If you’re eyeing up locksmithing as a potential future career, the first thing you need to do is research. Locksmithing is a niche, and unique career pathway – very few people know how to get into it correctly – and it’s important to you that you aren’t wasting your time.
This article is an investment: put in the time to learn what certifications are worthwhile, and you won’t end up dedicating hours and hours to useless work.
Here’s our helpful guide on how to become a professional locksmith and getting the qualification you will need to become qualified within the industry.
What Skills Will I Need?
No specific set of entry requirements exists when it comes to starting your career in the locksmith industry. This means that you’re free to proceed as you wish, but also without an official qualification and progression structure.
There are, however, several skills that are going to be necessary if you are looking to exceed within the field:
- Excellent manual dexterity and attention to detail
- Proficiency with mechanical and digital gadgets and tools
- Patience, persistence and a willingness to learn
- The ability to adapt and find new ways to solve problems
- A basic understanding of mathematics and carpentry
All of these will be assets when entering the field. Locksmithing is a career likely to pique your interest if you are keen on these areas and enjoy engineering puzzles. The nature of locksmithing also means that you need to continually revise, improve and seek new ways of styling your craft.
Locksmithing is diverse and specializing within the field is varied. Each of these particular paths will require its skills and study. Dealing with these specialties will become a part of your trade once you’ve established your foundational skills, so it’s important to look ahead to what sort of career you’re chasing.
What Will You Be Doing?
The day-to-day duties of a locksmith can include any mixture of the following, so it’s important to be aware:
- Basic accounting and invoicing practices
- Fitting locks to existing structures like windows and doors
- Servicing and repairing locks
- Cutting, copying and fixing keys and other mechanisms
- Designing and fitting combination locks
- Emergency call-outs to remove, replace, or open locks that have malfunctioned (or when clients have lost their keys!)
You’re also going to spend a lot of time maintaining different types of security systems: everything from safes and CCTV to high-tech systems. The level of intricacy you’re working at will depend on your experience and tech-engineering skill set.
Why Become a Certified Locksmith?
Put simply: you should think about getting certified to remain competitive as possible.
Employers, contractors, governments and even simple homeowners are taking more care than ever to ensure that they are hiring and working with the most skilled and knowledgeable individuals that they can be. Professional certifications offer an extra screening tool, having a certification that has backing and credibility from a preeminent professional association makes you stand out from a crowd and verifies your reliability as a professional.
Investment in certification is an investment in your career, livelihood, and future. While you might have the professional skills locksmithing requires, not even employer will know that you have them – unless you get yourself a badge to prove it. Taking the initiative to gain certifications will verify to your customers that your skills are current, valuable and validated.
The added benefits of getting certified come in the form of the boost in confidence level and personal satisfaction you’ll receive from the process.
Becoming a certified locksmith will allow you:
- To demonstrate your advanced knowledge as a locksmith
- To gain instant professional credibility
- To advance your career
- To stand out amongst the competition
- To increase your potential earnings
- To be a step ahead with licensing in your state
How Long Will it Take?
Becoming a fully-qualified and proficient locksmith is just like everything else: it depends on how much time and effort you’re willing to put in. It also depends on your attention to detail and passion for the craft.
For most people, it’s going to take around 3-4 years of training and practice to become widely-confident.
Experience in relevant skills like mechanical or software engineering and carpentry are going to be relevant and improve your development. Mechanical and electronic skills are arguably more critical in the modern age, but that depends on your niche within the field.
The time frame will also be dependant on how you plan to work. You can choose to set up your own business after qualifying, gaining experience with smaller jobs and working up to large, corporate projects.
Others will become traditionally employed or take on a trainee role within an existing locksmith business which is a great way to acquire skills and knowledge at an accelerated pace. Some organizations may even invest in your training process.
Education and Training
Subjects from high school that are recommended or of use if you’re looking to go into locksmithing are courses in mathematics, mechanical drawing, metalworking, basic electronics, physics, English, and Business. Trainee locksmiths will usually work alongside experienced locksmiths until they have mastered the skills necessary to work on an individual basis. Some on-the-job training programmes include demonstrations or classroom time as well as practical training.
Locksmith Training Courses
You need to make sure you chose the right training course!
Speak to as many people as you can
it’s best to try and get a referral from people who have previously undertaken courses as they can give you a reliable opinion from their first-hand experience.
Talk to the training provider
This is a great way to know all the information about the course you need. It would also be a good idea to come and visit their premises if this is possible
Research training providers
Are they trading locksmiths? This will enable them to give you appropriate feedback from their own first-hand experience in the industry, it’s surprising how many people provide training courses in areas they have only recently entered themselves – this is not just applicable to locksmithing, but many other areas as well.
Anyone can become a locksmith with the proper training. Your training can come from different sources, including technical schools, correspondence courses, trade publications, apprenticeship programs, and professional locksmith association such as the Associated Locksmiths of America (ALOA).
The ALOA is an international trade association that recognizes professionalism and proficiency among locksmiths. The association offers a broad array of affordable training programs that keep locksmiths and other security professionals up-to-date with industry changes and working to the best of their abilities.
There is an ALOA Class Schedule available online showing what classes are available at various teaching sites located all over the country.
Locksmith Certification Levels
ALOA Fundamental Locksmith (AFL)
Being qualified as an AFL will demonstrate to any potential clients or employers that you possess enough general locksmithing knowledge to function as an apprentice locksmith.
Certified Registered Locksmith (CRL)
This is the first real level of locksmith certification. A CRL will have passed ten categorized modules and two functional modules of their choice.
Certified Professional Locksmith (CPL)
The second level of locksmith certification, a CPL will have earned this designation by completing an extra 12 elective categories of training.
Certified Master Locksmith (CML)
The highest level of general locksmith certification. A Master Locksmith holds the highest level of accreditation the ALOA distributes. Proficiency has been shown in 90% of the available categories of the programme.
Certified Professional Safe Technician (CPS)
The first level of certification in Safe Tech, a holder of a CPS certification has demonstrated proficiency in 17 safe and vault related categories.
Certified Master Safe Technician (CMST)
A Master Safe Locksmith has successfully demonstrated advanced proficiency in safe and vault related categories.
Different Areas of Locksmithing
Understanding your approach to locksmithing and the market you’re working in is a significant advantage to your long-term technical and financial development. The service you offer will determine how successful you are, what you need to study and how you relate to customers.
Fundamental questions you need to ask yourself:
- What type of service do you intend to offer?
- What sort of demands are you going to satisfy? What do your customers want/need?
- What sort of devices are you most interested/skilled with?
- What is your business model?
- What sort of client are you looking to acquire?
- What type of brand identity are you looking to build and how does it interact with your choice of niche/medium?
There are several routes to take within locksmithing; it is vital that you can formalize an effective business plan that is within your budget. Understand that patience is a crucial aspect of making a craft business work.
What Can You Expect from the Salary when you become a locksmith?
As with most careers, the salary you can expect to get depends significantly on your experience and your ability to negotiate and secure contracts with high-profile clients. Some ballpark salary figures for standard locksmithing are:
- Trainee: $230-280 per week
- Experienced: $320-440 per week
- Highly Experienced: $400-720 per week
Your salary will also vary depending on:
- Your business model and incorporation style (less middle-men = more money)
- Your working hours/work volume (more hours = more money)
- The service you’re offering (more niche or more advanced = more money)
- Your market share/segment (wealthier clients = more money)
So, What Are You Waiting For?
Increasing your possession of internationally renowned qualifications from the ALOA is an easy and exciting way to boost your business success and profit margins, alongside a significant boost to your motivation, self-satisfaction, and confidence. There is not enough reason not to get your certification as soon as you can!
And remember, if you ever need a local locksmiths help, don’t hesitate to call Key Smiths.