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How to become a locksmith

Where there's a lock, there's always potential for business as a locksmith. It doesn’t matter whether we're talking homes, shops, or cars, a locksmith is always needed. Here, we'll look at how to become a locksmith in the UK.

Why should you become a locksmith?

It goes without saying that locks are a nifty invention that help keep our homes and businesses secure. But over time, even the most reliable lock can break – and who hasn’t misplaced their keys at some point?

Of course, when something like this happens, then your first port of call is likely to be a local locksmith. Assuming said locksmith has time in their busy schedule, they can hopefully swing by and help.

Because, as it turns out, locksmiths are very busy tradespeople. Indeed, locksmiths are never short of work no matter where they’re based in the country. This makes becoming a locksmith an excellent career choice.

From lock repairs and replacements to entirely new installations, keep reading to learn more about becoming a locksmith. We’ll discuss the qualifications required, the salary, and the different tools needed.

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What does a locksmith do?

The primary role of a locksmith is to handle work relating to traditional locks. However, there’s more to what locksmiths do than this type of work alone.

Modern locksmiths can be expected to handle tasks around all manner of security systems. They may also perform security checks on homes and businesses to help make them more secure.

Below are just some of the most common tasks associated with locksmiths:

  • Key cutting for all manner of locks
  • Cutting, programming, and repairing car keys
  • Fitting, opening, and repairing of safes
  • Installing access control systems
  • Door unlocking/lock open services
  • Emergency car opening services
  • Lock repair services
  • Lock fitting work
  • Emergency lock replacement
  • Advising on security options

As you can see, there are plenty of tasks involved in being a locksmith to make it a varied and exciting career.

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Specialising within the locksmith industry

While a large portion of locksmith work will involve attending to one sort of lock or another, there are specialist areas. Those who want to learn to be a locksmith may find themselves drawn to any of the following core lock niches:

  • Cars – working with specific automobile mechanisms
  • Commercial – locking systems for businesses, hotels and shops
  • Domestic – home locks and home security systems
  • Safes – installing, opening, and repairing safes

What skills do locksmiths need?

Naturally, knowledge of locks and how they function is essential if you want to be a successful locksmith. However, there are plenty of soft skills to consider which can make your job easier. These include:

  • Problem-solving
  • Mechanical knowledge
  • Technical understanding
  • Manual dexterity
  • Patience and endurance
  • Customer service skills
  • Flexibility in schedule

Working on a few of these skills will make becoming a locksmith that much easier.

locked out of house what do I do

Becoming a certified locksmith

With an understanding of what being locksmith involves, let’s look at how to become a locksmith with quality certifications. For this, the best place to apply is with the Master Locksmiths Association (MLA).

The MLA offers courses officially recognised by the police, Home Office, British Standards Institute, and the Association of British Insurers. This means you’re guaranteed to be properly trained when you sign up with them.

When training as a locksmith, you can choose from any of the courses below:

  • Beginner – the minimum level five day qualification
  • Advanced – includes beginner level training and additional specialist modules
  • Auto –car lock and automobile security systems

With one of these qualifications in hand, you’ll be able to begin practising as a locksmith.

Do you need qualifications?

There is no official licence required to practice as a locksmith. However, trainees are required to pass a check by the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS). The DBS check is to ensure that you’re safe to work in a role that involves security-based responsibilities.

On top of this, it will also be necessary to receive accreditation from the MLA in some form. Without this, you’ll likely find it difficult to find any work as a locksmith.

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How to get more experience

Upon completing your locksmith training, the best way to gain experience is through work and training. This means practising your locksmith skills in your spare time as well as finding work with a locksmith company. You could also consider starting your own locksmith business from scratch.

Naturally, you can also look for further locksmith training to widen your skill set. This will let you offer more services to your customers. You could even combine it with another trade, such as a door fitting business, for an even greater reach.

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Win more work with Checkatrade

So, now you know what it takes to learn to be a locksmith. Of course, that’s only half of the journey. You’ll also need to find work in this trade, which is why you should consider joining Checkatrade.

Checkatrade is the UK’s most popular online trade directory for reputable tradespeople.

When you sign up, we’ll help you set up your business profile so you get more leads. We’ll also provide you with free marketing material and special discounts with our partners.

Get in touch to learn more about just how Checkatrade can boost your business.

Boost your locksmith revenue

A Checkatrade membership can help you win more leads and boost your bottom line

Find out more

Locksmith FAQs

What tools are needed?

Due to the sometimes complex nature of their work, locksmiths will need a wide range of tools. These can include any and all of the following:

  • Cutting machines
  • Lock pick sets
  • Tension wrenches
  • Pick guns
  • Broken key extractors
  • Tool kit (including screwdrivers, chisels and drills)

Due to the number of tools needed, it’s also essential to have a valid driving license and vehicle for easy transportation. Being able to move quickly between jobs is key to success whether you’re a local or city locksmith.

It’s also important to keep in mind that extra equipment may be called for in certain sectors. For example, some locksmiths will need to invest in scopes for examining safes. While auto locksmiths will require electronic programming equipment for modern vehicles.

How much can a locksmith earn?

Salaries for locksmiths can vary depending on experience. Below is a rough idea of the average locksmith earnings in the UK:

  • Newly qualified –£18,900
  • Experienced – £27,000
  • Self-employed sole trader – £63,000

How much is a locksmith course?

Prices can vary, but as a guideline, the full beginner course through the MLA costs around £1,625. However, there is also a shorter two-day course to learn the foundations for £645.

Alternatively, there are apprenticeship schemes available through the MLA to help younger people become qualified. Funding is available for these courses, but it is dependent on age category.

What are the working hours like?

The majority of locksmiths will work a standard 40-hour week, but the pattern of hours will change according to demand.

This is because many locksmith companies choose to offer a 24-hour emergency service that can spread over evenings and weekends. Being willing to work outside of normal hours can attract more business and increase your earnings.

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Content disclaimer: This content has been created for general information purposes and should not be taken as formal advice. Read our full disclaimer here.

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