How to Become a Locksmith in Tennessee

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How to Become a Locksmith in Tennessee

Today is the time to become excited about the future of locksmithing!

Experts note that since the onset of the COVID-19 Pandemic, home, and commercial security has increased across the United States, with health and safety concerns driving the trend.

Now more than ever, society is transitioning to touchless solutions, temperature screening when entering buildings, and many more innovations.

As a result, the locksmithing industry is continuing strong with increased demand for skilled and innovative technicians.

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In the future, the industry is expected to have a high demand for locksmiths specializing in high-tech locking and security systems, which means greater income and large clients.

If you are interested in pursuing this career in Tennessee, there are specific requirements that must be met.

Keep reading to learn more!

Steps to Become a Locksmith in Tennessee

Tennessee is one of the stricter states when trying to become a locksmith.

These are the steps:

Step One: Meeting the Requirements for a Locksmith License

Locksmith licenses are required for companies, individuals, and apprentices through the Tennessee Department of Commerce & Insurance (TDCI).

For apprentice and individual licenses, there are a variety of requirements (listed in the next section) that must be met before starting the application process.

Business owners must have a signed affidavit verifying company ownership, a valid business license, and proof of general liability insurance to apply.

Step Two: Pass a Background Check

The TDCI also requires applicants to pass a background check, which means fingerprints must be entered into the Idemia or IdentoGO system along with a fee of $35.15.

The FBI has specific fingerprinting submission instructions, processes the results, and reports them back to the state.

If you have a criminal background, you must submit the related court documents on all charges and convictions.

Step Three: Pass the Locksmith Licensing Exam

Tennessee also requires all applicants to take and pass a locksmith licensing exam, which is offered by PSI exams in Knoxville, Johnson City, Jackson, Chattanooga, and Memphis.

The recommended study materials to pass the test include The Complete Book of Locks and Locksmithing, Tennessee Code Annotated, and Tennessee Department of Commerce and Insurance, Locksmith Licensing Program.

Step Four: Pay the Application Fee

The fee structure consists of three levels: company ($100 application fee and $50 license fee), individual ($75 application fee and $25 license fee), and apprentice ($50 application fee and $25 license fee).

Step Five: Submit your Application

Regardless of your level, you must create an online account with the TDCI and submit your application online once all other requirements are met.

Licensing Requirements to Become a Locksmith

The licensing requirements are as follows:

  • Age – you must be at least 16 years old.
  • Background check – you must complete a background check, be fingerprinted, and a pay fee.
  • Education – you are required to complete at least 30 hours of basic locksmith training and have two years of work experience before applying. As an apprentice, you must work with a registered and experienced locksmith.
  • Identification – submit a valid government-issued identification card (driver’s license, state ID, passport, etc.)
  • Pass an exam – all applicants, regardless of application level, must pass an exam. However, if you have proof of four years of experience as an apprentice, you could be exempt.
  • Photograph – submit a digital color passport-type photo taken within the past three months.

Locksmith Programs

To assist with acquiring a license and starting your career, several schools offer excellent locksmith training programs, including:

Ashworth College

Ashworth College is a leading online locksmith program that can be completed in four months.

The cost for the entire comprehensive course is $749.

Elite CEU

Elite CEU offers a 30-hour general locksmith certification course, which meets the state training requirements.

For $399 for the course, content is split into 19 segments covering a variety of locksmith material.

Locksmith School of America

The basic course offered by the Locksmith School of America is two weeks of online coursework and two weeks in the field shadowing a registered locksmith.

The shadowing process allows students to hone their skills in a hands-on environment.

Penn Foster

This online locksmith program offered by Penn Foster costs $749 and can be completed in under one year.


The national locksmith’s median salary is $54,000 with pay ranging from $40,000 to $67,000.

In Tennessee, the median salary and range are slightly less at $50,000 with a range from $37,000 to $62,000.

Annual Salary Range:
Annual Salary by Location:
Location Avg. Annual Salary
Memphis $50,176
Nashville-Davidson $50,319
Knoxville $49,678
Chattanooga $48,816
Clarksville $49,180
Murfreesboro $49,940
Jackson $49,797
Johnson City $47,124
Kingsport $47,301
Franklin $50,142

Regional Salary in Tennessee

Region Employed Avg. Annual Salary Avg. Hourly Pay Top 10% Annual Salary Bottom 10% Annual Salary
Knoxville, TN30$40,450$19.45$76,970$29,450
Memphis, TN-MS-AR80$44,660$21.47$77,150$29,530
Nashville-Davidson--Murfreesboro--Franklin, TN100$44,360$21.33$60,960$30,900
* Salary information based on the May 2022 Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) Survey for Locksmiths and Safe Repairers, OCC Code 49-9094, BLS.
* Employment conditions in your area may vary.


Frequently Asked Questions

What criminal history can result in disqualification on your background check?

The State of Tennessee looks at three specific criminal charges: illegal sale, possession, or use of drugs; habitual criminal offenses; and felony arson, larceny, breaking and entering, and assault.

Also, an individual with a theft or fraud conviction is automatically disqualified from applying.

What does the Tennessee locksmith license exam cover?

The test includes Tennessee locksmith rules and laws, access control, combination locks, master keying, lock codes, lock code cutting equipment, lock opening techniques, lockset installations and functions, exit door and hardware closers, wafer tumbler cylinders, high-security cylinders, 5-cylinder servicing, and vehicle lock services.

What are the considerations for selecting a locksmithing school in Tennessee?

The main considerations when looking at a program are if the school meets your time and monetary constraints.

While some programs are more comprehensive than others, if you do not have the time or money to attend that training program, then the content of the courses does not matter.

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