How to become a locksmith
If you're ready to start a locksmith business, but struggling to decode the first steps, this guide can help. Follow these simples steps and open the doors to your own business.
We’ve all been there—we head out on a long day of adventure and arrive home tired, only to realize that we locked our keys inside. Although a cool cup of water and comfy couch is just on the other side of the front door, there’s no way of getting in. We never did get around to having a spare key made, so as nerves (and fatigue) set in, we need to call for help.
When you become a certified locksmith, you’re the person who comes to the rescue—day or night. If you’re looking for a flexible job with reliable work, it’s hard to beat a locksmith’s trade. After all, just the sight of you can immediately brighten someone’s bad day.
But if you find yourself wondering how to start a locksmith business, it’s hard to decode the first steps. That’s why we’ve built this guide to outline how to become a locksmith and open the doors to your very own business!
Let’s do this.
Your skills are key to success
You might not think you need many skills to become a locksmith—isn’t there some special master skeleton key locksmiths can buy when they start the job? Unfortunately (and fortunately) not. If such a thing existed, there would be many more locksmiths, and probably just as many burglars! So both car locks and residential locks are difficult to pick for a reason.
As a certified master locksmith, you’ll need to develop strong lock-picking prowess, but that’s not all it takes to succeed. There are many other locksmith skills you will need to master to receive your certification such as:
- Lock removal – In some cases, such as when a new owner or tenant moves into a home, you may need to remove and replace a lock. This requires manual dexterity and some basic repair skills.
- Organization – Fielding multiple phone calls from panicked individuals can be a bit hectic, to say the least! You’ll need to be good at creating and sticking to systems for follow-up and prioritization—a decent memory plus sticky notes won’t cut it.
- Adaptability – You may not choose to be on-call 24/7 (though this can be a selling point), but the nature of your work will still require that you sometimes drop everything and drive to a new job. Are you flexible enough to handle a schedule and route that’s different every day?
- Communication – A friendly demeanor and clear communication are essential for quickly calming your clients, and ensuring long-term success. Reviews of your business on sites like Yelp or Google can often dictate whether or not people reach out to you online. You want the ratings and comments from your clients to be positive.
Still interested in becoming a locksmith? Get ready to take the next step!
Unlock your potential: Locksmith training & license requirements
Once you’re positive that locksmithing is right for you, you’ll need to take several key steps to ensure you’re legally prepared for the trade.
First, depending on your state and municipality, you may need a locksmith license. To obtain one, you’ll need to get formal training as a locksmith, which has two options:
- Take a locksmith course through any school accredited by the Associated Locksmiths of America (AOLA).
- Complete an apprenticeship under a licensed locksmith.
Even if a locksmith license isn’t required, you’ll still have to complete some form of locksmith training as an apprentice to ensure you have the skills needed for success. Learning on the job just isn’t an option when people’s property and time are on the line.
Additionally, in most states, there are often a few other requirements to begin your locksmith profession:1
- You need to be over 18
- You need to pass a locksmith certification exam (if required)
- You need to pass a background check
Check with your jurisdiction to see if there are any other requirements, and to understand how any criminal history could affect your career in the locksmith industry.
Create a business plan & form a legal business
After your training and licensure, you’re almost ready to get to work as a professional locksmith. But first, it’s time to make a clear business plan. You’ll want to take into account startup costs, your breakeven point, and how you’re going to attract clientele. For a solid business plan, you’ll need to consider:
- Cost of tools and supplies
- Means of transportation
- Required & recommended insurance
- Advertising costs
- The rate you’ll charge per job
- How many jobs per day/week you’ll need to maintain cash flow
To protect all the hard work going into your business plan, you’ll also need to cover the costs of liability you take on as a professional locksmith.
How could an experienced locksmith end up in trouble?
If you damage a client’s car or door while conducting your work, you could be held liable for property damage, despite your good intentions. Likewise, if you install faulty locks and your client suffers a theft, they could accuse you of negligence.
In both cases, expensive legal fees and damages could easily throw a wrench in your locksmith business plan. So, what can you do to help ensure that your bank account is safe and secure from a job-gone-wrong?
Take the following steps:
Form a Limited Liability Corporation (LLC)
An LLC is a legal business entity that can protect some of the owners’ assets in the case of liability. Create an LLC in your state (fees may apply), and open a business bank account using your new Federal Employer Identification Number (FEIN). Then, you’ll be able to clearly separate your business finances from your personal finances. If someone sues you, they may only be able to go after your business assets (not your personal assets) – one of the main benefits of LLCs. However, this all depends on your bookkeeping practices.
Get insurance to protect your business
- General liability insurance can provide coverage against third-party claims of property damage, bodily injury, personal injury, and advertising injury.
- Professional liability insurance can provide coverage against claims of negligence and errors that resulted in your client’s financial loss as a result of your providing or failing to provide professional services.
If you have insurance, your policy may provide you with a defense and pay damages. Make sure you understand your policy limits and any exclusions that apply.
Be aware that neither your legal business designation nor your insurance can come to the rescue if you engage in illegal activity as a licensed locksmith. However, taking these steps can help you cover the cost of claims resulting from a misunderstanding or error during the course of a job.
Advertise & open new doors
Once you’ve formed your business plan and secured the right business insurance you’re ready to get to work! Go ahead and start marketing, whether that means getting a specialty paint-job on your car, passing out business cards, or advertising through Instagram.
With hard work, happy clients, and a little perseverance, you’ll have a steady flow of jobs in no time. Once you’re getting positive reviews on social media and websites like Yelp, more and more people will start to discover and trust your locksmith service.
Ultimately, all you need to do to become a locksmith is:
- Make sure you have the required training and licensure
- Stick to your business plan and price jobs accordingly
- Takes steps to cover your liability as a certified professional locksmith
Follow these key steps, and we trust you’ll soon be unlocking the door to success. Additionally, once you’ve got your business up and running and you need locksmith insurance, we’re here to help with fast, flexible coverage. Just click on “Get a Quote” or download the Thimble app, input a few details about your business, and we’ll instantly generate a free quote for you. With just one more click, you can purchase your custom policy and close the door on risk!