What's Needed:

  • Most locksmiths complete formal training through a locksmith association or a certificate at a vocational school.
  • Many employers provide a period of apprenticeship for new locksmiths.
  • If you want to master safe repair and safe cracking you'll spend many years working with an expert locksmith.

What you study:

You will learn about all of the following in a locksmith training program:

  • Key Blank Identification
  • Lock Identification
  • Pin-Tumbler Locks
  • Keyable Locks
  • Lock Replacement and Removal
  • Lock Troubleshooting

Video Overview

Briefly shows the daily work of locksmiths. Created for the US Dept. of Labor.

A Day in the Life

You help customers who are locked out of buildings and vehicles.

Every day as a locksmith brings new challenges. You report to the office where you work for the afternoon shift and are immediately dispatched to assist a homeowner who has lost his keys. You drive a company truck with all of your tools to the home. After you let the man into his house you talk to him about whether or not he would like the locks changed. He's not sure where he lost his keys so you advise that it would be wise to change all exterior locks.

You repair and replace a wide variety of locks.

You write up a work order so that the customer knows how much he'll pay for the new locks and the labor to have them installed. After the customer has signed the work order you begin the installation process. You replace the locks and deadbolts on the front and back door of the house. You also replace the locking mechanism on a sliding glass door. Once you've completed the work you provide the customer with his new keys and let him know that he can have copies made at your central offices.

You use handheld tools to open or disassemble locks.

You check in with your office's dispatcher to let her know that you're available to take another job. She sends you to a local business to perform a consultation. The business owner has lost the combination to his in-office safe. You assess the safe and the lock. You'll need special tools in order to open the safe so you head out to your truck. It takes you the rest of the afternoon to open the safe. Safe-cracking is a difficult skill that takes years to master but you are pleased with how well you did today.

You can copy keys using a special cutting machine.

Before you sign back on for more calls you take a short lunch break. After you finish your lunch you radio the dispatcher and let her know that you're ready to handle calls again. She sends you to a parking lot to assist a woman who is locked out of her car. You pop the car's lock and take down the woman's emergency roadside service membership information so that your office can bill her provider.

You prepare work orders and estimates for all jobs.

You handle several more calls before your shift ends. You spend the rest of your evening assisting motorists and homeowners. Tomorrow you might work primarily with businesspeople. Variety is at the heart of your job. You head home to enjoy a relaxing night and to rest before another day of work.

Certifications and Licensing

In most states locksmiths must hold a state-issued license in order to work in this field. Licensing procedures generally include proving that you've been professionally trained in the field securing bonding or insurance and submitting to fingerprinting.

Job Flexibility

Full-time versus part-time:

You will have some freedom in terms of the schedule you work as a locksmith. However most locksmiths choose to work four 10-hour days per week or five eight-hour days per week. You may also be required to work on-call shifts.

Work location:

As a locksmith you will work in many different settings. You may work in residential commercial or industrial buildings. You may also open locks on cars safes and portable devices such as locking briefcases.

Recommended Websites

  • Associated Locksmiths of America: ALOA is the premier organization for American locksmiths working in the private industry. Prospective locksmiths will find information about education in the field and can read up on legislation that affects how the industry operates and how new locksmiths are trained.
  • Institutional Locksmiths' Association: ILA's website provides information about certification for those individuals who want to work as locksmiths for a given institution or organization. Those interested in careers in this field can find ILA chapters in their states and contact industry professionals.
  • The U.S. Department of Labor Occupational Employment Statistics for Locksmiths: While the Bureau of Labor Statistics does not publish a full occupational outlook handbook for locksmiths and safe repairers those who are interested in becoming locksmiths can consult this guide to find information about salary ranges and employment outlooks in this field.

Salaries by City

See typical salaries and ranges for this career below Shift click to sort by more than one column — for example first shift-click on state and then shift-click on salary to find best and worst salaries in each state.

StateCity / RegionTypical SalarySalary RangeJob Count% of All Jobs
AKAnchorage$36050$25K – $67K300.02%
ALMobile$34030$22K – $45K400.02%
ALMontgomery$18020$16K – $20KN/AN/A
ARFayetteville – Springdale – Rogers$26470$20K – $68KN/AN/A
AZPhoenix – Mesa – Glendale$42030$28K – $66K3400.02%
AZTucson$30120$25K – $53K1100.03%
CABakersfield – Delano$27730$21K – $53K900.03%
CALos Angeles – Long Beach – Glendale (Metro Area)$46360$30K – $62K5800.01%
CAModesto$27940$21K – $54KN/AN/A
CAOakland – Fremont – Hayward (Metro Area)$50810$37K – $64K1600.02%
CARiverside – San Bernardino – Ontario$53530$36K – $63K1400.01%
CASacramento – Arden – Arcade – Roseville$41420$31K – $49K1200.02%
CASalinas$39890$24K – $57K300.02%
CASan Diego – Carlsbad – San Marcos$46200$33K – $59K2300.02%
CASan Francisco – San Mateo – Redwood City (Metro Area)$50690$31K – $72K600.01%
CASan Jose – Sunnyvale – Santa Clara$58800$33K – $81KN/AN/A
CASanta Ana – Anaheim – Irvine (Metro Area)$41900$27K – $70KN/AN/A
CASanta Barbara – Santa Maria – Goleta$38050$26K – $58KN/AN/A
CASanta Cruz – Watsonville$30940$26K – $52K300.04%
CAStockton$36390$25K – $53K300.02%
CODenver – Aurora – Broomfield$38690$17K – $57K1500.01%
CTBridgeport – Stamford – Norwalk$29810$26K – $70K600.01%
CTNew Haven$47750$32K – $69K600.02%
CTNorwich – New London$50800$37K – $58KN/AN/A
DCWashington – Arlington – Alexandria (Metro Area)$45840$24K – $62K2700.01%
DEWilmington (Metro Area)$28900$17K – $68K400.01%
FLCape Coral – Fort Myers$33500$27K – $39KN/AN/A
FLDeltona – Daytona Beach – Ormond Beach$25610$21K – $31KN/AN/A
FLFort Lauderdale – Pompano Beach – Deerfield Beach (Metro Area)$38010$24K – $69K2900.04%
FLLakeland – Winter Haven$33000$26K – $38K400.02%
FLMiami – Miami Beach – Kendall (Metro Area)$32560$18K – $52K1800.02%
FLNaples – Marco Island$38720$30K – $66K400.03%
FLOrlando – Kissimmee – Sanford$35150$20K – $52K2400.02%
FLPalm Bay – Melbourne – Titusville$38320$24K – $61K300.02%
FLTampa – St. Petersburg – Clearwater$33820$21K – $64KN/AN/A
GAAtlanta – Sandy Springs – Marietta$43320$34K – $60K700.00%
GAAugusta – Richmond County$28790$17K – $45K500.02%
IDBoise City – Nampa$28470$25K – $38K400.01%
ILChampaign – Urbana$36830$25K – $66K500.05%
ILChicago – Joliet – Naperville (Metro Area)$41740$26K – $58K3800.01%
INFort Wayne$30230$21K – $39K500.02%
INIndianapolis – Carmel$36280$26K – $47K800.01%
KYLouisville – Jefferson County$28530$25K – $35K2400.04%
LABaton Rouge$44000$39K – $59K500.01%
LANew Orleans – Metairie – Kenner$29860$25K – $40KN/AN/A
LAShreveport – Bossier City$29710$22K – $51K500.03%
MABoston – Cambridge – Quincy (Metro Area)$46230$32K – $72K2700.02%
MASpringfield$45250$26K – $65K300.01%
MAWorcester$54510$36K – $66K500.02%
MDBaltimore – Towson$43530$23K – $58KN/AN/A
MDBethesda – Rockville – Frederick (Metro Area)$44110$31K – $66K600.01%
MIGrand Rapids – Wyoming$34590$21K – $55KN/AN/A
MILansing – East Lansing$37070$28K – $81KN/AN/A
MIWarren – Troy – Farmington Hills (Metro Area)$36060$22K – $59KN/AN/A
MNMinneapolis – St. Paul – Bloomington$47690$32K – $58K1400.01%
MOKansas City$41960$31K – $57K1100.01%
MOSt. Louis$39120$27K – $67K900.01%
MSJackson$27090$17K – $37KN/AN/A
NCCharlotte – Gastonia – Rock Hill$35390$19K – $46K400.01%
NCRaleigh – Cary$29100$25K – $43KN/AN/A
NJAtlantic City – Hammonton$54220$49K – $60K600.05%
NJCamden (Metro Area)$48800$35K – $59K700.01%
NJEdison – New Brunswick (Metro Area)$62300$37K – $73K1500.02%
NJNewark – Union (Metro Area)$52960$38K – $63K1000.01%
NJTrenton – Ewing$50830$41K – $72K400.02%
NMAlbuquerque$27260$17K – $44K700.02%
NVLas Vegas – Paradise$52630$18K – $72K1800.02%
NVReno – Sparks$40090$18K – $67KN/AN/A
NYAlbany – Schenectady – Troy$35930$22K – $52K700.02%
NYBuffalo – Niagara Falls$30810$19K – $44K800.02%
NYNassau – Suffolk (Metro Area)$37570$19K – $72K3300.03%
NYNew York – White Plains – Wayne (Metro Area)$38240$21K – $60K6100.01%
NYPoughkeepsie – Newburgh – Middletown$35810$24K – $52K500.02%
NYSyracuse$42540$22K – $56KN/AN/A
OHAkron$37950$22K – $47K600.02%
OHCanton – Massillon$31110$26K – $38KN/AN/A
OHCincinnati – Middletown$37790$23K – $55K2000.02%
OHCleveland – Elyria – Mentor$28570$25K – $48K1200.01%
OHColumbus$30180$25K – $54K1200.01%
OHYoungstown – Warren – Boardman$35530$31K – $45K400.02%
OKOklahoma City$$25K – $47K1700.03%
OKTulsa$35260$32K – $39KN/AN/A
ORPortland – Vancouver – Hillsboro$37310$26K – $69K1600.02%
PAHarrisburg – Carlisle$33870$25K – $42K400.01%
PALancaster$39880$26K – $47KN/AN/A
PAPhiladelphia (Metro Area)$24440$21K – $58KN/AN/A
PAPittsburgh$52950$36K – $62K600.01%
PRSan Juan – Caguas – Guaynabo$20520$16K – $37KN/AN/A
RIProvidence – Fall River – Warwick$41740$27K – $49KN/AN/A
TNChattanooga$30850$24K – $49K900.04%
TNMemphis$38600$31K – $48KN/AN/A
TNNashville – Davidson – Murfreesboro – Franklin$34610$25K – $46K700.01%
TXDallas – Plano – Irving (Metro Area)$37280$28K – $67K1700.01%
TXEl Paso$28300$17K – $44K300.01%
TXFort Worth – Arlington (Metro Area)$29250$25K – $45KN/AN/A
TXHouston – Sugar Land – Baytown$29580$17K – $46K4700.02%
TXLongview$32300$18K – $37KN/AN/A
TXSan Antonio – New Braunfels$33840$22K – $45K700.01%
TXWaco$24810$18K – $30K300.03%
UTOgden – Clearfield$32380$17K – $48K700.03%
UTSalt Lake City$39710$26K – $53K900.01%
VARichmond$35300$26K – $50K1100.02%
VARoanoke$29110$25K – $37K400.03%
VAVirginia Beach – Norfolk – Newport News$43280$30K – $56K800.01%
WASeattle – Bellevue – Everett (Metro Area)$46970$22K – $61K1700.01%
WATacoma (Metro Area)$36910$32K – $55K700.03%
WIMilwaukee – Waukesha- West Allis$44,080$36K – $56K1400.02%

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