Education and Training Requirements

High School

No special educational requirements are needed to become a locksmith. Most employers prefer applicants who have graduated from high school. Helpful school classes include metal shop, mathematics, mechanical drawing, computers, physics, metalworking, physics, and electronics, if available. If you plan to own your own business, be sure to take classes in accounting, business, and computer science.  

Postsecondary Training

There are locksmiths who have learned their skills from professionals in the business, but many workers learn the trade by either attending a community college or trade school or completing an accredited correspondence course. A number of trade schools in the United States follow a curriculum based on all practical aspects of the locksmith trade. They teach the correct application of the current range of security devices, including the theory and practice of electronic access control, as well as the servicing and repairing of mortise, cylindrical, and bit-key locks. Students learn to recognize keys by their manufacturer and practice cutting keys by hand as well as by machine. Some courses allow students to set up a sample master-key system for clients such as a business or apartment complex. In addition to these fundamentals, pupils also learn to use carpentry tools and jigs to install common locking devices. Finally, they learn about automobile lock systems (how to enter locked automobiles in emergencies and how to remove, service, and repair ignition locks) and combination locks (how to service interchangeable core cylinders and manipulate combinations). The objective of such training is to teach the prospective locksmith all basic responsibilities. After completing a training course, the graduate should be able to meet customer demand and standards of the trade with minimum supervision.

Many persons interested in a locksmith career learn the trade by taking correspondence courses, which include instructions, assignments, tools, and model locks and keys. Lessons may be supplemented with supervised on-the-job training or an apprenticeship with a consenting master locksmith. This training typically takes three months to four years, according to ALOA Security Professionals Association.

Other Education or Training

Continuing education opportunities are provided by lock manufacturers, locksmithing schools, and locksmith associations, including ALOA Security Professionals Association. ALOA offers online and in-person classes on topics such as basic locksmithing, biometrics, keyless mechanical lock service, small format interchangeable CoreLock service, and professional safe opening. Contact the organization for more information.

Certification, Licensing, and Special Requirements

Certification or Licensing

Many cities and states require that locksmiths be licensed and bonded. In some areas, locksmiths may have to be fingerprinted and pay a fee to be licensed.

Area and state locksmith associations may require that their members be certified. ALOA Security Professionals Association Inc. offers the following certification designations: registered locksmith, certified registered locksmith, certified professional locksmith, and the highest level, certified master locksmith. ALOA also offers the following certification designations to locksmiths who specialize in installing and servicing locks and other security devices on safes and vaults: ALOA fundamental locksmith, certified registered locksmith, certified professional locksmith, certified master locksmith, certified professional safe technician, and certified master safe technician. Contact the ALOA for more information.

Experience, Skills, and Personality Traits

Previous experience as a locksmith apprentice or trainee is required to enter this career.

Locksmiths must be able to plan and schedule jobs and to use the right tools, techniques, and materials for each. Good vision and hearing are necessary for working with combination locks, and eye-hand coordination is essential when working with tiny locks and their intricate interiors. A good locksmith should have both a delicate touch and an understanding of the nature of mechanical devices.

Each lost key, broken lock, and security problem will present a unique challenge that the locksmith must be prepared to remedy on the spot. Locksmiths, therefore, must be able to think well on their feet. Locksmiths also have a responsibility to be reliable, accurate, and, most important, honest, since their work involves the security of persons and valuables. Customers must be able to count on their skill, dependability, and integrity. In addition, locksmiths must be aware of laws that apply to elements of their jobs, such as restrictions on duplicating master keys, making safe deposit box keys, and opening automobiles whose keys are not available. It is suggested that the locksmith-to-be consult with a lawyer to discuss the legal responsibilities of the trade.