How To Become A Locksmith

Locksmiths are experts in the fields of locks and security stems within residential, commercial, and institutional areas. As a locksmith, you will understand how lock and security systems work, craft duplicate keys for locks, install lock and security systems, and repair lock systems. The expertise and skills of a locksmith are priceless, especially in an emergency situation. If you have an interest in assisting others, good hand-eye coordination, and mechanical skills, you may want to explore a career in locksmithing!

A locksmith is a trained professional who is capable of doing a variety of tasks which involve the shaping of metal. Locksmiths perform jobs, such as making duplicate keys, repairing and replacing locks, changing combination locks, and assisting people who have locked themselves out of their vehicles or places of residence. Not only can they fashion keys for nearly any lock, they can produce and service any area that needs securing (windows, doors, garages, safes, etc.).

Why Become A Locksmith

Locks and keys are a vital part of our everyday existence. How many times a day do you open or close a lock using your keys? If you are like most individuals, the answer to this key question is quite simple: you utilize or come into contact with a lock every day! Locksmiths are responsible for servicing, replacing, and re-keying lock and security systems. Locksmiths understand the inner-workings of key and lock systems, in addition to utilizing complex locksmithing tools to assist individuals. It is a skill that requires a delicate hand and patience, as the expertise of a locksmith is something that many individuals take for granted.

Locksmiths provide an often overlooked but invaluable service. Their expertise ensures safety and security, and they typically offer it at crucial times. Locksmiths usually offer emergency services, helping people get into their vehicles or homes, even in the middle of the night. Locksmiths also offer a range of services, so the job remains interesting. They can specialize in vehicle security, specialty safes and vaults, and electronic access control systems. Locksmiths are experts in the field of security, and their advice applies to businesses, government agencies, and private residencies.

Good hand-eye coordination, manual dexterity, spatial perception, mechanical and mathematical aptitude, ability to use locksmithing tools, and knowledge of lock components are required skills for the job.

Locksmith Work Environment

Many locksmiths are self-employed and have the ability to work their own hours. Additionally, many locksmiths may work in a key and lock shop, hardware store, industrial plants, hotels, home security companies, casinos, and auto dealerships. As a locksmith, you will work directly with individuals in stressful or emergency situations; therefore, it is imperative that you have strong interpersonal skills and patience, while remaining calm under pressure.

A locksmith is typically self-employed. Working from a specific shop, most likely he or she will work at the site of service, so traveling is a requirement. Their work can be performed indoors or out, so it’s important to be prepared for any type of weather. Their hours are not consistent, and it is usually necessary to remain on call during non-business hours. Some jobs may be in cramped or awkward spaces, so it may be necessary to work in an uncomfortable position for a lengthy period of time. Their workweek averages between 40 and 48 hours, although many self-employed locksmiths will work longer hours.

Tools that locksmiths use include screwdrivers, pliers, tweezers, lock picks, and other manual and mechanical tools. They often create new parts by hand, and keep a well-maintained shop from which to work.

Locksmith Salary

The median salary for a locksmith is $38,600, annually. Across the United States, salaries for locksmiths range from $23,000 to $60,000, depending on geographical location and place of employment. Benefits are also dependent upon employment.

In 2013, the Occupational Employment and Wages Report of the Bureau of Labor Statistics of the US Department of Labor showed the mean annual wage of locksmiths was $39,820.

Average Locksmith Annual Salary


The average annual salary for locksmiths is $42,730 a year. Salaries start at $22,940 a year and go up to $63,860 a year.

Average Locksmith Hourly Wage


The average hourly wage for a locksmith is $20.54. Hourly wages are between $11.03 and $30.70 an hour.

Stats were based out of 17,500 employed locksmiths in the United States.

Highest Paying States For Locksmiths

Top Paying Cities For Locksmiths

Data provided by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

Locksmith Career Outlook

There is always a demand for locksmiths, and the projected growth for this field is about 10%. With so many new homes and businesses being built, locksmiths will always have gainful employment. Regarding this profession, it is important to note that the nature of locks and security is changing more to electronic sources, and so specialized training may be required to keep up with this new demand.

The career outlook for a locksmith looks to grow slowly, with a projected increase of 7% from 2012 to 2022.

Locksmith Degree

In order to become a locksmith, you must obtain training through a locksmith training school, vocational school, apprenticeship, or a state locksmith association. Locksmith certificate programs, locksmith training schools, or locksmith apprenticeships offer hands-on training and education within the field of locksmithing. Throughout your coursework, you will explore topics such as locksmith history, the locksmithing industry, types of locks, key duplication, detention locking systems, automotive locksmithing, residential locksmithing, commercial locksmithing, and institutional locksmithing.

Your training will include electronic security systems training, lockset servicing, mechanical locks, and lock repair. Your training will explore the legal, ethical, and business aspects of the locksmithing trade. If you choose to explore a locksmithing apprenticeship, you will shadow an expert locksmith in order to learn the trade. Apprenticeships in locksmithing can take anywhere from three months to four years to complete, depending on the intricacies of the specific locksmithing field you wish to pursue.

Once you complete a locksmith certificate, degree, or apprenticeship, it is imperative that you work for at least a year before you can obtain a locksmith license. The requirements for licensure varies from state to state, therefore, you will need to check with your state’s requirements before you become licensed. Most states require a background check and fingerprints when submitting a locksmith license application. After you obtain your license, you may want to consider becoming certified through the Associated Locksmiths of America (ALOA).

Certifications are optional, however, the ALOA offers many professional locksmithing certifications to set yourself apart from other professionals, while establishing credibility with clients. ALOA offers certifications such as:

In order to complete the various certifications, you must pass each exam. The responsibilities and roles of locksmiths will change with the advancements of lock and security systems technology. Locksmiths will continue to install, repair, and replace lock and security systems. They will need to be trained to manage complex, electronic, security systems. Continuing education and training will be vital to a locksmith’s future career. It is necessary to stay updated on new advancements and changes in locksmith technology.

Step 1: Receive training in the field. Although no degree beyond a high school diploma is necessary to become a locksmith, to receiving employment, it is necessary to obtain the proper training required of this job. Community colleges, vocational schools, and apprentice sites offer certificate and diploma programs. Depending on area of expertise, locksmiths may choose to receive training in motorcycle and automotive locksmithing, or other specialized security systems. Those interested in owning their own business should take courses in the legal and business aspects of the profession.

The Associated Locksmiths of America (ALOA) report that to become a locksmith, one can expect to attend training through an apprenticeship or coursework from three months to four years, depending on the type of locksmithing desired.

Step 2: Obtain a license. Many states require at least one-year of working in a licensed locksmithing shop before receiving a locksmith license. While not every state requires a license, it is typically necessary to obtain one due to the safety and security of the general public. Most locksmiths will have to undergo a background check, which includes fingerprinting. More information regarding licensure requirements can be obtained through local government agencies or a state locksmith association.

Step 3: Earn a professional certificate and continue education. To keep up with the demands of business and gain the trust of a community, it is beneficial to obtain a professional certificate. The ALOA offers many programs, which confer the following certificates: Registered Locksmith (RL), Certified Registered Locksmith (CRL), Certified Professional Locksmith (CPL), and Certified Master Locksmith (CML). Applicants must pass the respective examination to receive a certificate.

To obtain more business and expand areas of expertise, it is necessary to continue to evolve the practice through certification programs and other educational opportunities.

Join The Discussion - 3 Comments

  1. Kayla Strauss says:

    I’ve always been a little curious about how much a locksmith makes in a year. From the numbers that you put up, it sounds like they make a pretty decent living. Would skill and experience also play a large part in determining salary, or is it mostly location and place of employment?

  2. Owen Camden says:

    It seems like being a locksmith would be a really good job. It is amazing how much training and hard work this job would take. I really respect and admire people that go into this field. It definitely seems like it would take a lot of practice and hard work. However, it would be a skill that would definitely come in handy if you were ever to get locked out of your own home.

  3. Bill Barnett says:

    The career of a locksmith can be risky but really fulfilling. I love businesses that have their products with a sole purpose of helping people. I think one of the greatest benefits of being a locksmith is that each day you are able to help someone that really needed it.

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