A locksmith is a professional who is trained in locksmithing or the skill of making locks. Of course, they are more popular for their other task, which is to open locks without the keys designed for them. Locksmiths are also professionals that design and form keys since the term also implies shaping metals.
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There is a saying in the security industry that "locks keep only honest people out." It is for this same reason that there is a huge demand for locksmiths. A lot of homeowners need the services of a locksmith when they get locked outside their homes and they are kept out by their own locks.
There is a common misconception that locksmiths only pick locks. While it is true that this is their best known task, they also do several other things. This is why not everyone can be one. Sure, anyone can easily learn how to pick locks thanks to YouTube tutorials, but one also has to know how to do the following things to be considered a well-rounded locksmith:
Create duplicate keys
Install, modify, repair and re-key locks
Sell and install safes
Not everybody can be one because of the sensitive nature of the job. There are a lot of traits that one should have to be in the locksmithing industry. Here are some of them:
A good grasp of mathematical and mechanical theories involved in locks
Amazing vision and hand to eye coordination
The ability to decide depending on the perceived depth, size and distance of the mechanisms of locks and keys
Deftness of the hands and fingers
Patience and stability
One also needs to have an in-depth knowledge of locks and keys in general. While one is not expected to know every lock and key by heart, the ability to follow written instructions can help and is therefore, a must.
Proper education and training are also very important, and it's a good idea to start as early as possible. One can start as early as high school by taking courses that involve working with metals and electronics. Working with locks also involves a lot of mathematics so taking math classes can also help. Starting early with business classes is also recommended since the best locksmiths will eventually run their own locksmithing business.
These courses and/or classes can also be taken during college, but getting on-the-job training or an apprenticeship with a professional is the best way to become one since most of the skills and knowledge will be acquired via hands-on training. A lot of locksmiths are looking for help, and anyone who has the traits listed above can qualify as a trainee.
One can expect to go on calls with the professional during on-the-job training. One should take this opportunity to learn the craft and to absorb as many information and skills as possible. This will complement the hands-on training that will be done. Sometimes, there are classes as well.
Some cities, states and countries require a license to operate legally in this industry due to the sensitive nature of the job. It is always a good idea to check first for the necessary licenses. Sometimes the locksmith association in the country offers classes that can help people get certified and licensed.
In addition, some areas may require apprenticeship. This may range from a one to four-year apprenticeship. Some areas will also require apprentices to take a test, and this is why classes and on-the-job training are important if one wants to be licensed.
Locksmiths also get continuing education by attending classes and seminars. These classes and seminars are usually provided by professional associations, and most countries have one that aims to improve their locksmithing industry. Lock manufacturers also hold these classes and seminars.
One can expect the workplace to be dominated by men since locksmithing is a male-dominated industry. However, this is not to say that there are no female locksmiths. This is especially true today when more and more women are realizing that such a career change can be profitable and exciting.
Other than that, one can expect the workplace to be just a small space with locks and keys all around. There is also a good chance that the centerpiece is a key duplicating machine. There is really no need to have some fancy workplace since locksmiths are typically on call. One can say that the workplace of locksmiths is the area or city that they're servicing.
The salary really depends on whether one is a locksmith or a self-employed locksmith who owns a locksmithing business. The salary also depends on the location and the experience, but one can expect to have a salary around the average $38,000 in the US.
Self-employed locksmiths typically earn more, especially since they will also earn from key duplication, sale of locks and the like. However, self-employed locksmiths can expect to work longer hours, especially since they are usually the ones who respond to emergency calls.