What Training Is Necessary to Become a Locksmith?

Locksmithing is a specialized profession that involves an in-depth knowledge of keys, locks, safes, doors, and security systems. These items might seem uncomplicated because most people use them multiple times a day. But, the commonplace nature of keys, doors, and locks does not mean they require any less expertise to understand, install, and repair.

Actually, locksmiths go through intense training, both in school and during on-the-job apprenticeships, to gain the knowledge and skills required for their line of work. Here’s a look at the steps someone in Ontario might take to become a fully-trained locksmith.

Basic Skills

Having certain skills, aptitudes, or personality traits will help a person succeed as a locksmith and enjoy working in this profession. These are not absolute requirements, but the everyday tasks of a locksmith are easier to complete for people with these traits:

  • Physical fitness
  • Skill working with their hands
  • An aptitude for solving problems and fixing things
  • Interest in the latest technology
  • Motivation to work on their own
  • Ability to communicate clearly with customers and co-workers

The nature of being a locksmith involves helping people open doors, enter locked safes, and protect their personal property. Consequently, locksmiths also need to be people of integrity who can be trusted with these sensitive tasks. Many employers only hire locksmiths with a great personal record.

Most people working towards becoming a locksmith in Ontario complete an apprenticeship. Ontario law does not require locksmiths to have a certificate of qualification, but many employers who hire locksmiths ask their employees to complete an apprenticeship (or to show proof they have completed one).

To become an apprentice locksmith, a person must have a high school education. That level of education is necessary to apply for an apprenticeship and to take classes at a locksmithing trade school. Some students begin their locksmith apprenticeship in high school by working with the Ontario Youth Apprenticeship program.

Once a person sets up a locksmith apprenticeship, he or she must complete the apprenticeship requirements outlined by the Ontario College of Trades. An apprenticeship includes 6,000 hours of training, divided between in-school and on-the-job training. That time requirement is set by the Ontario College of Trades Apprenticeship Act (2009).

According to these standards, the on-the-job training for an apprentice locksmith includes hands-on learning of:

  • Oral and written communication skills
  • Safe working practices and techniques
  • Door, doorframe, and door hardware evaluations
  • Use of power tools and locksmith equipment
  • Key-cutting machine operation
  • Non-destructive methods for opening locks
  • Masterkey system creation

In addition to the on-the-job training to become a locksmith, apprentices complete at least 480 hours of in-school training. This training usually takes place at a trade school or a locksmithing academy. At a locksmithing school, students take classes to learn about the history of locksmithing, to practice technical skills, and to gain technical knowledge about key types, lock types, door types, and other specialized information.

A locksmith’s course schedule might include classes such as:

  • Basic locksmithing: This class covers foundational knowledge required to be a locksmith, including lock types, locksmithing tools, and basic locksmithing skills.
  • Lock-picking: Since locksmiths frequently need to release locks without damaging or replacing them, they can take a class like this to practice picking locks.
  • Code locks and code machines: Not all locks require a physical key; some use an electronic keypad and a special numeric sequence as a key. A class like this one teaches locksmiths in-training about manufacturers’ codes for this type of lock and how to install and provide service for such locks.
  • Safes and safe locks: The tumbler and dial locks used on most safes are also specialized, so locksmiths must learn the specifications and safety features of safes, as well as how to change combinations and install or disassemble safes.
  • National and local building codes: When locksmiths install new doors and door locks, their work must meet the standards set in building codes such as the Ontario Building Code. Some part of a locksmith’s training should include learning the specifics of these building codes and how to comply with their requirements.

Those courses are only a sampling of what might be covered in a locksmith’s formal education. Locksmiths also have to learn about electric circuits, key card systems, alarms, security systems, pushbutton locks, and master-keying and re-keying services. Locksmiths should also be familiar with fire codes, and local, provincial, and national government regulations related to their work.

After apprentices complete both the in-school and on-the job training, they submit the signed forms to the Ministry of Training Colleges and Universities. The Ontario College of Trades then issues a certificate showing the locksmith completed an apprenticeship.

Clearly, the training and knowledge necessary to work as a locksmith go beyond the everyday use of keys. Now that you know about the technical know-how required to be a locksmith, you’ll have a greater appreciation for a locksmith’s services next time you need one. Don’t hesitate to contact Davies Lock & Door for any further questions.