If you’re looking for a career that will let you work with your hands, think about becoming a locksmith. The job is all about helping people out of sticky situations, and it involves a lot of trial and error—so it’s perfect for anyone who likes to figure things out on their own.
This article will cover what locksmiths do, what kind of training they need, how much they make on average, and more.
Education & Training
How Long Does Locksmith Training Take?
Depending on the state, becoming a locksmith can take from no time at all to 9 months – some states have no licensing requirements for locksmiths, while in others you must complete training programs and apprenticeships in order to be licensed and work as a locksmith.
As more states require licenses, it is strongly recommended to complete a training program when starting out in the field, both for personal knowledge and employment opportunities. However, there is no singular national license – the majority are offered by state-specific associations.
Such training programs tend to take 5 to 7 months to complete, though most are self-paced and can be completed faster if needed.
How Much Does it Cost?
Training programs for locksmiths usually cost $800 – $1000. Additional in-person training may also cost over $1000, however paid apprenticeships are a financially viable option for those who have completed training programs. For states where licensing is required, the cost of getting a 2-year locksmith license can range from $100 – $300.
What Do You Study?
Training programs in locksmithing and home security provide the necessary skills and knowledge to begin a career. While additional in-person training through apprenticeships or internships is recommended, online programs can supply a thorough foundation. Course topics typically include:
- Overview of keys: understanding the basics of identifying keys through their shapes and characteristics, creating new keys from blanks, and duplicating various types of keys.
- Basics of locks: understanding operation of locks, including how they work and how to pick basic locking mechanisms, as well as how to rekey locks.
- Home Security wiring and systems: understanding fundamentals of wiring and installation for home security systems and how it relates to locksmithing, as well as learning types of home control systems and how they operate.
- Surveillance systems: understanding various types of detection and alarm systems (such as intruder, smoke, or carbon monoxide detection) and how they work with primary locking systems as well as their various components.
Benefits of Taking a Course
Opting for a formal training program and/or apprenticeship as a prospective locksmith offers a number of advantages over forgoing education, though it is not mandatory in every state.
Courses in locksmithing provide a comprehensive understanding of theoretical and practical knowledge for the field, while hands-on apprenticeships offer hands-on experience, allowing prospective locksmiths to master the craft under guidance of professionals.
Rather than having to learn advanced topics on-the-job, enrolling in a program significantly helps overall preparedness and proficiency for potential locksmiths.
Additionally, completing a training program enhances one’s appeal to potential employers; a certified or licensed locksmith stands out as a much more competent and reliable candidate. Formal training also ensures familiarity with the latest industry technologies and practices, which is especially vital given the speed of technological advancements.
Types of Programs
To start your path toward becoming a locksmith, you’ll need to choose which type of locksmith training program will work best for your needs.
Here’s a look at your options:
1. Certificate Programs
These programs are short and focused on teaching skills that will get you started in the field, such as how to rekey locks or install deadbolts. They may also include some general education courses like math and English. These programs do not require previous experience or certifications, though an organization like the ALOA should accredit them.
2. Associate Degree Programs
These programs offer more hands-on training than certificate programs and can take two to four years to complete. Some associate degree programs offer internship opportunities so that students gain real-world experience before entering the workforce full-time as locksmiths. They require students to have good technical and communication skills since they’ll be interacting with clients regularly during internships and throughout their careers as locksmiths.
3. Online Courses
Online courses can be a great way to get started if you have some experience or are looking for something more affordable than other options. They tend not to be as comprehensive as other kinds of programs, but they are usually affordable and flexible enough that they can be done at your own pace.
The best course of action would be to search local schools and find out what their locksmith programs entail. Contact each one of them, get an idea of how long it will take to complete the program, and most importantly, figure out how much it will cost you.
An apprenticeship program is one option for learning about locksmith work. Apprenticeships involve working directly under the supervision of an experienced locksmith while receiving on-the-job training and classroom instruction to gain hands-on experience in the field.
These programs typically last up to four years before they allow you to take your exam and become licensed as an official locksmith.
Suppose you choose to get your education through an apprenticeship. In that case, finding a good employer who will teach you what you need to know and give you opportunities for advancement within the company is important.
The pay is typically low at first, but as you gain experience and skills, it can increase substantially over time.
The majority of states require that you have a high school diploma or equivalent before you can receive your license. This is because locksmithing is a skilled trade, and the licensing process ensures that only qualified people are allowed to work as locksmiths.
You must pass an examination and submit fingerprints to receive your license. The licensing requirements vary by state, but most states require at least one year of experience working as an apprentice under an established locksmith before applying for your license.
After licensing, most employers still prefer locksmiths with certification from The Associated Locksmiths of America (ALOA).
To become an ALOA-certified locksmith, you must pass the organization’s written exam. For beginners, attending a locksmith school can be an excellent way to gain more experience and learn the trade before taking the test.
- ALOA Fundamental Locksmith
- ALOA certified professional Locksmith
- Certified Professional Safe Technician
- Certified Master Safe Technician
- Certified Master Locksmith
- Certified Registered Technician
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the national average salary per year for locksmiths is $50,210 as of 2022. Those who work for government organizations or institutions (schools, universities, etc.) can earn an average of $71,990. Locksmiths who work for private research services can earn as high as $82,770 annually. With the relatively low cost of training and licensing, investing in a career in locksmithing is highly financially worthwhile.
The amount you can expect to make depends on your level of education, certification, experience, and work type. Locksmiths in large cities also tend to make more money than those working in smaller areas because more customers are available.
The locksmith profession has been around for centuries, and in that time, it has seen many changes. Today’s locksmiths are part of a rapidly growing industry, with over 27,000 locksmith businesses in the United States alone.
The evolving landscape of security needs, driven by technological advancements, continues to present opportunities for skilled locksmiths.
Moreover, those with experience in the field can explore opportunities for advancement and specialization, with positions in private security consulting, commercial locksmithing (such as for automobiles), or locksmithing for security firms. Overall, with a continued need for expertise in advanced security systems, trained locksmiths will always be in demand, ensuring a steady and essential career.