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A locksmith in the modern world isn't just someone who can open the door when you've locked yourself out or change the locks for you after a nasty breakup. Modern entry systems go well beyond deadbolts into state-of-the-art, high-tech "internet of things" devices with microprocessor controls and smartphone apps, and locksmiths must be able to work with them all. In the province of British Columbia, training and certification for locksmiths is administered by the Industry Training Authority, or ITA.
Locksmith Training in BC
There are two main paths to certification as a locksmith in BC:
- Sign up for a formal apprenticeship program overseen by the ITA.
- Work in the field without undertaking a formal apprenticeship and eventually challenge the certification exam.
In either case, you'll need to find work with a currently licensed locksmith who is willing to take you on, train you and supervise your work while you learn on the job.
The Apprenticeship Track
The apprenticeship track can begin as early as high school through the province's secondary school apprenticeship as long as you're able to find an employer willing to take you on. Whether you start your apprenticeship during school or after graduation, you'll need to submit an application to the ITA and a sponsorship/apprenticeship form signed by your sponsoring employer.
Assuming you pass the necessary background checks, the ITA will issue you a certificate of apprenticeship that formalizes your working relationship with your sponsor. It also reassures any potential clients that you have passed the province's screening process and that you work under the supervision of a qualified locksmith.
The Certification Exam
The ITA's program guide for locksmithing details the skills and knowledge you're expected to acquire during your training period. You can augment your hands-on learning with self-study materials or by taking courses from a recognized provider. Once you've completed no fewer than 3,600 hours of supervised work experience, you're eligible to take the ITA's certificate of qualification exam.
If you pass with a minimum score of 70 percent, and your sponsor recommends you for certification, you'll be awarded your certificate of qualification. This identifies you as a fully qualified and certified locksmith, able to work independently and in turn train apprentices of your own.
The Challenge Track
Training at home to be a locksmith isn't a viable option in British Columbia, but if you can find a locksmith to hire you, it's possible to use self-study materials or private courses to help you prepare for certification. As of summer 2019, there was no BCIT locksmith course, and the ITA's website showed no courses at any of the provincially operated trade schools.
On this track, you'll be required to log a total of at least 5,400 hours of work experience in the trade, which takes approximately three years as opposed to the two years needed under the apprenticeship model. You'll need to take the same certificate of qualification exam and pass with a minimum score of 70 percent. If you succeed, you'll receive the same certificate of qualification.
Locksmith Security Requirements
Since a locksmith's skill set lends itself very well to illegal activities, applicants must qualify for a British Columbia security worker license. First, you must be legally entitled to work in Canada. Aside from Canadian citizens, that includes landed immigrants and other permanent residents and those with work or study permits.
Other prerequisites include but aren't limited to:
- Proof of identity
- A passport-quality photograph
- Digital fingerprints
- Criminal record, police information and correctional record checks
Applicants must also speak English fluently enough to interact with the public and be at least 19 years of age, though a locksmith under supervision as an apprentice can be as young as 16. Police and peace officers are not eligible to hold a security worker license.
- British Columbia Industry Training Authority: Program Outline - Locksmith
- British Columbia Industry Training Authority: Industry Training Program Profile - Locksmith
- Province of British Columbia: Qualifying for a Security Worker Licence
- Province of British Columbia: Security Worker Licensing
- Trades Training BC: BC Trades Training Seat Finder
- Mr. Locksmith: Become a Locksmith
Fred Decker is a prolific freelance writer based in Atlantic Canada. He was educated at Memorial University of Newfoundland and the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology. Aside from CareerTrend, he's written career-related information for TheNest.com and the website of the Houston Chronicle.