When faced with the predicament of having lost their house or car keys, people often turn to a locksmith to help them change their locks, or install new ones around the house. As a locksmith, you may also be called on to help people who have been locked out of their homes or cars. A locksmith's career path typically begins in a college program or trade school, followed by a period of on-the-job training.
Receive your high school diploma or GED. Many locksmiths are giving serious consideration to earning an advanced degree from an accredited college or technical school. For example, the City University of New York (CUNY) offers a five-month, 90-hour program teaching students to keying technique and lock installation.
Complete a two-year full-time apprenticeship. You may also gain experience by taking classes through a trade association or institution like the Associated Locksmiths of America, North Carolina Locksmith’s Association or Lockmasters. Still, most locksmiths begin their career in an apprenticeship.
Submit an licensure exam application to the state board at least 15 days before the test date, along with the $200 application fee. The test is offered four times a year: in February, May, August and November. The February and August exams are administered in Charlotte, while those taking the test in May or November must travel to Raleigh. The exam itself will cover such concepts as lockset servicing, key blank identification and safe combination locks.
Pass the three-hour, 225 question state licensure exam by scoring at least a 70 percent. You must have an examination registration confirmation letter from the board to take the exam. If there are no immediate test dates when you apply for licensure, you may still apply for a license, but you will still have to pass the exam at a later date.
Register for licensure by submitting an application to the board, along with a number of supplementary documents, including a criminal history report, notarized authorization for records release form and a complete set of fingerprints. Visit the board's website for a complete list of necessary documentation. In addition, there is a $100 issuance fee to receive your license.
Complete 24 hours of continuing education to renew your license every three years. Consult the board's website for a list of approved regional and national organizations that offer continuing-education opportunities (see Resources).