How to Become a Locksmith

Everything to Know About Becoming a Locksmith

Are you interested in being a locksmith? You may be wondering: What skills are required? How much do locksmiths make? What training is needed? And more. As the owner of a locksmith company, I wrote this article to help you understand how to become a locksmith. The answer depends on several factors, one of the biggest is where you live. In general:

To become a locksmith you will need to: obtain the necessary locksmithing skills, obtain required state certification, pass a background check, purchase the proper tools and equipment, and have a strong desire to help people. The exact requirements on locksmith training and certifications will vary by state.

Jump to:

Educational Requirements to be a Locksmith
Background Screenings to be a Locksmith
Training Needed to be a Locksmith
How Long Does it Take to Become a Locksmith
The Tools and Equipment Needed to be a Locksmith


Locksmith Requirements

The requirements to become a locksmith vary by state. To become a locksmith you will need to pass security and drug screenings, completing informal or formal training, and gain any licenses and required certifications for your state.

Educational Requirements – Training to be a Locksmith

There is no formal educational requirement to be a locksmith (think diploma), but most business owners would prefer someone that has completed their high-school diploma or equivalency.

I’ve hired locksmiths with experience that had neither, but I wouldn’t hire an apprentice without one of those.

Maturity is the main criteria of being a locksmith, not education. You will be entrusted with a lot of your client’s security information, and you’ll need to be mature and responsible enough to handle it professionally.

This is why I require at least a high school GED or Diploma to train. If a candidate isn’t responsible / mature enough to obtain those, I won’t trust them with my customer data.

Pass Background Clearance Checks

Most companies will run both a drug screening and security background check on any candidates before hiring them for a entry-level locksmith position. I will not hire any candidate that has any criminal background or fails a drug screening for illegal substances.

We train people to get into homes and cars and not having our locksmiths complete those checks would be irresponsible of us as a community business.

At last count, 15 states currently require a background check as part of their state locksmith license requirements.

In most of those states you can work as a locksmith apprentice or helper to obtain experience without licensing, so long as you are supervised by a licensed locksmith. That experience will be needed if you go out on your own as most states will require a specified number of years of experience be obtain your license.

Background checks and drug screenings are a standard part the state locksmith licensing process.

State Licensing Requirements

The states that currently required locksmiths to be licensed are Alabama, California, Connecticut, Illinois, Louisiana , Maryland , Nebraska, Nevada, New Jersey, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Oregon, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia.

Below is a list of resources that specify how to become a locksmith for the states that require licensing.

Several states require locksmith companies to be licensed. While many states don’t, obtaining a contractor license is always good business practice to add to your franchises value & differentiation. Below are links to the licensing parties for states that require locksmiths to be licensed.

ALABAMA Electronic Security Board

CALIFORNIA Department of Consumer Affairs/Bureau of Security & Investigative Services

CONNECTICUT Department of Consumer Protection

ILLINOIS Division of Professional Regulation

LOUISIANA State Fire Marshal’s Office

NEBRASKA County Clerk’s Office
Contact local County Clerk’s office

NEW JERSEY Division of Consumer Affairs

NEW YORK CITY Department of Consumer Affairs

NEVADA County Sheriff’s Office
Contact local county Sheriff’s office

NORTH CAROLINA Locksmith Licensing Board

OKLAHOMA State Department of Health

OREGON Department of Commerce & Insurance

TENNESSEE Department of Commerce & Insurance

TEXAS Department of Public Safety Security Board
Texas Exam Info

VIRGINIA Department of Criminal Justice Services



Getting the Training to be a Locksmith

Training to be a locksmith will consist mostly of on-the-job training and the states that require locksmith to become licensed will require a set number of years of one-the-job training.

For novices wanting to differentiate themselves over the other candidates trying to become locksmiths and get into the business as an apprentice, there are a few training options that will set you apart from the rest.

  • Mail in locksmith courses.
    Training is conducted via video and parts are mailed to the trainee to be worked on and mailed back to be graded. This is the least valuable training as you get the least amount of exposure to the locks and keys you will eventually be working on. But it is an affordable way to try it out, see if you have the aptitude for it and enjoy it. It will also demonstrate that you have a high level of commitment to the lock profession to those you interview with.
  • Locksmith training classes.
    There are companies that focus exclusively on training and offer a traditional classroom style training. If you operate best in a well-structured type of program these locksmith courses are the ones to take. The Associated Locksmiths of America has a list of schools that offer their training certifications. Lockmasters is one training center on that list we’ve used in the past to train our entry level locksmiths on some specialty skills with good success.
  • Locksmith training in a real locksmith environment.
    Some companies, like mine, offer training in a non-classroom environment. Our locksmith training is one-on-one in a functioning lock shop. You work on real customer locks and keys so the level of exposure is much better than that offered by mail-in lock training programs. Our Basic Residential Lock Training program is 20 hours. And we offer an Introductory Automotive Locksmith training program as well.

No matter which path you decide, to become a locksmith and proceed with training, you need to know that you will not have become a fully trained locksmith when basic lock training is done.

You’ll understand the basics and premises, but it takes years of exposure to various locks and locking systems to really be considered proficient.

Think of training at the entry level as something you have to do in order to gain a leg up over the competition to get that entry-level locksmith apprenticeship.

How Long Does it Take to Become a Skilled Locksmith

To be a locksmith you need experience! But how much do you need? If you’re working for a busy local locksmith company, we have found the following timelines are a good guide when determining how long it takes to be a locksmith:

  • You will be “apprenticing” for 6 months to 2 years. At about 6 months you will be able to handle the majority of residential locks and can do light commercial work.
  • An additional 6-12 months of experience will get you to the point where you can handle most automotive locksmith tasks if your training is focused entirely on the automotive skills. If it is not, it will take longer.
  • We consider locksmiths with 3-6 years experience entry to mid-level locksmiths. Productive employees that have the majority of locksmithing skills but lack some of the more complex skills associated with, primarily; safe opening, high-end commercial and industrial work.
  • After 6 years at my company we consider you to be a senior locksmith even though you may lack some of the very top-level skills in a particular area. At this level of locksmithing, locksmiths have usually picked an area they wanted to focus in and become very good at it, but in doing so may not know some of the more advanced locksmith skills in another area of the locksmith trade.
    Note: We do not handle a lot of industrial work or wired security systems. So at other companies this time may be considerably longer. At ACME Locksmith after 6 years you would have at least seen nearly all we can throw at you in our market.


The above are the levels I consider at my company. They will vary by company. But there are certifications you can get that will state your experience and are recognized throughout the lock and security industry.

What Tools Do You Need to be a Locksmith?

Ready to become a locksmith? Check out our post on The Tools Locksmiths Use to see what you will need and what you will be using when you become a locksmith.