or get someone back into their home or car.

An experienced locksmith charges an average of $156 for their professional services.

The rate may vary depending on whether or not the situation is an emergency or the weather conditions in the area.

An additional fee may be charged by some locksmiths for providing night time or emergency services.


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