How to Become a Locksmith

Updated July 22, 2022

Locksmiths perform an important service to customers by repairing and replacing locks that offer personal security. Often, they provide emergency on-call services to people who are locked out of their homes or cars. Becoming a locksmith is a relatively short career path that could provide people with a sense of accomplishment and pride. In this article, you'll learn how to become a locksmith, locksmith salary information and more.

What does a locksmith do?

Locksmiths install, repair, replace, unlock and adjust locks on doors, windows, car doors, safes and more. They also provide consultation services to homes and businesses that want to improve security by focusing on their locks and peripheral security services. Locksmiths are also well-known for working untraditional hours to provide emergency on-call services to people who are locked out of homes and automobiles.

Average salary for locksmiths

According to Indeed Salaries, locksmiths make $47,513 per year. In some cases, they may receive overtime pay for working outside of business hours. The typical tenure for the locksmith position is between 2 and 4 years.

Related: Entry Level Jobs that Pay Well

Locksmith training requirements

All locksmiths need training to be considered for the role, but the training requirements vary from state to state. A good starting point is to look is to check with the professional organizations for locksmiths, starting with Associated Locksmiths of America (ALOA) for endorsed training options, and to learn about what's required in your state.

Some states, or individual districts, require locksmiths to have a license to practice. Those areas are as follows:

  • Alabama

  • California

  • Connecticut

  • Illinois

  • Louisiana

  • Maryland

  • Nebraska

  • Nevada

  • New Jersey

  • North Carolina

  • Oklahoma

  • Oregon

  • Tennessee

  • Texas

  • Virginia

Additionally, people who reside in any of the following districts or counties must also have a license to practice:

  • Hillsborough County, Florida

  • Nassau County, Long Island

  • New York City, New York

  • Washington D.C.

How to become a locksmith

If you want to become a locksmith, consider following these steps:

  1. Complete a training program.

  2. Take on an apprenticeship.

  3. Get your license in applicable states and districts.

  4. Work for a locksmith company and develop skills.

1. Complete a training program

Once you have a high school diploma or equivalent, if you want to become a locksmith you should enroll in a locksmith training program. These can usually be found at local community colleges and vocational schools. The training will likely be some combination of hands-on training and assessment and will occur over several months or years. If you live in a state that requires certification, enroll in a training program that will lead to licensure.

2. Take on an apprenticeship

Instead of or addition to formal training, you can take on an apprenticeship. Apprenticeships provide opportunities for entry-level employees to work with experienced professionals and take a hands-on role in locksmithing. Some apprenticeships are paid, but many offer experience only and are a requirement for getting a paid position. If you decide to apprentice, make sure you get mentored by someone with a license or certificate to ensure you're getting the most comprehensive training.

3. Get your license in applicable states and districts

If your state requires a license or certificate you will need to obtain it. That requires testing your locksmith skills with assessment and passing satisfactorily. The ALOA is the governing body that administers the certification exam and offers designations to those who pass like Registered Locksmith, Certified Automotive Locksmith, or Certified Master Safe Tech. To get your license, you may also need to submit to a comprehensive background check and submit fingerprints to the state.

4. Work for a locksmith company and develop skills

Before you branch out to working independently, it makes sense to look for work with an established locksmith company. Doing so will allow you to learn all about business operations, including administrative tasks and develop the skills needed to work for yourself. It may even be required in your state that you work for several years under an existing locksmith since requirements vary from state to state.

You can choose to work for a large company that provides 24-hour emergency service, or a small one that works around business hours. You may also check with security companies, hardware stores and other employers in parallel industries.

Related: What if You Aren't Hearing Back from Employers

FAQs about Locksmithing

We've identified several frequently asked questions about locksmithing and provided answers. If you're thinking about becoming a locksmith, you might be asking yourself these questions:

  • How can I find out training requirements to become a locksmith in my state?

  • How long does it take to become a locksmith?

  • What are the job prospects for locksmiths?

  • How can I find a locksmith job?

How can I find out training requirements to become a locksmith in my state?

To learn more about what is required in your state, visit your local government website and the ALOA. Each state has individual requirements for locksmiths, so locating this information first is essential. The ALOA keeps a list of approved training programs and this offers some direction for people wondering how to become a locksmith.

To become certified, regardless of your state requirements, aspiring locksmiths must pass an exam in ten mandatory categories and at least two elective categories.

How long does it take to become a locksmith?

The time it takes to become a locksmith varies from months to years. Some locksmith training programs can be completed in as little as three months, and your state may let you work as a locksmith right away. However, other states may require training over the course of years that includes formal education, work experience and certification or licensure. On average, most people can become a locksmith within two years.

What are the job prospects for locksmiths?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, locksmithing is a slow-growing profession, but one that is growing, nonetheless. For people looking to get into the field, entry-level opportunities for apprenticeships or at large 24-hour companies may be the best choice.

How can I find a locksmith job?

It's smart to consider finding a locksmith job before venturing out to work on your own. To do that, use a website like Indeed to find job listings that you can apply for. Before you hit submit, fix your resume to reflect your new education, training and skills. To prepare for the interview, you should research the company and practice standard interview questions and answers, as well as specialized ones that test your knowledge of locksmithing.

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