Locksmiths install, adjust and repair locks, make keys, and change lock combinations. They work on residential, automotive, commercial and institutional locksets and door hardware. Locksmiths may also install and maintain more sophisticated security systems.
Generally, the duties of a locksmith include:
- selling and installing high-security lock systems and key control systems, window bars, deadlocks, and keyless entry locks
- repairing, replacing, or adjusting damaged or defective components of an entrance or exit door, including door closers, hinges, electric release mechanisms and sometimes the door itself
- changing lock key combinations by inserting new pins into locks
- designing complex master key systems for industry, governments, and institutions
Specific duties of locksmiths vary depending upon the area in which they work.
Shop locksmiths are responsible for:
- servicing and adjusting key machines
- repairing locks
- re-keying locks
- making keys for locks
- opening cylinders when keys are not available
- preparing master keys from code
- repairing or making keys for auto locks brought into the shop
Mobile locksmiths are required to work from mobile units. In addition to the duties of shop locksmiths they are also responsible for:
- repairing locks in the field
- opening door locks with a lock pick
- opening and making keys for automobiles
- installing locks, door closers and emergency exit hardware
- replacing hinges and re-aligning doors
- installing security bars
- installing and repairing electric strikes and electronic security hardware
- servicing and changing combinations on safe and vault doors
Safe and vault technicians are skilled in opening safes, rebuilding, painting, moving and installing safes.
Locksmiths who service bank equipment are skilled in mechanical and electronic time locks, time delay devices, night deposit units, combination and electronic and key locks for vaults and safes.
Locksmiths are sometimes required to manoeuver heavy objects and climb ladders. It is important that locksmiths have a willingness to keep learning about new developments in security equipment. Knowledge of electronics, welding, carpentry and metal working is an asset. Locksmiths must be reliable, accurate and honest.
For more information regarding tasks and activities, please review the Trade Regulation.
Locksmiths usually work a five-day week but may be on-call nights and weekends to respond to emergencies. Some locksmiths are self-employed and may be required to work longer hours and have clerical duties related to running a business.
Some shops, especially mobile units, may be small and crowded, requiring locksmiths to work around benches, counters and stock. They sometimes are required to work in awkward or confined spaces. Those working in mobile units may be required to work in adverse weather conditions.
Successful locksmiths are often independent, self-motivated individuals who are experts in precision work. They usually enjoy solving problems and helping people.
Individuals wishing to become locksmiths should possess:
- mechanical ability
- mathematical ability
- an understanding of computers
- proper lifting techniques to lift items weighing in excess of 25 kilograms
- patience and stamina
- attention to detail
- tact when dealing with the public
- good vision and hearing, and
- good eye-hand coordination in order to work with small and intricate parts.
Locksmiths are employed by locksmithing companies, related security firms, and institutions. The increasing awareness for preventative measures by the public to protect against theft is creating a need for more security measures; therefore, the demand for locksmiths is anticipated to remain fairly stable.
Journeyperson wage rates vary, but generally range from $25 to $40 an hour plus benefits.
Experienced locksmiths can advance to supervisory positions or set up their own business. Most locksmiths consider this to be a life-long occupation.
To work as a locksmith in Alberta, a person must:
- hold a valid security workers license under the Alberta Security Service and Investigators Act (SSIA).
- be a registered apprentice, an Alberta-certified journeyperson, or hold a valid recognized credential.
Individuals possessing a valid recognized credential in Alberta are eligible to receive a Blue Seal business credential after completing the necessary requirements.
The term of apprenticeship for a locksmith is 3 years (three 12-month periods) including a minimum of 1560 hours of on-the-job training and 8 weeks of technical training each year.
- An applicant who previously completed courses of study or work experience related to the Locksmith trade or holds a related journeyperson certificate and has the employer's recommendation, may qualify for credit that could reduce the term of apprenticeship. Inquiries about credit for previously completed courses of study or work experience can be directed to an apprentice representative at any Apprenticeship and Industry Training Office.
- A person who has previous training or work experience in the trade and wants to determine their level of skill and knowledge for entry or advanced standing in an apprenticeship program may complete the Prior Learning Assessment Online Application. For more information, see the Prior Learning Assessment Online Guide.
- A high school student can become an apprentice and gain credits toward apprenticeship training and a high school diploma at the same time under the Registered Apprenticeship Program (RAP).
To learn the skills required of a locksmith in Alberta and be issued an Alberta Journeyman Certificate, a person must:
- satisfy the entrance requirements or pass the entrance exam (see Entrance Level Competencies, Exam Counselling Sheet, Entrance Exam Study Guide, and Entrance Exam Support Materials List)
- find a suitable employer who is willing to hire and train an apprentice
Most employers prefer to hire high school graduates and may select apprentices from among their current employees.
- complete the online Apprenticeship Application and Contract
- pay the non-refundable application fee as part of the application process
- complete the required on-the-job training
- during on-the-job training, apprentice locksmiths earn at least 60 percent of the journeyperson wage rate in their place of employment in the first year, 70 percent in the second, and 80 percent in the third year.
- apprentices are required to provide their own tools, individuals can expect to spend between $500 to $1,000. Most shops supply major specialized tools.
- complete all program requirements as identified in the course outline
- enroll in technical training
- select an educational institution that offers training for Locksmith apprentices, and a time to attend training
- determine requirements for enrolling at the selected institution, and forward completed enrollment form to the selected institution
- review books and materials required for training
- successfully complete all required exams
When apprentices attend technical training, they are required to pay the applicable tuition fee and purchase course supplies.
The locksmith trade does not participate in the Interprovincial Standards Red Seal Program.
For a Qualification Certificate based on a recognized credential or work experience in order to prepare for the exam(s) please refer to the Exam Counselling Sheets and review available resource materials.
Time spent on supervisory or foreman duties, counter work, heading the tool crib, or on training course is NOT counted as 'hands-on' work experience.
A person who holds a valid recognized credential does not require an Alberta Equivalency document to work in the trade in Alberta.
However, some employers may require Alberta documentation as proof that the holder is allowed to work in the trade or that the holder's credential is recognized.
More information regarding the Equivalency Program can be found here.