As long as we live in a society where security is a need, there will be a need for locks, keys, and electronic security systems. As long as there are locks, keys, and electronic security systems, society will need people to install and repair them. It’s for this very reason that the professional locksmith trade will always be in great demand.
As you contemplate what to do with your future, you would be well-advised to consider occupations where the demand for services will always remain high. That absolutely applies to the automotive locksmith trade. Why? Do you ever see a time when cars will disappear off the streets?
To be clear, becoming a professional car locksmith will require you to do much more than slip on a uniform and hang your shingle. In fact, there are a lot of things you need to accomplish before you can get a coveted auto locksmith certificate or license.
Assuming you want to go in this direction with your career, here are the five (5) steps you will need to take.
Step 1: Secure Training and Education
Assuming you have nothing more than novice-level exposure to locksmith takes, if any at all, you’ll need to learn all you can about the trade. This will require that you educate yourself regarding what you will need to become a professional locksmith technician.
The best way to gain education and training as an automotive locksmith would be to take trade classes that train the automotive locksmiths of the future. If you do some investigation, you’ll find they are lots of colleges and trade schools that offer classes for prospective automotive locksmiths. We would like to recommend classes that are being offered by the Associated Locksmiths of America (ALOA). Regardless of where you get your education and training, it should include the following course study:
- Key Blank Identification
- The importance of Vehicle Identification Number (VIN)
- Understanding how Automotive Locks Function
- Performing Automotive Lockouts
- Automotive Lock Cylinders
- Addressing Door Problems
- American versus Foreign Automotive Locks
- Identifying locks by manufacturer: GM, Ford, Chrysler, Acura, etc.
- Cars versus Motorcycles
Step 2: Secure an Apprenticeship
Once you have gained some training and educational aptitude about the auto locksmith trade, you’ll need to start applying what you have learned to gain experience. As is the case with a lot of trades, the best way to gain experience is by securing an apprenticeship with a local professional car locksmith.
To be fair, securing an apprenticeship as a car locksmith could be challenging. Locksmiths who are running their own shops are usually “working locksmiths.” They don’t often have extra time to mentor apprentices.
Note: Signing on as an apprentice is not required to get certified or licensed. However, you can’t get certified or licensed until you have working knowledge as a car locksmith. By signing on as an apprentice, you have the benefit of being “mentored.” That can help shorten the time you will need to gain the working experience you will need for your future certification or licensing.
Step 3: Become a Certified or LIcensed Automotive Locksmith
To be clear, most states require their car locksmiths to be certified or licensed. To gain a state license, applicants will need to pass some kind of state exam. The exam tests the applicant’s knowledge of the trade.
In 11 states, the AOLA offers a formal Certified Automotive Locksmith certification. In those 11 states, this certification is accepted in lieu of state licensing.
Securing a license or certification provides two benefits. First, it opens the door to you gaining employment as a professional locksmith. Second, it opens the door to you being able to legally hang your own shingle as a state-licensed locksmith.
Step 4: Secure Employment
Once you have your state locksmith certification or license, you are free to work independently as a car locksmith. Most new car locksmiths will start their careers by gaining employment with a reputable locksmith in their area of residence. Of course, there are other places a licensed locksmith can go other than a car locksmith company. Other options might include, depending on the community:
- Car dealerships
- Auro auction houses
- Roadside companies like AAA
- Rent-a-Car companies
- Towing companies
- Corporations with large vehicle fleets
Step 5: Work Hard
The key to becoming a successful and reputable locksmith is hard work. If you work hard and built a strong reputation, you’ll get noticed. Getting noticed will open the door to you being able to hang your own car locksmith shingle at some point in the future.