In the broadest sense, locksmiths are people whose trade is principally concerned with the installation, maintenance and repair of access prevention hardware. This hardware may be of the traditional, mechanical sort such as deadbolts, master key systems and car locks or it may be electronic equipment such as CCTV systems, biometric access control devices and electronic locking hardware.
Locksmiths incorporate the skills of a carpenter, mechanic, machinist and security expert during the course of their work. There is a subset of locksmith skills that has always garnered a great deal of interest from the public at large: defeating locks! Locksmiths study how various locking devices work and, through that study, they learn how to defeat those locking mechanisms. These are the most closely-guarded trade secrets among locksmiths. The knowledge possessed by even apprentice locksmiths is enough to defeat most common security measures. For this reason, locksmiths are typically rigorously screened by their mentors before they’re offered an apprenticeship.
Locksmiths are somewhat defined by the clients for whom they work. Their specific skills, depending on their market, can vary greatly. Those locksmiths who specialize in residential service often spend a great deal of their time outfitting new construction with locking hardware and repairing and replacing aged and broken systems. Most residential locksmiths also offer at least some light automotive locksmithing services including cutting new keys and opening locked doors.
Commercial locksmiths provide their skills principally to corporate and government clients. Today’s commercial locksmiths are oftentimes trained and experienced in dealing with sophisticated electronic equipment. Those who specialize in electronic security are often employed maintaining large facilities where security is a great concern.
Among the most respected of locksmiths are those who work on safes. The locksmithing skills required working with safes and vaults take many years of study to master. These locksmiths are often called in when a safe, for some reason, is rendered unable to open. These individuals with skilled trades, given enough time, are able to open most any device without damaging the contents. Sometimes, they’re able to “crack” a safe without damaging the locking mechanism, as well. This skill doesn’t at all resemble the way it’s portrayed in films. Mastering the art of safe cracking requires knowledge of many different safes, metallurgy, the operation of very powerful and complex drilling equipment, electronic devices and much more.
Many locksmiths are self-employed and lead a very independent existence. Because the skill is so specialized, there are few opportunities for “staff” locksmiths. These independent locksmiths often work odd hours, opening doors in the middle of the night for stranded homeowners and drivers, as well as installing security systems during the hours when buildings are being used the least.
Locksmiths are required to obtain different types of licensing, depending on where they work. Locksmiths are also traditionally “bonded” which is a legal means of assuring their trustworthiness to their clients. Traditionally, locksmiths undergo an apprenticeship though many have received training through an employer or by attending a school specific to the trade.
Although a locksmith’s job seems very exciting and appealing to most people, there is a lot of skill, education, and experience involved.