Are you interested in starting a career as a locksmith in North Carolina? Locksmithing is a great choice for those who enjoy working with their hands, problem-solving, and providing helpful services to customers in need. This article will walk you through the step-by-step process of how to become a licensed locksmith in North Carolina.
Becoming a licensed locksmith in North Carolina involves completing locksmith training, gaining hands-on experience, applying for a license, and passing an examination administered by the North Carolina Locksmith Licensing Board. While licensure is not required to work as a locksmith in North Carolina, being licensed demonstrates your competency and allows you to take on more complex locksmith jobs.
Read on to learn the ins and outs of how to launch your locksmithing career and get licensed in the state of North Carolina!
An Overview of Locksmith Licensing in North Carolina
The North Carolina Locksmith Licensing Act was passed in 2013 to establish licensing requirements and regulation for locksmith services in the state. The North Carolina Locksmith Licensing Board oversees the licensing process, including setting education requirements, administering exams, and disciplinary actions.
North Carolina requires locksmith licenses for individuals who want to provide locksmith services for compensation, such as installing, servicing, rekeying, opening, or modifying locks. Licensure ensures locksmiths have the proper training and protects consumers from unqualified locksmith services.
To become a licensed locksmith in North Carolina, you must meet education and experience requirements, pass a licensing exam, undergo a criminal background check, and pay licensing fees. Licenses must be renewed every three years by completing continuing education.
Step 1: Gain the Necessary Locksmith Training
The first step to becoming a licensed locksmith in North Carolina is completing locksmith training through a training program or apprenticeship. The state does not require a specific amount of training hours, but you must demonstrate proficiency in locksmith skills.
Some options for locksmith training include:
- Formal locksmithing programs and trade schools, either online or in-person. Look for an accredited program that covers skills like key cutting, lock installation, safe opening, key extraction, master key systems, electronic locks, and access control.
- On-the-job training through a locksmith apprenticeship. You can apprentice under a licensed locksmith to gain hands-on experience across 1-2 years.
- Locksmithing courses offered by professional associations like ALOA (Associated Locksmiths of America)
- Self-study using locksmithing textbooks, manuals, videos, and online resources.
Aim to receive training in both basic mechanical locksmith skills as well as newer electronic locking systems. Hands-on practice with picking, impressioning, key cutting, and lock manipulation will help build your skills.
Step 2: Gain Professional Locksmithing Experience
In addition to locksmith education, North Carolina requires you to have professional experience providing locksmith services before qualifying for a license.
You need at least three years of full-time experience (or the equivalent in part-time experience) as an apprentice, intern, or practicing locksmith. This hands-on experience ensures you can apply your training to real-world locksmith jobs.
If you completed a locksmith training program, seek out opportunities to gain experience through:
- An apprenticeship with a licensed locksmith or locksmith company
- Employment as a locksmith for a security company, hardware store, or other business requiring locksmith services
- Starting your own locksmith business and taking on small jobs to build up experience
Make sure to gain experience with different types of residential, commercial, and automotive locksmith work over your three years of professional practice.
Step 3: Apply for a North Carolina Locksmith License
Once you have completed training and gained professional experience, the next step is to apply for a North Carolina locksmith license through the NC Locksmith Licensing Board.
The license application process includes:
- Completing an application form and paying the $338 examination fee and $113 license fee
- Passing a fingerprint-based state and national criminal background check
- Submitting a completed fingerprint card to the State Bureau of Investigation
- Providing records of your locksmith education and experience
- Signing authority for release of information forms
You can find license applications and instructions on the North Carolina Locksmith Licensing Board’s website. Applications are reviewed within 7-10 business days.
Step 4: Pass the Licensing Exam
After your license application is approved, you must take and pass the locksmith licensing exam administered by the North Carolina Locksmith Licensing Board.
The computer-based multiple choice exam covers topics like access control, safes, picking, commercial locks, master keying, automotive locks, ethics, and locksmith business practices.
You can purchase the study guide from the licensing board to prepare – be sure to study thoroughly, as you must score at least 70% to pass. Exams are offered at designated testing centers. If you fail, you must wait 30 days and repay the exam fee to retake the test.
Step 5: Maintain Your North Carolina Locksmith License
Once issued, your North Carolina locksmith license is valid for three years. To maintain licensure, you must complete 16 hours of continuing education on locksmith-related topics during each three year renewal period.
At renewal, you will need to pay a $113 renewal fee and submit proof of completing continuing education. The renewal deadline is July 1 every three years.
Being a licensed locksmith in North Carolina means upholding professional business practices. Make sure to properly invoice customers, maintain liability insurance, and don’t hesitate to turn down jobs you aren’t qualified to complete safely.
Joining a professional locksmithing association can help you stay up to date on the latest best practices and regulations in the industry.
Locksmith CareerPaths in North Carolina
Pursuing locksmith licensure in North Carolina can open up many exciting career opportunities, including:
- Residential locksmith – Providing lock installation, rekeying, master key systems, and access control for homes.
- Commercial locksmith – Servicing locks and access systems for offices, retail stores, warehouses, etc.
- Automotive locksmith – Making car keys, unlocking vehicles, repairing locks, extracting broken keys.
- Safe and vault technician – Locksmith services for safes, vaults, and ATMs.
- Security consultant – Assessing vulnerabilities and recommending security solutions.
- Forensic locksmith – Assisting law enforcement with bypassing locks, impressioning keys, and investigating break-ins.
Many locksmiths start their own successful small locksmith business after a few years of experience. There is a lot of demand for mobile locksmith services in particular.
With hard work and determination, experienced licensed locksmiths in North Carolina can also work towards elite titles like ALOA Certified Professional Locksmith (CPL) or Certified Master Locksmith (CML).
If you think working as a locksmith sounds rewarding, use this guide to help get your North Carolina locksmith license and be on your way to an exciting new career!
Key Takeaways for Becoming a Licensed Locksmith in North Carolina
Here are some key tips to remember:
- Complete formal locksmith training through a program, apprenticeship or self-study
- Gain at least three years of professional locksmith experience
- Apply to the NC Locksmith Licensing Board for licensure
- Pass the licensing exam and criminal background check
- Maintain your license through continuing education every three years
- Consider joining a professional locksmith association
- Continually build your skills in locksmithing services
With the right motivation and training, you can become a licensed locksmith in North Carolina and begin performing locksmith jobs across the state. Use the steps in this guide to help launch your rewarding new career in locksmithing!