Does changing locks, cutting keys, figuring combinations, making new keys, etc., sound fun to you? If yes, than you might want to consider the unusual career choice as a locksmith. Read this article to get the key to becoming a locksmith.
Locksmiths are always needed, regardless of recession and fluctuating markets as people are always concerned about security. Moreover, it's one profession where you can do all the work on your own and get credit for it as well, no blame-game and no credit-snatching. It also gives you the freedom to move to any place you like and resume your career. If you've made up your mind to opt for this unique career, continue reading to learn how to go about becoming a locksmith.
Nature of Work
What does a locksmith do? To put it in simple words, a locksmith makes or repairs locks and keys. Apart from the basic job of making duplicate keys, there are a lot of other things that locksmiths do. They install locks, fix faulty locks, work with high-tech locks installed in hotels that use key cards and work on safes and any other place that require a lock. In addition, they advice people on the best security measures for their house or office. Some locksmiths, particularly those working for manufacturers, may also be involved in selling security devices. They also create the master key system, where required.
Qualification and Training Required
There is no fixed qualification as such required to become a locksmith. However, if you want formal education, there are different courses at different levels; you can get trained in a couple of days or weeks from a credible institution. No matter from where you study, remember, locksmithing is one industry where you will learn most of the actual work on the job. Before starting out independently, most locksmiths prefer acquiring practical skills by doing an apprenticeship with a certified locksmith. It is particularly important to get training, if you need a license.
Certification and License
It is not mandatory to get certification to become a locksmith. However, it will definitely help increase your credibility and may also be useful to get a job, that is if you do not plan to work independently. The Associated Locksmiths of America (ALOA) conducts exams and gives five designations. They are Registered Locksmith, Certified Registered Locksmith, Certified Professional Locksmith, Certified Master Locksmith, Certified Automotive Locksmith. In many states, it is mandatory to get a license before you can start working.
Working conditions vary depending on the type of job. Most locksmiths work round the clock and there is quite a bit of traveling involved. You may have to work in bad weather and uncomfortable locations for a long period of time. Otherwise working conditions are safe, and if one is working on his own, then it is completely up to him for how long he wishes to work. Some locksmiths have a small office while others prefer to work in a van, as they can carry all the locksmith tools. Operating from an office, will give you a professional look, but you can save on rent by working from home.
So, you've got the training and certification and you know what your job is going to involve. Next, you need to buy the tools. Locksmith tools can be very expensive, it's important you check a few shops before buying. Locksmiths use several tools, the five basic tools are plug spinners, computerized picks, electric pick guns, key extractors and tension wrenches. For installation and repair, there are a separate set of tools such as router drills, hammers and deadbolt installation kits.
Job Opportunities and Salary
It's best to start with an existing reputed company, to get sufficient experience before you can start working on your own. You can work with hardware and other department stores that provide locksmith services. You can also try working with the franchises of large national companies. The average salary of a locksmith is around $15 to $20 an hour. The yearly salary varies between $30,000 to $50,000 depending on how many hours you are willing to work and the marketing strategies that you use to get more customers.
Work at improving your communication skills to network effectively and get customers. Advertise if you feel the need to do so and opt for online publicity to make it easy for people to reach you. Also, be careful to follow the law at all times, or else you could find yourself in big trouble. It is also advisable to invest in an insurance to cover potential liabilities.