Becoming a locksmith – The Real Picture
The locksmith trade is relatively small compared to – lets say the plumbing and electrical trades, therefore locksmith apprenticeships are harder to come by in comparison but the good news is there is always works for locksmiths and the industry continues to grow at a steady pace.
A locksmith apprenticeship take 4 years to complete through a Government TAFE course, 1 day a week for 3 years and the 4th year is with your employer only. You may choose to do block release if you don’t live near a TAFE that offers the course. This means you go to TAFE for one full week and back to work for a month or two.
To find a job as an apprentice locksmith in Australia is as simple as looking online as there is usually always an apprenticeship up for grabs for the right applicant. The keys words here is “the right applicant”.
Throughout my career I have assisted in hiring and firing apprentice locksmiths and it’s no easy task. Then again sometimes it’s very easy as most of the applicant’s resume barely make it from the printer to the desk.
what does it take to get a job as an apprentice locksmith?
Do some research about locks, keys and the locksmith industry. If you have some knowledge of what you might be walking into then your potential employer will appreciate it. Do you think a locksmith just cuts keys like Mister Minute? Look at some locksmith websites, supplier websites and locksmith organisations such as MLAA. This will give you an idea of what we do and the products we work with. Here are some links:
Safezone Locksmiths Central Coast (my website)
Locksmith Supply Company (one of my suppliers)
Master Locksmith Association of Australasia
Don’t be afraid to drop off your resume in person to the local locksmith businesses and just let them know you are looking for a job as an apprentice locksmith and give them a copy of your resume. Make sure you look presentable. I would think it is common sense to look smart but believe me I have seen some guys who have no dress sense. Just smart casual will do.If you past the initial interview and have been given a day trial or week trial, then well done but you are not quiet there yet. You will most likely be asked to do some simple tasks like cutting some keys, or rekeying some locks. Don’t worry if you stuff things up. Every apprentice locksmith makes mistakes on their first day. It’s totally normal. So listen carefully and try not to get nervous as it’s hard to concentrate when you are nervous. Ask questions about locksmithing in general, the machines and locks. Don’t be afraid to ask is you are not sure how to do something.
Expectations of you as an Apprentice Locksmith
In my position as a Workshop Manager, it was my job to teach everything I knew about locksmithing, from picking locks, rekeying locks, opening safes, keying up high security master key systems and the most boring job, stamping restricted keys, and much more. Though if the apprentice wasn’t interested in learning their new trade, then I wouldn’t give them much of my time to teach it. It was a conscious decision I made because teaching takes time and it’s best not wasted. If you are genuinely interested in learning something, then you will remember a lot easier. So I feel you should take interest in learning all there is to know about locksmithing. If you are not interested, then you are most likely in the wrong trade.
As a first year apprentice, you will most likely get the boring jobs that nobody wants to do. I was totally over stamping and cutting restricted keys so that was one of the first things I taught to my apprentices. Cleaning and sweeping was also another boring, but essential part of locksmithing. So expect to do the crappy jobs because somebody needs to do them and unfortunately you are at the bottom of the pecking order.
What you should expect from your locksmith employer?
They should treat you with respect. Even if you are at the bottom of the pecking order, it doesn’t mean you should be treated disrespectfully or unfairly. Most locksmiths employers within the industry are fare and want to keep you as a long-term employee. You should be treated as an asset to the business, which means the longer you stay the better asset you become.
If you are not being treated fairly, then something might be going on or your employer is a grump. There are some employers who use first year apprentices for cheap labour. If you find yourself doing the same repetitive work all day everyday then it’s probably time to look for another employer. YOU ARE NOT BEING TREATED FAIRLY! As an apprentice your employer’s responsibility is to teach you the trade. That’s why you will get paid peanuts. That is the trade off. The repetitive work may involve stamping keys and keying up restricted keys systems. If that is the majority of your work day in day out, then look for another job.
You may want to talk to your employer first before deciding to move on. Sometimes just a chat is good enough to fix the problem.
As mentioned at the beginning, the locksmith industry is relatively small, therefore if you do decide to change jobs then don’t be afraid to tell your new potential employer that you feel you were not getting enough training where you were or you thought you were be treated unfairly. Be honest is your best approach. Locksmith owners generally know many other locksmith owners within the industry and word gets around if locksmith owner is not treating there employees fairly. And vice versa, if you are not a very good employee then word gets around about that too, so be warned.
Should I work for a Mobile Locksmith or a Locksmith with a Store Front?
Both have their pros and cons. With a mobile locksmith, it’s like Star Wars – the master and the apprentice and you can learn so much faster. But if your master isn’t the best teacher or worse still, not a very good locksmith, then you are on a path you should try to avoid. If you have the ability to self learn then this may be an ideal approach for you. You get to do all the interesting stuff from day one. Finding a mobile locksmith who is willing to take you on is another issue altogether. They may not have the time for a first year apprentice and would much prefer to hire a second or third year instead who can be more productive.
Working for larger locksmith company with a shopfront is probably the most likely place you will find an apprenticeship. Try and work hard and see if you can try to work in all areas the shop has to offer. Try and get out on the road with the locksmiths and try and learn something from everyone there. That way you have the opportunity to learn many ways of a locksmith and then you can pick the best way that suits yourself.
Other information about becoming locksmith.
Locksmith tradesman usually receive a work van, mobile phone, possibly a laptop and access to after-hour work if available. But as an apprentice you will most likely be waiting for a few years before you receive these unless you are leaning at an accelerated rate. If you are very good you may get rewarded much sooner.
As an apprentice you may be given specialised tools for free like rekeying tools or picks (to stay in the shop) or you may have to pay for them yourself. Expect to pay for the general hand tool and cordless drills etc. Your boss or fellow employees with most likely guide you as to what you will need to buy and the best order to buy them in.
Practical jokes can be funny or not funny at all. Usually depend on your own personality and the severity of the joke. If it happens within the place you work and you enjoy it, well I think it’s great. But it’s a problem, or bordering on bullying then you may want to speak to your boss. Sometime you just might not be suited to the way the business is running and moving on to another place may be the best solution. The way one locksmith runs their business, may be completely different to the way the locksmith down the road runs theirs.
Expect to work for at least a half day on Saturdays. Yes I know it sucks but that’s the life of a locksmith. If are lucky then you may not have to work on the weekend at all.
Well I hope this has been informative and good luck with finding an apprentice locksmith job. May the force be with you!
Feel free to contact me via my contact page if you would like some more information about becoming a locksmith. Who knows, maybe I’ll see you around the traps someday or maybe you might start working as my apprentice.