What to Expect
Though locksmith training students learn the basics in class, most of their
training comes through hand-on activities.
Jeff Bristow took locksmithing by correspondence. He chose locksmithing
because it's a skill he can take with him. "Wherever we go, I just need my
van, my tools and a phone book advertisement and I'm in business," he explains.
Correspondence learning doesn't mean less homework. Bristow had a reading
assignment with each lesson, so he studied about an hour per day. There
were also two weekly exams.
Every third week, there was a hands-on exercise. "The school will send
a lock and a few tools," explains Bristow.
"The lesson teaches how to pick, repin and manipulate that variety of
lock. The length of time that takes depends on natural mechanical ability
and how well the student understands the material."
Bristow's tuition fee included a set of lock picks, four textbooks,
practice locks, a repinning and service kit and a key-duplicating machine.
He advises trainees to shop around and not spend a lot of money on specialty
"Locksmithing is done by feel, so the type of tools that work for one person
might not work for others," he says. "Many of the locksmith tools out there
will be useless to a person who uses a different technique."
How to Prepare
"Stay out of trouble," advises Bristow. "Most local governments will deny
a locksmith license to anyone with a criminal record."
Mary Thomas is a graduate of a community college locksmithing program.
She says high school students should try to get an after-school job with
a locksmith. "That's the best way to learn," she says. "Seeing the locksmith