Did you know the locksmith trade is over 2,000 years old?
The first pin and tumbler key-based lock (a type of lock that is still used today) ever discovered dates back nearly 2,500 years to the time of the Assyrian empire. Early locksmiths built their mechanisms by hand. In fact, the word “locksmith” is a combination of the word “lock”and “smith”, from “blacksmith.” Early locksmiths probably started out as blacksmiths, since they had to be familiar with forging steel into the complex mechanisms that would then be built into locks.
Over time however, the reponsibilities of the locksmith has changed. Of course, they still work with traditional types of locks and keys, but the professional locksmith now works primarily with digital security and other more modern mechanisms. Because of the vast number of “systems” this type of professional must be intimately familiar with, any person interested in this trade must complete intensive locksmith training.
Job Duties of a Locksmith
Before discussing the specifics of locksmith training, let’s talk about what the locksmith of the 21st century actually does. Making keys, replacing keys, and repairing locks for automobiles, homes, and businesses are some of the more basic functions of the modern day locksmith. However, this professional also focuses on the installation of high quality locksets, as well as the design, installation, and management of both key control and keying systems.
In addition to this, the locksmith plays a major role in servicing of electronic locks.
This includes such things as vehicles equipped with transponders, access control systems used by major corporations and government agencies, and many additional high-tech systems. Often, this individual must conduct research and make an analysis to determine the degree of risk a person or business is exposed to, make an appropriate recommendation, and then carry out work to implement the best locking or security solution. Depending on the requirements of the customer, a lockmsith may be responsible for developing security “layers”; different systems designed to thwart a potential threat. The complexity of these systems also will be contigent on the customer and the value of the items or data they are protecting.
The simplest tasks performed by the locksmith – like making keys and duplicates – is not terribly complicated, and generally does not require much in the way of training. However, since today’s locksmith is part locksmith, part security consultant and part digital access / key control technician, this profession does require extensive locksmith training.
Such training broadens your horizons to new, related careers, too. In fact, there are many people who initially went through locksmith training, spent years working as a traditional locksmith, but then decided to move on to something more challenging and rewarding. Examples of related careers include forensic locksmith, security consultant, and others. Here’s a brief overview of some related careers…
- Investigational Locksmith: Also referred to as a forensics locksmith, this professional is responsible for researching and analyzing different scenarios and systems while working in connection with law enforcement to identify criminals and serve as an expert witness in a court of law.
- Security Consultant: For this, the locksmith would offer consultation services to both business and homeowners regarding the most effective type of locks or security systems that offer optimal protection. In this role, the locksmith would review the current locking or security system used and potential risks, and then based on this information, offer recommendations for improvement. This can include developing multiple layers of security, as discussed earlier.
- Automotive Lock Specialist: Works primarily with automobile locking and anti-immobilization systems.
- Master Key System Specialist: Specializing in developing and maintaining complex access systems for companies and businesses.
- Safe / Vault Technician: Most of todays conventional locks are of the mass-produced, machine-made type. The exceptions to this are the extremely specialized, custom made safes and vaults (usually found in banks, casinos, etc), that accordingly, require qualified technicians to maintain them.
For these more specialized tasks, more extensive classroom and hands-on training would be mandated, and the appropriate certification acquired. This is in addition to regular locksmith training, of course.
Choosing the Right Locksmith Training School
The three most common levels of certification include Certified Registered Locksmith, Certified Professional Locksmith, and Certified Master Locksmith.
Two primary options exist for locksmith training. Let’s look at the options…
- Work under the supervision of a master locksmith as an apprentice. While the pay earned would be significantly less than that of a certified locksmith, this is an excellent means of learning, and you are earning some salary, which may not be possible if you’re proceeding through regular training.
- Proceed through formal locksmith training, whether via a vocational school, standard college or university, locksmith training school, or an online accredited source.
More than 100 different courses are available through the Associated Locksmiths of America where curriculum covers an array of fields for this profession.
Coursework and Certification
As part of locksmith training, you will learn methods of identifying and duplicating keys, troubleshooting different locking mechanisms, systems, and assemblies, understanding safety issues and potential risks, learning locksmith terminology, and more. Along with classroom studies, locksmith training includes a significant amount of hands-on learning, which is essential for success.
With locksmith training complete, certification would prove a person’s level of proficiency.
There are different levels of certification with three of the more recognized being the Certified Registered Locksmith, Certified Professional Locksmith, and Certified Master Locksmith. Then as mentioned, additional locksmith training and certification would be required when entering a specialized field.
To become certified, an individual would first complete required locksmith training and then take several written tests that address 10 mandatory areas of expertise. These are provided below, giving you the opportunity to prepare…
- Basics of Master Keying
- Cabinet, Mailbox, and Furniture Locks
- Code and Code Equipment
- Cylinder Service
- Key Blank Identification
- Key Duplication
- Key Impression
- Lockset Functions
- Lockset Servicing
- Professional Lock Opening Techniques
With the 250-question examination taken and passed with a minimum of 70% of questions being answered correctly, certification would be awarded. Keep in mind that the examination for certification covers just 10 areas but in all, 26 categories would be tested on specific to elective examinations that would be for specialized locksmith fields.