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How to Become a Locksmith

Category : Keys , Locks

Becoming a locksmith is a trade skill that allows someone to learn everything they can about locks, keys and how to work with and around the two. A good locksmith can install and repair locks, replace and replicate keys, and troubleshoot faulty ones in your home, business, cars, safes and anything else you keep locked up.

The requirements for becoming a locksmith vary based on your location. Many states will require some sort of certification, but others don’t require any. Let’s take a look at the process dedicated experts have gone through to gain the ability to take care of all your lock and key needs.

Requirements to Become a Locksmith

Like many trade jobs, there are lots of ways people come about working as a locksmith. It is a career path open to practically anyone that is willing to learn and put in the work to gain a new skill. To become a locksmith in the United States, there are only a couple of basic eligibility requirements you’ll have to meet:

Beyond that, much of what you’re required to do to become a locksmith depends on where in the country you live. In some states, you’ll need extra qualifications, which we’ll get into more below. If you’re planning on starting your own locksmithing business, too, you’ll need additional licenses and paperwork to do so.

Perhaps the most important things for a budding locksmith to have are maturity and integrity. The role of being a locksmith requires one to hold on to important confidential information about the lives of hundreds or thousands of people over the course of their career. Only trusted individuals should have information like security codes, addresses and key patterns. Even a simple slip-up can have major consequences for the customer and the business.

Being responsible enough to handle this type of information is likely your first step in getting through the door for an apprenticeship or job in the industry. Aside from that, qualities like patience, manual dexterity, good eyesight and physical strength are beneficial for staying at the top of your game and doing the best you can at every job you receive.

Locksmith Training

If you’ve spoken to any number of locksmiths about their journey to their career, you’ll quickly learn that there’s no one path to becoming a trained professional. Online courses, training and apprenticeships are the most common ways people learn the trade. Although there’s no strict education requirement, most locksmiths prefer taking on an apprentice with a high school diploma or GED. According to the Associated Locksmiths of America (ALOA), the best classes for aspiring locksmiths to take include:

  • Mathematics
  • Mechanical drawing
  • Physics
  • Electronics
  • Metalworking
  • Business
  • English

After receiving your degree or its equivalent, you might choose to take some training classes on the craft, such as the ones offered by ALOA. Or you can begin seeking out locksmiths that might be in search of a new apprentice to take on. 

Whether in class or at a business, you’ll likely have courses on skills like key identification and making, lock installation, lock picking and security system bypassing. You’ll learn about the variances in home locks, business locks, automotive locks and so forth.

Once you become an apprentice, almost all of your training will be on-the-job work. Apprenticeships might last anywhere from three months to three or four years, depending on the breadth of skills you’re learning, how fast you pick them up and how much training your mentor requires. If you can prove you’re reliable and able to handle anything the job throws at you, you just might get an offer to be a full employee at the end of your agreement.

State Licensing

Depending on where you live, you may be able to go straight from training into working professionally as a locksmith. Are some locksmiths licensed? Yes, but it’s only necessitated by law in certain states. There are 15 states that require one to be licensed as a locksmith to perform locksmithing duties:

  • Alabama
  • California
  • Connecticut
  • Illinois
  • Louisiana
  • Maryland
  • Nebraska
  • Nevada
  • New Jersey
  • North Carolina
  • Oklahoma
  • Oregon
  • Tennessee
  • Texas
  • Virginia

If you live in any of these states, your final step in becoming a locksmith will be to become licensed by the state you’ll be practicing in. In Maryland, it is a requirement that locksmiths adhere to Title 12.5 of the Business Regulation Article, Annotated Code of Maryland, or the “Maryland Locksmiths Act.” The act requires that anyone who offers locksmith services professionally and for compensation go through the licensing process. 

The application process includes:

  • A background check with fingerprinting
  • An appointment with the licensing program
  • Proof of liability insurance
  • A fee of $225

Once you receive your license, it’s valid for two years before you’ll need to go through the renewal process.

Tools You’ll Need

Once you’re fully licensed, it’s time to get your toolbox together so you can start working! For any standard project, you can likely find all of the following in a professional locksmith’s bag:

  • A lock pick set, padlock shim and snap gun to open locks
  • Broken key extractors to remove things from key slots
  • Lock pin tumbler tweezers to pick up small fragments
  • A laser key cutter and duplicator
  • Hand-held scopes to maneuver in small spaces
  • A regular toolbox with hinges, screwdrivers and other tools that can help in unexpected circumstances

If locksmiths know they’re going to have a project in a home, apartment or car, they might bring more specialized tools, like key decoders, tension wrenches, a slim-Jim set and long reach tools. You can take a look at full toolboxes for different jobs in our essential tools blog post.

Learn More at Ernie’s Lock Company

When you contact your local neighborhood locksmith, Ernie’s Lock Company, you can do so with confidence, knowing our employees have completed their full locksmith training requirements. Furthermore, they’ve been licensed by the state to help you solve any issues that may arise.

You can see why we’re so proud of the team we have at Ernie’s Lock Company. Our staff has dedicated years of their lives to knowing exactly how to fix any lock or key you bring us or create new ones. 

You can schedule an appointment if the situation is not urgent, or you can look into our emergency lockout services. Either way, our expedient and meticulous services will get the job done for you. If you need assistance with any of your locks, contact us today so we can help you get back to your life.


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