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career as a locksmith

Unlock Your Future and Become a Master Locksmith

Becoming a locksmith requires either attending a trade school or working as an apprentice. Acquiring certifications from the Associated Locksmiths of America is highly recommended and can offer more opportunity and higher wages.

In this article we will cover everything you need to know about starting a lucrative career as a master locksmith.


Locksmith Career Overview

  • Locksmiths install and repair locks and security systems.
  • A high school diploma or GED is required to become a locksmith.
  • Locksmith training can be completed in less than 1 year.
  • Licensing is required in 15 states.
  • Career outlook for locksmiths is poor with an expected 11% decline through 2032.
  • Average locksmith salary is $46,910 annually.

Locksmiths are important to our safety and security. As a locksmith, you may install or repair locks or safes, these could be electronic or traditional locks. You will also help people when they lock themselves out of their homes, cars, or businesses.

Mastering skills to assist people with a lock and key is the priority for this job. The short educational time needed and ability to be an entrepreneur are just two reasons it is a solid choice.

In this article we will cover education and training requirements, salaries, pros and cons, and more.

Education & Training

A high school diploma or GED will be required by most employers and locksmith schools.

There are two paths you can take to get into locksmithing.

  • Apprenticeship. Working side-by-side with an experience locksmith is a great way to gain experience. You may receive a small hourly wage while working as an apprentice. For some employers, working as an apprentice can replace the need for trade school. This option may require 1-2 years of experience before you can work on your own or have enough experience to become licensed or certified.
  • Vocational/Trade School. There are many schools that offer locksmith training programs. These can last from a few weeks to up to one year. There are options for both in-person and online learning. Costs can range from a few hundred dollars to a couple of thousand for a program.

Certifications & Licensing

Licensing requirements vary by state. If you are not sure what your state requires, contact your local government agency for details.

A locksmith license is required in the following states.

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

There are also some local municipalities within other states that require certification as well.

It is highly recommended to take a locksmith training course that will teach you all the locksmithing techniques that are currently being used. ALOA, an international organization for locksmiths, offers several levels of locksmith certification including:

  • Registered Locksmith (RL)
  • Certified Registered Locksmith (CRL)
  • Certified Professional Locksmith (CPL)
  • Certified Master Locksmith (CML)
  • Safe Technician Designations: Certified Professional SafeTech (CPS) and Certified Master SafeTech (CMST).
  • Certified Automotive Locksmith (CAL)

Have a School Contact You!

Below are locksmith school options for you to consider. Share your contact information with them and a representative will contact you with more details.

Locksmith Schools

Many community colleges and technical schools offer locksmith courses to teach the ins and outs of the trade. You can view our list of locksmith trade schools to see if there is one near you.

Virtual locksmith courses are available as well, but in-person is recommended. The benefit of in-person classes is that you’ll have the opportunity to work on real customers’ locks and keys – giving you invaluable hands-on experience.

The average cost to become a locksmith depends on which route you choose. Online locksmith programs, for instance, can cost anywhere from $400 to $1,000, which covers all materials and mailed tool kits.

Opting for a locksmith school can set you back $15,000 or more. The cost simply depends upon which course you choose and the state in which you reside. 

How long it takes to get through your education will vary. Most in-person and online training/certification programs last anywhere from 2-4 months, depending on the program.

If you decide to go the apprenticeship route, that can last anywhere from six months to two years. However, that doesn’t mean you won’t be making money at that time. The average annual pay for a locksmith apprentice is $27,100. 

With enough patience, hard work, and initiative, you can be on your way to enjoying a fulfilling career as a licensed locksmith. We hope this guide has helped you determine whether it’s the right fit for you. 

Pros & Cons

Before investing time and resources to become a locksmith, it’s important first to weigh the pros and cons of becoming one.

PROS

  • Only educational requirement is a high school diploma or GED
  • Unprecedented opportunities to meet and help new people
  • Competitive salary based on location and level of expertise
  • Some opportunities even offer healthcare benefits
  • Flexible work schedule
  • Opportunity to work outdoors

CONS

  • Long, irregular hours plus some night, weekend, and holiday calls
  • Frequent requirement to work under extreme time and client pressure
  • Substantial time commitment to become an expert locksmith
  • Licensing costs can be pricey
  • Travel to unsafe areas

Career Options

Locksmiths have a variety of career paths they can choose to work in once they are licensed and educated.

1. Commercial Locksmith 

If you love working with people, this could be the perfect fit. Most commercial locksmiths either work out of their own storefront servicing the community or work specifically with small businesses and corporations such as real estate companies and law offices to fix their lock issues.

2. Mobile Locksmith

Mobile locksmithing is becoming an increasingly popular option for those new to the trade. Working out of your vehicle means low overhead and more schedule flexibility. It’s a win-win!

3. Institutional Locksmith

Are you craving more job security? This path might be for you. Institutional locksmiths typically work for universities, government facilities, hospitals, K-12 public and private schools, and more. The added bonus? Many of these positions come with medical and dental benefits.

4. Locksmith Specialists

Keep in mind that there are hundreds of specializations within locksmithing, but below are some of the more common specialties:

  • Forensic
  • Automotive
  • Master Key System
  • Security Consultant
  • Electrical Locksmith Specialist

Salaries

Locksmiths with experience can earn a very good living depending on their location, training, and area(s) of expertise. The option to start your own locksmithing business can also be very lucrative.

The median locksmith salary is $46,910 annually.

If you live in an expensive city like New York or Los Angeles, you can expect to make far more than the median income. Similarly, if you live in a smaller town, expect to make less. For a complete breakdown of salary ranges and employment potential in your state and city, visit the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics

Job Outlook

The job outlook for locksmiths is not very good through 2032. According to the BLS it is expected there will be a 11% decline through 2032. While there may not be many new jobs, there will still be opportunities to land jobs of those that are retiring or leaving the career that need to be replaced.

Resources

*Data source: Bureau of Labor Statistics