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Locksmithing remains a vital service profession. Homeowners and businesses will always need security and controlled access. You might consider becoming a locksmith to fill this demand. 

Locksmiths need an understanding of traditional locks and new technology. The Occupational Information Network (O*NET) explains that locksmiths need soft skills, too. You will need to interact with customers. You may also have to handle time pressure when dealing with emergencies. 

In this article, we will look at what a locksmith does daily. We’ll also explore the training and education requirements for the career. Then, we will list the tools and marketing needed to start your own business.  

We’ll end with tips for how to get started in a locksmith career right away. 

Is Locksmith the Right Profession for You? 

Today’s locksmiths work with both mechanical and digital systems. You’ll still spend time cutting keys. And you’ll install or change mechanical locks. You’ll also install and program code-based and app-based locks.  

The job also involves helping customers bypass locks. You’ll help people get into cars after locking their keys inside. Or you’ll open doors for people who lost their key or forgot their entry code.  

Locksmiths often have shops or home bases. But the job requires mobility. You’ll usually use a vehicle to visit customers’ homes or businesses. Most of the day will be spent in the field. Many days, you may see several job sites.  

Here is a look at the daily duties of a locksmith. 

  • Managing your schedule: You’ll spend time planning your day. This involves making a schedule and estimating times for each job. You might take additional service calls during the day. You would add these to the schedule. Or you’d make adjustments to fit them into the day.  
  • Commuting: You’ll spend part of the day on the road, commuting to customer locations to offer your services.  
  • Talking to customers: Locksmithing is a customer service job. You will interact with customers for every job. You’ll have to find out their needs and concerns. They will also likely ask questions and raise concerns. They’ll expect clear answers. At times, your clients may be frustrated or stressed. In these situations, you must remain calm and do your job. 
  • Handling finances: You will need to create bills or invoices for clients. You’ll also process payments and record them.  

The technical skills of locksmithing are vital. But you will need many other abilities as well. You’ll have to develop these soft skills through experience and practice. 

RELATED ARTICLE: 4 of the Top Locksmith Industry Trends for 2024 

Training and Certifications Required To Be a Locksmith 

Locksmiths learn business skills and communication on their own. But the technical parts of the job require education. There are several options for locksmith training. You can also seek certification to prove your skills.  

Here is a closer look at locksmith training and certification options.  

  • Trade school: Trade schools teach courses on locksmithing. You can enroll in a program and learn the skills necessary to start your career. These programs can last for several months or up to one year.  
  • Apprenticeship: An alternative option is to find a locksmith apprenticeship. You will work under an experienced locksmith. You’ll assist them and learn locksmithing skills on the job. An apprenticeship can last for several years. But apprentices are paid. You might combine an apprenticeship with classroom work as well.  
  • Licenses: License requirements vary. Some states or cities require locksmiths to get licenses. Others do not have such requirements. Licensing can involve registering with authorities. You might also have to pass an exam on relevant laws or practices. 
  • Certifications: Certification is not required to become a locksmith. But it can help you prove your experience and skills. The Associated Locksmiths of America (ALOA) offers locksmith certifications. There are general certifications and specific credentials. For example, you could become a certified automotive locksmith. Or you could get accredited as an electronic lock specialist.  

You’ll need to check the education and license requirements for your area. Thirteen states currently require licenses. Also, some cities and counties have requirements even if their state does not. You should verify these rules before starting your education.  

Equipment and Tools for Locksmiths 

You will need the right tools and equipment to start a locksmith business. Purchase the necessary items to get started. Then, you can add to your collection over time.  

Locksmiths need vehicles to commute to job sites. You’ll want something large enough to carry your equipment with you. Many locksmiths have vans or trucks.  

These tools are essential for starting a locksmithing business: 

  • Power tools: Locksmiths need drills and saws. These can help when changing locks. They are also crucial for bypassing locks when the user loses a key.  
  • Key cutting machine: These machines can create or duplicate keys. You can pair this device with a key decoder and transponder programmer. The decoder maps the inside of locks to show where key grooves should go. And the programmer links keys with digital chips for security with cars.  
  • Lock-picking tool kit: Mechanical lock-picking kits include picks and tension wrenches. They also have special extractors for removing broken keys. Carlock specialists can also get a specialized picking tool called an auto jiggler.  
  • Lock software: Locksmiths may need specialized software to install and bypass smart locks. The type of digital tool you use will depend on the locks you use. 

Other tools will depend on your specializations. For example, you may need a wedge kit if you work with cars. These tools are for opening car windows after a lockout.  

RELATED ARTICLE: The Essential List of Software Solutions for Running a Locksmith Business 

Starting Your Locksmith Business 

Locksmith skills and equipment are essential for your business. But you also need to take a series of financial and legal steps before you get started. These ensure your business has funding and a realistic budget. And they protect you and your company.  

Some steps may vary depending on the location. The following are the same for almost all locksmithing businesses.  

  • Research your market. Find out how many locksmiths already work in your area. Talk to local people to see what services they need. Then, decide if you have the skills and equipment to provide these services. You can also look at the pricing for other locksmiths. See if you can offer the same or lower prices for the same services.  
  • Write down short- and long-term plans. Your business won’t succeed overnight. Plan your budget to cover costs until you start earning profits. You can also plan for long-term growth. Look several years into the future. And decide if you want to add new services or hire other employees. Some lenders or investors will ask to see a business plan before giving you funding.  
  • Get loans or attract investors. You will need money to cover equipment costs. You might also need to get a vehicle and rent shop space. Business loans can help cover these costs. You can also try to raise capital from investors. Some may pay your startup costs in exchange for a share of your company. You pay them a portion of your profits as compensation.  
  • Register your business. You need to choose your business name. Also, select a structure. You can work as a sole proprietor or a limited liability company (LLC). If you have ambitious growth plans, you can register as a corporation. Sole proprietorships are simple. However, LLCs and corporations offer more legal protections. You typically register your name and structure with your state government.  
  • Get insurance. Business insurance or a business bond also offers protection. The coverage can protect you from liability. The insurer will cover payments if you get sued for mistakes. It can also cover injuries or damage at job sites.  
  • Get necessary licenses or permits. Some states and cities require licenses for locksmiths, while others do not. However, you may need permits for certain types of projects. Find out the local rules. Then, obtain the necessary permissions before opening your business. 

You’ll also need to consider banking. You can open a business bank account. Then, you can get a business tax ID. This is also known as an EIN. It’s necessary if you have employees. It may also make filing taxes easier. You apply for this identifier with the IRS.  

4 Marketing Strategies for New Locksmiths 

Marketing is another important step for a new business. You will need to attract customers. There are several options for accomplishing this. Here are four of the most effective ones.  

  • Build a website. Build a website that lists your services. You should include pricing and contact information. Use local search engine optimization (SEO) to get visitors from your area. Consider adding images. You might also create articles talking about common locksmithing questions. These can likewise include local SEO keywords. 
  • Create online profiles. Create a Google Business Profile. This listing will help with searches on Google Maps and the main search engine. You can also create social media pages. Use these to interact with your target audience. You can also offer special pricing and promotions to people who follow your account.  
  • Reward referrals. Offer discounts or other deals to customers who refer others to your business. This can be effective. One survey by the Service Corps of Retired Executives (SCORE) supports this idea. They found that 61% of customers make at least one referral if asked. Thirty-four percent make two to 10 referrals.  
  • Try direct mail marketing. You can reach home and business owners by mail. Create a postcard explaining your services and offering special pricing. Ensure you only send it to people in your service area.  

Also, continue to build relationships with existing customers. Send occasional emails or make calls with special offers.  

RELATED ARTICLE: 6 Easy Ways to Get More Locksmith Leads 

Networking and Partnerships for Locksmiths 

Networking is another way to find new customers and opportunities. The following steps can help you find partnerships to help grow your business. 

  • Partner with hardware stores. Hardware stores sell locks and security devices. Ask if you can give in-store demonstrations. For instance, you could offer a class on simple lock installations. This would help you connect with local customers. Also, the hardware store’s workers can refer customers to your business. In return, you can tell customers to purchase locks or keys from your hardware partner. 
  • Join professional associations. Become a member of the locksmith association in your city or state. You can also join ALOA for a national network. These memberships allow you to get support. And they help you stay up to date with industry trends.  
  • Go to trade shows. You can also rent a booth at a trade show in your city. This can be a way to meet potential customers. Consider home and garden or home improvement shows. Auto shows could be worthwhile if you specialize in auto locksmithing.  
  • Build relationships with property managers or real estate agents. Property managers and realtors work with people who need locksmith services. People will need to change the locks when they move into a new place. These relationships can lead to steady referrals for your services. 

You can also explore opportunities with your Chamber of Commerce. These can vary depending on how active your local chamber is. Some may host networking events or help you connect with other businesses to explore potential partnerships.  

FROM ONE OF OUR PARTNERS: How to Grow a Service-Based Business 

How To Become a Locksmith: First Steps 

Opening a business can seem complex and intimidating. But you can start by taking a few simple steps. The following things won’t require money or excessive time. They will help you start on your journey to becoming a professional locksmith.  

  • Explore training options in your area. Look at trade school and apprenticeship programs. Most schools will allow you to visit. You might even be able to talk to instructors to see what you’ll learn in the program.  
  • Talk with professional locksmiths. Get insights from current pros. Ask them how they learned the trade. Also, you can get insights about the challenges and advantages of this profession.  
  • Try basic projects on your own. You can learn a few basics by reading locksmithing books or watching videos. Then, use this knowledge for a project at home, such as changing a lock on your door.  
  • Confirm professional requirements. Find out if your city or state requires educational or experience requirements. Your training plans should meet these requirements.  

After you take these steps, you’ll be on your way to building a locksmithing business. With the right skills and plan, you can succeed in this industry.  

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