While it may not appear to be the case, the locksmith trade is a very ancient one; the oldest known lock is approximately 4,000 years old and is of Egyptian origin. The first “pin and tumbler” key based lock (which is still used today) is over 2,500 years old and originated from the time of the Assyrian empire.
For thousands of years then, locksmiths have been working hard to protect and secure items of value from those who would acquire them nefariously. Of course, early locksmiths were incredibly skilled technicians and even artisans, having to build the entire lock mechanism and the matching keys from scratch, by hand (the term “smith” in “locksmith” comes from “blacksmith”; someone who works with metal, usually using a forge). Today, of course, this is no longer the case – locks are no longer built by hand – with the exception perhaps of high security vaults and strong boxes, which may be custom-built and designed based on the needs of the customer.
Despite the fact that today’s locksmith is no longer building custom locks from “scratch”, the job still requires a unique skill set and specialized job training, largely because of the increased integration of digital technology into the security sector. A professionally trained locksmith is expected to be extremely flexible; able to work with numerous high-tech systems – such as monitoring and maintaining high-tech access control systems employed by major corporations and government agencies or working with vehicles equipped with transponders.
Because of the obvious tie in to security, some locksmiths may even work as security consultants, developing layers of security for their clients in alliance with their needs (since even the best locks will only delay an intruder for a limited amount of time, these security consultants will build a unique combination of locks, policies and strategies in order to defeat the potential intruder, ensuring the longest possible period of delay).
A skilled locksmith can choose several specialized fields of study. In addition to the aforementioned security consultant, opportunities exist for forensic locksmiths (who do investigative work and often work with law enforcement), automotive lock specialists, safe and vault technicians and master key systems specialists. All these fields offer additional offer the prospective locksmith new opportunity for personal challenge, long term-job security, and lucrative pay.
Anyone interested in becoming a locksmith has several options. The first is to train as an apprentice with a certified master locksmith. Apprenticeships offer opportunities not afforded by regular training; it’s real, “on the job, outside the classroom training”, plus you have the ability to earn a salary as you learn. Other options are traditional schooling; formal training through trade or vocational schools, or an online accredited resource. The three most common levels of certification include Certified Registered Locksmith, Certified Professional Locksmith, and Certified Master Locksmith.
Despite the fact that it’s a career three millennia in age, there has never been a more interesting and challenging time to become a locksmith with credible training! This trade based career offers flexibility, challenge, lucrative pay, long-term sustainability, and the opportunity to become self-employed.