Every key opens a lock and there are billions of keys in the world. How many keys do you carry? If you lose one who would you call? A professional locksmith can get you out of any lock dilemma.
Locksmiths are experts who create, install, modify, adjust, repair, open, and recommend mechanical and electronic locks. Locks can be found on buildings, doors, car ignitions, safes, desks, electronics, padlocks, luggage, handcuffs, windows, or fences.
A safecracker is a locksmith who works primarily with safes. Locks are a safety measure that protects people and valuables.
Whenever people need a new lock or key, want a lock recommendation, or lose a key they contact a professional locksmith. Every day nearly 28,000 locksmiths go to work in the United States. They work in locksmith shops, mobile lock units, government agencies, lock companies, hardware stores, or are self-employed.
Locksmiths must be able to disassemble and reassemble locks. An in depth knowledge of locks allows them to fabricate, fix, and defeat any lock or safe. A locksmith needs to be able to fix tumblers, adjust springs, remove broken keys, re-key locks, and change combinations. They use screwdrivers, pliers, tweezers, lock picks, broken key extractors, drills, files, and hammers. Some locksmiths duplicate and copy keys with keycutting machines.
Every lock is different and this gig requires specialized training. Locksmiths advise people on the best types of locks available and what type of lock will work for every situation. Electronic locks are big right now and involve combinations and electronics rather than old-fashioned keys.
Each day is different. A locksmith may unlock a BMW in the grocery store parking lot, re-key a condominium, or recommend the world’s best deadbolt. Locksmiths may work in a store, but they also travel in a mobile workshop that brings the tools and the trade to any location. They need to be able to respond to emergency lockouts and fix malfunctioning locks around the clock.
Locksmith apprenticeships offer on the job training. Some locksmiths attend locksmith school. Many states require locksmiths to be licensed and bonded. They may need to supply fingerprints and submit a criminal background check – the skills of a locksmith in the wrong hands could be bad news.
A professional locksmith can earn certifications through the Associated Locksmiths of America (ALA) or the Safe and Vault Technicians Associaion (SAVTA). Certification cover topics like codes and code equipment, cylinder servicing, key blank identification, key duplication, key impressioning, professional lock opening techniques, lockset functions and servicing, basic key mastering, cabinet, furniture and mailbox locks, domestic or foreign automotive, alarms, time locks, safe deposit locks, and safe combinations.
The ALA and SAVTA offer certifications like registered locksmith, certified registered locksmith, certified professional locksmith, certified master locksmith, certified safe technician, or certified master safe technician.
Certification shows a dedication to the trade and highlights any specialty skills a locksmith may have.
A professional locksmith can earn $27,000 to $60,000 per year or $12 to $20 per hour. They can make more if they are self-employed or are on call at night. Locksmithing is a stable profession because people will always rely on keys, safes, and locks to safeguard their valuables. A day in the life of a locksmith isn’t quite like the pop culture portrays in movies like the Italian Job, Ocean’s Eleven, or Safe Men, but it is an exciting career.
Locksmith will always be needed. There is a constant demand for security and people will always lose keys, forget combinations, and need someone to open their locks.
Quick Facts Locksmith Work
Job Title: Locksmith, Safecracker
Office: Mobile Offices, Stores
Description: Create, install, modify, adjust, open, repair, and recommend locks
Certifications/Education: Apprenticeships, ALA certifications recommended
Necessary Skills: Mechanical skills, Knowledge of Locks
Potential Employers: Self-employed, Locksmith Shops, Government, Lock Companies, Hardware Stores
Pay: $27,000 to $60,000 per year or $12 to $20 per hour
Associated Locksmiths of America
Institutional Locksmiths’ Association
Society of Professional Locksmiths
National Locksmith Magazine
Safe and Vault Technicians Association
The Locksmith Wiki