How to Become a Locksmith in California

Do you like problem-solving and working with your hands? Locksmithing involves a high level of skill in picking, repairing, and installing locks.

This career offers independence and flexibility, and the satisfaction of providing a valuable service to people in their time of need.

Education and Training

Trade Schools with Locksmith Programs

While no formal education is required to be a locksmith in the state of California, enrolling in a locksmith program can be extremely beneficial.

What Are the Benefits?

These programs teach individuals the skills they’ll need to be successful. Students can enroll in either in-person classes or find an online program that better suits their busy life.

How Much Does It Cost?

The Penn Foster programs cost about $800.

Other programs can cost as much as $15,000.  It just depends on what your educational goals are.

How Long Does It Take?

The online Penn Foster program takes 2 months.  Other schools offer programs that can be completed in as little as 5 months or up to 1 year.

What Do You Study?

Whether you take formal classes or learn through an apprenticeship, some topics you will likely cover are:

  • Basics of keys
  • Locks and key mastering
  • Fundamentals of home security
  • Home security wiring
  • CCTV systems

California Locksmith Requirements

To legally work as a locksmith in the state of California, you must get a locksmith license.

In order to do this, you will need to undergo a criminal history background check through the California Department of Justice and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

License Application

To be eligible to apply for a locksmithing license, you must:

  • Be at least 18 years of age
  • Download and complete the license application
  • Pass a criminal background check

You may fill out and submit your application to online, or mail the required documents and payment to:

Bureau of Security and Investigative Services

P.O. Box 989002

West Sacramento, CA 95798-9002


Licensing Process

Once the application and application fees have been submitted, you will receive a 120-day temporary registration so long as you pass the background check.

Fees for the application total $250, plus an additional $250 once the license is approved. In the state of California, a locksmith license is valid for two years before needing to be renewed.

Earning a Certification

Getting a locksmithing certification, whether in-person or online, can help you stand out from the crowd. The state of California does not have a mandate on needing a certification or meeting a certain education requirement to gain employment, so having a certification can help you look more attractive to potential employers.


Below are some average salaries and hourly wages for areas of the state.

Area Hourly Annual
Bakersfield $30.62 $63,690.00
Fresno $30.15 $62,700.00
Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim $28.83 $59,970.00
Oxnard-Thousand Oaks-Ventura $28.34 $58,950.00
Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario $29.27 $60,870.00
Sacramento–Roseville–Arden-Arcade $30.76 $63,970.00
San Diego-Carlsbad $28.32 $58,910.00
San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward $33.75 $70,210.00
San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara $34.96 $72,710.00
Santa Maria-Santa Barbara $27.81 $57,840.00

Occupation: Locksmiths and Safe Repairers (SOC Code499094)

A locksmith salary in California can differ depending on a number of factors like region, experience, and amount of education you complete.

Job Description

What Do They Do?

A CA locksmith has a wide range of job responsibilities, and they can change depending on the day or job.

Locksmiths install, repair, and adjust locks and security devices on both residential and commercial properties. They also cut keys as well as change or bypass locks depending on what the customer needs.

Job Duties

Other duties for a locksmith may include:

  • Provide, repair, and troubleshoot locks for windows
  • Provide locks for security safes and vaults
  • Install, repair, or open vaults and safes
  • Auto locksmithing
  • Reprogram remote keys, repair key fobs, make new car keys

Advanced Duties

Locksmiths may also market and sell different lock systems, security control systems, window bars, and deadbolt locks.

On commercial properties, locksmiths can even repair certain components on entrance and exit doors.

These workers also have the ability to design and create master key systems for banks, warehouses, apartment complexes, power plants, and manufacturing plants.

Work Environment

Because of the nature of their job, locksmiths can work unusual hours. This means sometimes working nights and weekends depending on the job or client. Locksmiths may also find themselves on a variety of different worksites such as private homes, commercial businesses, banks, and manufacturing plants.

What Personal Skills or Traits Are Needed?

Being a successful locksmith means having a wide range of skills available to properly complete a job.

Since many jobs will require a locksmith to work face-to-face with a client, individuals in these roles should have strong customer service skills and be personable in conversation.

Some other helpful skills for a locksmith are:

  • Dexterity and mechanical skills
  • Physical strength
  • Problem solving
  • Troubleshooting
  • Technical aptitude
  • Knowledge of security and control systems
  • Skilled with hand and power tools

Career Outlook

You should be able to find locksmith jobs in California in the coming years. While the job growth may be slower than those in tech or healthcare, experts predict that there will be an additional 3,000 locksmithing jobs available within the next decade, an increase of three percent. Additionally, the state of California has the most locksmithing job opportunities compared to the other parts of the country.