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Becoming a locksmith—like any other career—takes years of hard work and dedication. There are two basic paths to choose from in starting your locksmith training. You can attend a vocational school taking courses in locksmith specialization, eventually taking exams that will provide you the certifications and credentials you need, or you can choose to follow the path of an apprentice. An apprenticeship has for centuries been the standard way a locksmith learns and masters his craft. Being an apprentice is similar to being an intern in another field, and with hard work and dedication it can result in a lucrative and busy career. As a journeyman, a good locksmith can earn $800 to $1,000 or more in a work week that can reach 80 hours or more.
Sign up for a correspondence course to learn basic locksmith skills and terminology. Successful completion of a locksmith course will demonstrate a dedication to the field and also prepare you for the basic duties of an apprentice, making you more appealing to journeymen.
Seek out and contact locksmiths that accept apprentices. Different locksmiths have different specialties, including working with safes and even working exclusively with casinos. Choose the companies that most interest you.
Apply for apprenticeships with the locksmiths you find fitting. Sell yourself by being polite and respectful and by emphasizing the knowledge you have already gained in your correspondence coursework.
Accept the offer that best suits you. As an apprentice, learn as much as you can from your journeyman, but seek out additional education outside of the workplace through specialized courses and independent study.
Get certified by the Associated Locksmiths of America (ALOA). First you must become a Certified Registered Locksmith, then as you near the end of your apprenticeship you can take the CPL exam to become a Certified Professional Locksmith.
Apprenticeships usually last for one to four years.
If you are unable to locate an apprenticeship, there are several trade programs designed to prepare you for the work of a locksmith. These courses will provide you with the knowledge and certification required of a professional locksmith.
Once you have completed your apprenticeship and become certified, it may be easiest to seek employment with an established locksmith firm. Self-employment in the locksmith industry is extremely competitive and may not suit the less experienced locksmith.