Some locksmiths install and service electronic alarm and surveillance systems. Many locksmiths specify, design, provide, install and service a wide range of electronic access control systems and closed circuit television (CCTV) systems. Because of the integration of electronic security systems with computers and networks, some locksmiths maintain security hardware and software for computer systems.
When new or replacement locks are required, a locksmith assists the customer in determining the correct types of locks needed based on the security risk/exposure, life safety application and frequency of use. The locksmith installs locks and security devices using manufacturer’s templates and/or industry specifications, by cutting or drilling the proper opening in the selected location with small hand and power tools.
A locksmith may sell, service and install safes for home and business use. Banks have many locking devices and related hardware that require regular service by locksmiths such as; vault doors, time locks, safe deposit boxes and teller equipment.
A locksmith repairs a lock by disassembling and examining it to locate worn or malfunctioning parts, then cleans and adjusts the internal mechanisms and replaces these parts with new ones supplied by the lock's manufacturer. On occasion, it may be necessary to custom make some repair parts using lathes, drills, grinders, and other power and hand tools. When the repairs have been completed, the locksmith will reassemble the lock and check its operation.
A locksmith makes duplicate keys using a key-duplicating machine. With the customer's (pattern) key and key blank clamped in their respective vises, the locksmith moves the pattern key across the guide. A rotary cutter cuts the same pattern into the key blank. The locksmith carefully examines the new key to ensure its accuracy.
A locksmith may respond to emergency calls for customers who have accidentally become locked out of a home, business or vehicle. The locksmith begins by examining the lock(s) to determine the best method to circumvent the lock. These methods may include use of lock picks, bypass tools or other special instruments. Fitting a key by code or other skilled means is also a method of opening a lock. Experience, skill and knowledge dictate the method a professional selects to open a lock. There are times when the quality of the lock, concern for safety of occupants and other factors such as a malfunction of the lock may force the locksmith to use destructive techniques to gain entry. Before performing an emergency opening or certain other sensitive tasks, the locksmith may require positive ID procedures.
For security reasons or because keys are stolen or misplaced, many businesses, hotels/motels and apartment complex owners contract with locksmiths to provide new master key systems, reset combinations and rekey their door locks on a regular basis. Some cities and states require locksmiths to be licensed and bonded. The licensing process may include submitting fingerprints, undergoing a state or national background check, passing an examination, and paying a fee to the licensing agency. A self-employed locksmith must also keep business records and maintain a proper inventory of locks, parts, keys and tools.
Qualifications: Mechanical Locksmithing involves precise and detailed work. Good locksmithing professionals possess mechanical and mathematical ability, good vision, spatial perception, eye-hand coordination and manual dexterity. They must be able to understand lock and key specifications, operating manuals and other written or oral instructions as necessary. Additional traits include patience, emotional stability, honesty, ependability, accuracy and the ability to get along with other individuals.
Education and Training: During high school, the prospective locksmith should take courses in mathematics, mechanical drawing, metalworking, basic electronics, physics, and English plus some business education. To install electric locks, alarms, access control systems or surveillance devices, locksmiths must have knowledge of electricity and electronics.
Traditionally, on-the-job training has been a primary method of learning locksmithing skills. Trainees work with experienced locksmiths until they have mastered the necessary skills. In some on-the-job training programs, employees attend demonstrations or receive classroom as well as practical training. The length of time necessary to complete on-the-job training ranges from three months to four years, depending on the level of expertise required for a given sector of the profession. Completion of courses at a locksmithing school will provide a basic knowledge of the trade and may shorten the length of the on-the-job training programs.