Most people rely on keys to unlock the locks protecting their valuables – like a home, a business, a bike, or a car, to name a few.
If you are like most, your keyring includes a wide variety of traditional and electronic keys.
But what happens if the lock malfunctions or you lose your keys?
Answer – you need the services of a professional locksmith.
Earn your accredited, affordable Locksmith career diploma online with Penn Foster in as little as 5 months!
Article Table of Contents
- 1 Popular Programs
- 2 Steps to Become a Locksmith in California
- 3 Locksmith Licensing Requirements in California
- 4 Locksmith Programs in California
- 5 Salary for California Locksmiths
- 6 Frequently Asked Questions
Steps to Become a Locksmith in California
According to the California Business and Professions Code (BPC – Chapter 8.5 Locksmiths – the Locksmith Act), a “locksmith” is defined as any person, who for any compensation (or other consideration) engages in the business of installing, modifying, re-keying, repairing and opening of locks.
Further, this same law defines a lock as a mechanical, electronic (i.e., key fob, etc.), electromechanical, or similar device designed to control access.
However, the California definition excludes someone who only makes duplicate keys from an existing key.
According to California law, no person can engage in locksmith activities unless they hold a locksmith license or are exempt from the law (Section 6980.12).
Step1. Complete a locksmith training or apprenticeship program available online or campus-based
Note this is not a requirement but is highly encouraged.
Step 2. Apply for a locksmith license
The total fee is $500, with one-half due at application and the second half due at approval, plus $32 for the Live Scan fingerprinting fee and a $17 FBI fingerprint fee.
Go through the steps in both links above, but don’t start that before you applied for a locksmith license.
Step 4. Submit an application (Form 31A-4) and the required fee.
This is submitted through an online system or Bureau of Security and Investigative Services P.O. Box 989002, West Sacramento, CA 95798-9002.
A temporary license is issued with a 120-day expiration, allowing the applicant to work in California as a locksmith while the application is approved.
Note, though, if a locksmith earns more than $500 on any one job site, they are required to obtain a California contractor’s license.
This includes a separate application and passing the Lock and Security Equipment contractor exam.
Additional information is available online or at the Contractor’s State License Board – 800-321-2752.
To be eligible for a locksmith contractor license, the applicant must have four years of experience as a locksmith or be a locksmith in training with a minimum of one year of locksmith work experience.
Locksmith Licensing Requirements in California
To work legally in California, one must obtain a locksmith license.
The eligibility requirements for an individual, corporation, or partnership that is seeking a California locksmith license include:
- The applicant to be 18+ years of age
- Download and complete the application for the license, which is available from the state’s Bureau of Security and Investigative Services (BSIS). (Form 31A-4)
- A criminal background check by the FBI and the California DOJ (BCII 8016)
- Acknowledgment as to who will be running the locksmith business.
If filing as a fictitious business name, a request for authorization of business name.
If filing as a corporation, you must include the Articles of Organization/Incorporation.
A California locksmith license is valid for two years.
If you plan to open a branch of the locksmith business, the state will charge an additional branch office fee.
California requires licensed locksmiths to display their current license and renewal certificate conspicuously at their business location.
If you always plan to open a branch office, there are additional fees.
Locksmith Programs in California
The Golden State offers a variety of locksmith programs.
- The California Institute of Locksmithing, located in Agora Hills, offers several classes – online and on-campus with multiple start dates each year. Prices vary based on the exact program chosen.
- Penn-Foster offers an online technical program for locksmith and home security technicians.
- After successfully passing the exam, Ashworth College offers a comprehensive program that includes locksmithing tools and an ALOA Locksmith Certificate.
In addition, many locksmiths seek voluntary certification as a locksmith specialist.
These ALOA certifications include:
- A Certified Registered Locksmith
- A Certified Master Locksmith
- A Certified Forensic Locksmith
- A Certified Professional Locksmith
- A Certified Automotive Locksmith
- A Certified Master Safe Technician
- A Certified Professional Safe Technician
Salary for California Locksmiths
According to Salary.com, the median locksmith salary in the US as of December 2021 is $54,059.
In addition, the statisticians at BLS – the Bureau of Labor Statistics notes that there were approximately 2,250 locksmiths working in California in 2020.
The median annual salary for a Californian locksmith was $47,430.
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Frequently Asked Questions
How long is a locksmith license good for?
California’s locksmith license is valid for two years.
How long does it take to get a temporary locksmith license in California?
A temporary license is issued with a 120-day expiration at application.
This allows the applicant to begin working in California as a locksmith while the application is being processed.
How much is the California locksmith license fee at the application?
The fee for the application is $250.
When the license is approved, there is a license fee of $250.