Is Locksmithing a Skilled Trade?

Locksmithing is a traditional trade that requires completing an apprenticeship in many countries. It is the science and art of making and defeating locks. I have been asked many times over the years about how to become a locksmith or even just get started in the field. This article is dedicated to helping those with ambitions, questions, and more.

Before getting into the details, let's talk about trade. There are many misconceptions about this trade, and any locksmith can attest to that. Every locksmith business is unique, whether it's a man and his truck or one with dozens of service vehicles. Some specialize in automotive, commercial, safes, residential, access control, or all of them.

Successful locksmith companies have identified their niche and become competent at it. Secondly, we do much more than just “keys and locks”. Yes, keys and locks are an important part of most locksmiths, but we do much more. Some install and repair access control or card transfer systems.

Others install new doors and frames or open safes or move safes. Some do video surveillance or CCTV. In other words, if you're interested in becoming a locksmith, there's much more to do than keys and locks. A complete locksmith is part carpenter, part electrician and part mechanic. The best way to get an apprentice position is to get in touch with locksmith companies face-to-face.

Call and ask nearby locksmith companies if they are currently hiring apprentices. Stop by and meet them. Express that you are interested in learning the trade and making it a career. Explain why you chose the operation and what interests you about it. Most locksmith companies that hire apprentices want people who are punctual, have a good attitude, are honest, have clean criminal and DMV records, and have a little mechanical aptitude.

If you have previous experience in a trade or military, this bodes well for your possibilities. Locksmith companies don't have a plan or agreement for apprentice positions (although states like New Jersey have guidelines for apprenticeships that are linked to their licenses). Some companies have experience with apprentices and know the methodology to make the apprentice progress in a timely and appropriate manner. Joining ALOA (Association of Security Professionals) can greatly increase your success and establish contacts in this trade. I don't know the owner of a locksmith business who doesn't recognize the value of education (ALOA). Classes can cost money but for someone trying to get started in the industry, it's another great investment to show potential employers that you're serious about success in the industry and that you have a quality education. ALOA membership also includes a subscription to the monthly trade magazine Keynotes which has a wealth of information that will help you learn about this trade.

Classes and continuing education are important for any locksmith or apprentice, or even for those trying to enter the industry. Remember what I said about being in control of how fast you learn and are profitable for your employer or improving your value to potential employers? Take advantage of classes offered by ALOA and its local association and chapters. Also check with any local reseller such as Anixter or IDN. All of these are valuable to show to current or potential employers as they demonstrate learning and progress as well as adding value not only for you but also for your employer. ASSA ABLOY offers a series of online classes at its ASSA ABLOY University of the Americas which offer a wealth of information free of charge. Another great source of information are the manufacturers' websites which contain links to several white papers with generalized information that can help teach you.

Kathe Menze
Kathe Menze

Infuriatingly humble internet junkie. Passionate zombie junkie. Extreme bacon guru. Passionate social media advocate. Infuriatingly humble music scholar.

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