If you see locksmithing as a future career, the first thing we recommend is doing your homework. Becoming a locksmith requires a lot of research.
As the UK’s largest locksmith association we have put together this expert guide on everything you need to know about starting your career as a locksmith.
On this page, we will tell you what qualifications are required, how long it takes to become a locksmith to what start-up costs are involved.
1. Learning duration
2. Things to consider
3. Services to offer
5. Start up cost
6. Course advice
7. Free Training
12. Who To Speak To
It may be an understatement but one of the most popular questions we regularly get asked is the first question below:
1. How long does it take to learn to be a locksmith?
It can take around 3-4 years to become a fully competent locksmith even after taking a 5-day training course. As a locksmith, you are always learning and need to keep up to date with new products and industry related standards changes such as lock standards.
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Fastest Way to be a locksmith
The most popular & quickest way is by attending a beginner’s locksmith course where you learn from how to cut keys, setup key machines to opening & fitting locks.
We run a 5-day locksmith course perfect for beginners click here to see what you can learn during the week.
Some attendees set-up their own business immediately after taking our modular courses, gaining experience starting with small jobs and working their way up to larger projects.
Shortcut to Becoming a Locksmith
The amount of time taken to become a locksmith may be reduced if you were previously a carpenter, joiner or someone with good dexterity/mechanical/electronic skills.
Those who don’t set up their own business go down the employed route or take on a role with as a trainee locksmith.
Please read our training FAQ page with over 25 questions answered related to our courses.
Become a Auto Locksmith
For those who are looking to become a car locksmith this area of locksmithing will require attending a training course for auto locksmiths which is a specific niche.
2. Things to Consider
Before you even start about becoming a locksmith there’s some research we recommend below:
Location: Where will you be working?
- Will you cover a certain radius of the area you in?
- Or will you just concentrate on working in one specific area?
Your Area: What’s the market like?
- Is the area a cash-rich area?
- Is your area a high crime area?
Competition: How many locksmiths in your area?
- Look on Google Maps for example and see what the competition is like in your local area
- Check whether they are actually local locksmiths or nationals parading as locals
- How many locksmiths specialising in certain services ( e.g 24 hour, auto) operate in your area?
- Is there many safe opening experts in your location?
- How many 24 Hour locksmiths are in your town?
Some areas are overpopulated with locksmiths and you may struggle to make it.
3. What Services as a Locksmith Should I Offer?
If you think the area can support the services of a locksmith then you should ask yourself the following questions:
Questions to ask yourself
- What services will you be offering?
- More importantly what services are required by the customers?
- Will you be doing domestic work or commercial?
- Auto? Safes? Access Control? Electrical security etc.
- Will you be a 24 Emergency Mobile Locksmith?
There are so many facets to locksmithing and areas of specialization. Once the basics have been covered you need to create a locksmith business plan and be realistic with your costs!
4. What is the average salary of a locksmith?
The average salary of a locksmith can vary and is dependant on a locksmiths experience, as a ballpark figure you can be looking to earn the following:
- Trainee: £16,000
- Experienced: £20,000-£25,000
- Highly Experienced: £30,000
The wage of a locksmith will depend on many different factors such as:
- Working hours – a lot of locksmiths offer a ’24 hour emergency service’ for out of hours work.
- Self-employed or working for a company – you may earn a lot more money if you go the self-employed route.
- The services you offer – if you limit yourself to just one area, this could impact your salary.
You could alternatively ask trading locksmiths about salaries in our training Facebook group.
5. Start-up cost: how much does it cost to become a locksmith?
Initial Training Course
Our beginner’s courses cost from £295 for a 1-day module to £1525 for our 5-day beginner’s course.
For specific prices of each course please see our training section for the prices of courses.
Once you have completed a course and should you decide to set up as self-employed you should think about the following:
- Locksmith Tools – such as key cutting machines, lock picks, hand tools ( drills, screwdrivers, chisels etc.. )
- Stock – locks, hinges, handles etc…
- Vehicle – will you purchase a van? or use your current transport
- Petrol costs – for getting to jobs
- Insurance – for a vehicle ( insurance will change once you state it is used for business purposes ) and business
- Marketing/Advertising – setting up a website, creating business logos, advertising online and in-print etc..
A lot of the above will depend on what area of locksmith services you will offer.
Investment in equipment – Safe engineers will need to invest in scopes ( examining internal of safes ), auto locksmiths will require heavy investment in electronic programming equipment to deal with modern vehicles.
BE A SAFE CRACKER: We run a specialist 2 day safe opening course for anyone who wishes to open safes.
Talk to local locksmiths to see if any are looking to retire and sell the business in the near future – there may be a deal to be done where they can train you up and you’ll eventually have a business already with a customer base.
6. Taking a training course to become a locksmith
If you want to undertake a locksmithing course then again do your homework.
We run a range of training courses for beginners new to locksmithing.
Questions to ask about training
Below are some tips to help you choose the correct training course for you.
- Speak to as many people as you can and try to get referrals from people who have undertaken courses previously to see what they think.
- Talk to the training provider (and visit their premises if possible)
- Find out the training providers background and the amount of experience they have.
- Are they trading locksmiths themselves – Some people set up as training companies after only recently having taken a short course themselves!
Next we will cover how you can attend free training classes and seminars.
7. FREE Training Courses
Yes we said FREE.
It’s worth talking to locksmith suppliers & manufacturers as they often run training courses, some of which may be Free.
Once you become a locksmith access to free training is available.
Read our free locksmith training course list here.
Those who become members of the MLA can attend free training classes at regional meetings across the UK, and also cheap training classes tailored to members.
FREE Classes & Seminars at MLA Expo
There will be over 80 courses and seminars run at Europe’s largest locksmith in 2021.
30 courses will be free over the 3 days and there is even on vehicle training for those who want to learn to be auto locksmiths.
8. Skills required
The Skills to be a locksmith range from as follows:
- Good dexterity
- Practical Skills ( are you good with your hands? )
- Problem Solving
- Attention to Detail
- Communication Skills ( dealing with customers )
For the Skills you need to be a locksmith please click here some of our approved locksmiths reveal skills they use each day.
9. Is there a nationally recognised qualification for locksmithing?
We are working on developing an Ofqual regulated nationally recognised qualification with the specialist awarding body ABBE (Awarding Body for the Built Environment).
Most Recognised Locksmith Exam – The MLA exam (formerly BLI) is arguably the best-recognised exam based proof of competence currently available (and it’s not linked to taking a training course)
To read about locksmith qualifications please see our qualification advice page for our expert opinion.
Do I need a Qualification to trade as a locksmith?
The quick answer is NO, read about qualifications to trade as a locksmith here.
10. How do you get a locksmith licence?
There is currently no licensing for locksmiths in the UK, due to the government not wanting to increase the legislative burden on small businesses.
In Ireland, there is a government based licensing scheme run by the PSA.
11. Warning about training courses!
One word of warning relating to training courses – beware of courses that try to sell you tools.
The tools you’ll need will very much depend on the type of work you’ll be doing and also the area of the country you’re based in. Locksmiths have cupboards full of shiny tools that have cost a small fortune and yet never been used.
Choose wisely once you know what you need, and some tools you may actually be able to make yourself.
In other words – make sure you go in with your eyes wide open, it’s not as easy a profession as some training schools may have you believe!
12. Speak to Working Locksmiths
If you fancy getting a feel for what locksmithing is about and want to speak to fellow locksmiths and manufacturers, why not attend Europe’s largest locksmith exhibition for free in Oct 2021.
- Over 80 Training classes & seminars taking place over 3 days
- Some classes FREE of charge ( subject to requirements such as security checks )
- Open to those wanting to become locksmiths + current trading locksmiths
- A great chance to network and socialise with locksmiths and suppliers
BONUS CONTENT: Diary of a Locksmith
To read what’s it’s really like to be a locksmith, Craig from one of our Approved companies wrote about the day in the life of a locksmith, what job’s he attended & areas covered in the space on 24 hours.
>> Read the diary of a 24 Emergency Locksmith from one of our members.
If you are serious about becoming a locksmith you must do your research first.
- 1. Competition – See how many locksmiths are your area, and what services they offer.
- 2. Training – Research any training provider, do they have experience trading as locksmiths?
- 3. Services you offer as a locksmith – Look for a gap in the market, there could be a lack of 24-hour locksmiths in your town.
Locksmithing in a life long career, not a trade you can learn quickly by taking a short training course.
If you have any questions get advice from the UK’s largest locksmith association.
Read through our becoming a locksmith FAQs covering all the important topics to anyone new to locksmithing.
- Locksmith Career Guide – 10 quicks tips to become a locksmith
- Training FAQ’s – Over 20 popular questions answered
- Locksmith Terminology – Learn about industry related terms