Have you ever wondered how much locksmiths earn? It’s a career path that allows you to help people while working with your hands. If you’re detail-oriented, security-minded, and interested in learning a trade, it may be the perfect option.
This guide will provide key details on locksmith salaries, the work involved, training requirements, and tips for starting your own business. Read on to learn if a lucrative locksmithing career could be in your future!
Introduction to Locksmithing
Before diving into salaries, let’s look at what locksmiths actually do day-to-day.
In short, locksmiths install, repair, and open locks. They make duplicate keys, extract broken keys, build master key systems, and assist with lockouts. Some specialize in automotive work, while others focus on homes and businesses.
It’s an in-demand trade that combines mechanical skills, security knowledge, and customer service. While technology is automating some tasks, there will always be a need for knowledgeable professionals.
Main Duties and Responsibilities
A locksmith’s typical duties include:
- Evaluating lock issues and finding solutions
- Installing and repairing various lock types (deadbolts, door knobs, padlocks, etc.)
- Making duplicate keys using key cutters and transponder programming
- Opening locked doors, cars, and safes without damaging the lock
- Designing master key and access control systems
- Selling locks and security products to customers
- Providing 24/7 emergency lockout assistance
- Maintaining tools, key cutters, work vehicles, and inventory
It’s a diverse trade that allows you to work with your hands while running a service business. Every day brings new challenges and opportunities to help customers.
Benefits of Becoming a Locksmith
Beyond the consistent pay, locksmithing offers many advantages:
- Hands-on work that feels rewarding
- Active job with a variety of tasks
- Mix of office and field work
- Ability to help people in difficult situations
- Constant learning as security evolves
- Potential to start your own business
- Opportunity to specialize and advance your skills
If you like working independently, solving problems, and building personal relationships, it could be an excellent career path.
How Much Do Locksmiths Make?
Now that you know what locksmiths do, let’s look at typical earnings and factors that affect salaries.
Locksmith pay can vary based on experience level, location, specialization, and whether you work for a company or yourself. However, most make a comfortable living.
National Average Salary
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the average national salary for locksmiths and safe repairers is $50,930 per year or $24.48 per hour. The top 10% earn over $77,030 annually.
This puts locksmith salaries well above the national median income. It’s on par with police officers ($67,600) and higher than auto mechanics ($47,060).
Of course, averages only tell part of the story. Location and experience have a major impact.
Where you work as a locksmith significantly affects your earning potential. States with a higher cost of living naturally pay more:
- New York – $63,460
- California – $60,760
- Washington – $60,520
- Alaska – $58,840
Meanwhile, salaries are lower in areas with lower living costs:
- Mississippi – $35,890
- Arkansas – $37,990
- Oklahoma – $38,850
- Kentucky – $39,330
Urban areas also tend to pay more than rural ones, although competition may be higher.
Like most trades, new locksmiths start lower on the pay scale. With several years of experience, salaries increase significantly.
According to PayScale, the average pay based on experience is:
- Entry Level (0-5 years): $34,000 – $52,000
- Mid-Level (5-10 years): $40,000 – $59,000
- Experienced (10-20 years): $47,000 – $70,000
Individual salaries can range higher depending on reputation and specialties.
The earning potential rises the longer you work in the field. Gaining expertise allows you to charge more and take on more complex projects.
Working for Yourself
One way to maximize earning potential is to start your own locksmith business. Independent locksmiths set their own prices and keep all of the profits.
Successful independent locksmiths can easily earn $70,000 to $100,000 per year after getting established. However, you need business knowledge along with technical skills.
Franchises offer another self-employment route. The startup cost is higher, but you gain marketing resources and an existing brand.
Locksmiths who specialize in certain areas—such as safes, automobiles or access control—can also command higher incomes. Specialty work takes advanced training but earns premium rates.
For example, safe and vault technicians earn an average of $56,580 according to BLS data. Those with expert skills in niche areas can make over $100,000.
Overall, there’s ample opportunity to earn an excellent living as you gain expertise and reputation in the locksmithing field.
Education and Training Requirements
While locksmithing doesn’t require a college degree, you do need technical skills. Training is essential for success and mandatory for licensing.
There are two main paths to getting educated:
Traditionally, aspiring locksmiths complete a 1-4 year apprenticeship with an experienced mentor. This involves paid on-the-job training and classroom learning.
Apprentices start by shadowing their mentor on jobs to learn basics. As their skills develop, they begin working independently. It’s an immersive education that pays you while building real-world skills.
The downside is that apprenticeship positions are limited based on locksmith demand in the area.
A faster training option is to attend an accredited locksmith school. Look for an intensive certification program that combines hands-on labs with classroom lectures.
A quality 6-month course can teach beginners everything they need—from key cutting to access control installation. Expect to pay $2,000 to $4,000 for tuition.
School gives you standardized training and certification testing. However, you miss out on real-world experience you’d get from an apprenticeship.
Either path can set you up for a successful career if given the proper dedication. Your education continues as you gain experience in the field.
Most states require locksmiths to obtain a license to work legally. Licensure involves meeting experience and/or training requirements, passing a criminal background check, and paying fees.
Exact locksmith license requirements depend on your state’s laws. However, common criteria include:
- Proof of completing apprenticeship or training program
- Minimum age requirement (18 or 21)
- Passing scores on written testing
- No felony convictions
- $100 to $500 licensing fee
States with licensing laws include California, Texas, New Jersey, Illinois, Arizona, and more. Research the laws in your state before starting your locksmith education.
7 Tips for Starting a Locksmith Business
If your goal is to run your own locksmith company, here are some top tips:
1. Get Properly Licensed
First things first—make sure you meet all state and local licensing requirements before advertising services. This protects you legally.
2. Choose a Business Name and Structure
Pick a name that conveys security expertise. Establish your business as a LLC, sole proprietorship, or corporation based on legal needs.
3. Obtain Necessary Tools and Equipment
Invest in quality key cutters, decoding machines, lock pick sets, and other must-have tools. Get a well-stocked service vehicle.
4. Set Competitive Rates
Research local competitors and typical industry rates. Price competitively while still being profitable. Offer discounts for seniors, veterans, etc.
5. Market Your New Business
Promote your services through online ads, mailers, community sponsorships, social media, and SEO-optimized content. Offer promotions to gain clients.
6. Focus on Customer Service
Provide timely, transparent, reliable service. Follow up with clients after jobs. Ask for reviews and testimonials. Word-of-mouth marketing is huge.
7. Continue Learning
Stay on top of the latest security developments through trade groups and continuing education. Invest in advanced certifications.
Is Locksmithing Right for You?
If you’re detail-oriented, technically skilled, and enjoy physical work, locksmithing can be a rewarding and lucrative career. The sense of helping customers and advancing your expertise makes for engaging work.
Just be prepared to spend time upfront on proper training through a program or apprenticeship. Find out the licensing rules in your state. With dedication and hard work, you can build expertise in a skilled trade that’s always in demand.
Ready to become a locksmith? Now you know what to expect for salary potential, responsibilities, education requirements, and startup considerations. With drive and determination, you can turn your mechanical aptitude into an enjoyable, stable career.