Simply put, a locksmith is someone who makes and repairs locks, including the lock on a front door, a padlock for a locker, or even a safe for valuable belongings. Locksmiths train in how to build, disassemble, repair, and replace all sorts of locks, safes, and alarm systems. A traveling locksmith would be the one to help you when you lock your keys in your car, and you don’t have a spare. You could take your house key to a locksmith shop to get an extra copy made for a family member. There are many ways a locksmith can help people secure their homes, businesses, and personal items.
Locksmithing has evolved dramatically over the past few decades as technology has grown in capabilities and prevalence in everyday life. What once only dealt with mechanical objects with completely visible components now includes machines that require significant training to build and repair. This applies especially to digital locks, vehicle entry, and home security systems. The job description and possible requirements of practicing this trade have grown as the types of locks and security measures have increased in number and complexity. If you are thinking about becoming a locksmith, you need to know what the job description is and whether you have the qualifications necessary for this career path.
Locksmith Job Responsibilities
Being a locksmith is not a job that looks exactly the same in every setting. Different companies may have various tasks for their workers. What one employer requires a locksmith to take care of, another employer may separate into multiple departments or positions. However, there is a general understanding of what many locksmiths should know how to do.
This is a very basic responsibility that every locksmith should be equipped to do. Duplicating keys and cutting new keys is one of the most common requests of a locksmith’s clients.
Locking Mechanism Repair And Maintenance
A locksmith must know how to disassemble a lock, and sometimes a safe, in order to check and repair any pieces that have sustained damage or have worn out from age.
Locking Mechanism Installation
As a locksmith, you will likely be required to install a new lock system, safe, or alarm system in a residence or place of business. This may include panic or emergency systems for doors. Should an employer require you to sell locks or alarms, your knowledge prior to installation will make recommendations much easier.
If someone loses a key, locks his or her keys in a vehicle or forgets the combination to a safe, a locksmith will be called to open the lock. He or she needs to have knowledge of the anatomy of locking mechanisms and safe systems, as well as the equipment necessary to solve the problem.
Educating customers - Locksmiths should communicate what a client must do to use and care for his or her locks, alarms, or safes properly, which also makes the future responsibilities of the locksmith easier when performing maintenance or repairs on a product.
If you wish to work for a locksmith company, there will likely be more specialized responsibilities, mostly dealing with locks and safes, but if you were to serve as the locksmith to another business, your tasks would vary more broadly.
Locksmith Education Requirements And Specialty Training
Many locksmith jobs require no education past high school, but many do require a high school diploma or GED. Some positions do not need any formal education at all but instead focus on your experience in the field, setting a minimum number of years you must have under your belt with the trade. Many who pursue locksmithing learn their skills by working with someone experienced in the trade. While on-the-job training is very common, some states do require a locksmith to obtain a license to carry out certain tasks. In Nevada, a locksmith must get a license from the county authorities, and the requirements for a permit varies at the discretion of the county sheriff. 14 other states require some type of licensure, and in all of them, the licenses are issued at the state level. The states are Oklahoma, Texas, New York, Oregon, Illinois, Maryland, Louisiana, Alabama, California, Virginia, New Jersey, Connecticut, Nebraska, and North Carolina. The state of New York is unique in that a state license is required, but there are also counties within the state that require licenses from local authorities as well.
There are no shared standards across all states for the qualifications or competency required to become a licensed locksmith, so getting your license in one state does not necessarily mean you will have the freedom to practice the trade in another. However, for most states, a background check is unavoidable. Most states also require an exam to establish your skills, knowledge, or both. You may also be asked by certain employers to partake in a local course to receive certification for a specific locksmithing skill.
Locksmith Salary Expectations And Employment Options
As more buildings, whether commercial or residential, are built, the demand for security measures increases. People feel less secure now than they have in decades past and feel a greater need to protect their homes, families, and belongings. Locksmithing is not a highly pursued field of work, but as the industry grows and more workers are needed, it may be a great opportunity for those new to the trade. While the field is growing throughout the United States, not all states have equal opportunities. In fact, states differ dramatically in employment opportunities and wage averages.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics offers a lot of information about each state in three different categories: annual mean wage, overall employment, and location quotient. The states with the best annual mean salary are California, Utah, Alaska, North Dakota, South Carolina, Pennsylvania, New York, Connecticut, Manhattan, and New Hampshire. The wages for these states vary from just under $46,000 to almost $69,000 a year. Alaska is the front-runner with an annual mean salary of $68,380. This salary breaks down to an hourly wage of roughly $33. With a location quotient of 1.12, however, Alaska is barely above average. It comes in close to last in employment at only 40, which keeps it in the lowest employment bracket.
Naturally, larger states or those with a large number of metropolitan cities have the highest employment rates for locksmiths. Keep in mind that employment rates do not include those who are self-employed. The same is true for location quotients. The top one dozen states in employment are Florida, Illinois, Michigan, Georgia, Texas, Virginia, New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, New Jersey, California, and Washington. Texas and California share first place in employment with 1,880. Texas beats out California for employment per thousand jobs with 0.16 to California’s 0.11 but has a mean annual salary of roughly $40,400 which is about $14,000 less than California’s average salary of almost $54,500. Neither of their location quotients is impressive, with Texas at 1.29 and California at 0.92, both close to average.
Only 10 states have a location quotient at or higher than 1.25. They are Washington, Montana, North Dakota, Texas, Louisiana, Alabama, Florida, New Jersey, Maine, and Rhode Island. Of these, only New Jersey and Rhode Island exceed 2.0 with 2.13 and 2.99 respectively. The annual mean wage information is unavailable for Rhode Island, but New Jersey has an average yearly salary of $44,810, which is slightly above the national average of $42,730. Surely due to the size of the state, Rhode Island has fairly low total employment at 170, but a decent 0.37 employment per thousand jobs. New Jersey’s total employment is 1,050 with 0.26 employment per thousand jobs.
Industries also have drastically different numbers in each of these areas. Investigative and security service companies provide the majority of measured positions with more than 12,500. This industry also has the highest percent of industry employment at 1.38 percent. The mean annual salary, however, is lower than the national average at just under $40,000 a year. The highest paying industries are architecture and engineering services and local governments. Unfortunately, architecture and engineering services have low employment rates at 40, but local governments come in more towards the middle at almost 400. Higher education institutions, hospitals, and building contractors also pay locksmiths a higher average salary than the national mean, all of their averages exceeding $55,000.
While the highest paying jobs in this trade will be more difficult to obtain, you can still pursue this career path with confidence. Even the lowest recorded wages exceed minimum wage, and the average locksmith job offers roughly $20 per hour. For a job that doesn’t require a college degree, these wages are impressive and well worth the time and effort necessary to obtain licenses or certifications. With on-the-job training, anyone with a desire and ability to learn the trade can become a successful locksmith.