Lesson1: Introduction to Locksmithing - Part 2

The different fields of Locksmithing and types of work performed
I have been a locksmith for more than a decade, working with a company that has been servicing Canada for over 30 years. I have worked in and alongside all facets of the locksmith industry. Locksmithing is a critical trade that is often underrepresented in the trade community. But what is a locksmith, and why is it important to know? As one locksmith I spoke with frankly stated, “a locksmith works with locks.” The essentialism is quite true, yet fails to engage with the dynamic variety within the industry. Locksmithing comprises specific knowledge and skills designed for maintaining security and access control. Access control ensures that those who are allowed entrance to a specific area or building are permitted, while those who are not allowed access to a building are denied. Access control is everywhere – be it the locks on your house or store, your vehicle, parkade or gated community. Many locksmiths are both owner and operator of their business, or they own or work from a locksmith shop from which mobile technicians are dispatched. Locksmith technicians operate in many forms and often take on specialized roles in the industry.


A basic locksmith is authorized to work on a person’s home security. You are allowed to duplicate keys, make new keys, and handle picks. Your basic Locksmith work involves cutting keys, rekeying locks, upgrading door hardware and installing new locks. This requires familiarity with hand tools, power tools, key machines, and lock hardware. A specialized role within this field is the emergency locksmith.


Emergency technicians are on call 24 hours a day. They respond to lockouts, fix break-ins, and repair broken doors. They also engage in basic locksmith work, such as rekeying locks and installing door hardware. Emergency technicians deal with a plethora of moral and ethical crisis. Thus it is important to ensure that you are licensed, bonded and insured. Emergency technicians are called in to change the locks when a spouse has been abused. They open the door into grandma’s house when she hasn’t answered the phone in two weeks, and they change the locks on your door when someone you don’t trust has the keys. Emergency technicians work with people who are scared, angry, and vulnerable and often in conjunction with the police.


A less exciting but equally important aspect of Locksmithing is on the commercial industrial side of business. Commercial locksmiths work on construction sites and developing buildings. Commercial locksmiths need to be able to read blue-prints and be familiar with worksafeBC. They install doors and door hardware. They construct master key systems for the building and integrate construction masters for the crew. Alternatively, locksmiths can reside within pre-existing institutions. Hospitals, prisons, and school boards, are examples of institutions which keep full time locksmiths on their payroll.


High security specialists work with high-security locks, exclusive keyways, and electronic locks as well as with safes. They control access to highly exclusive areas and possess sensitive knowledge of those areas.


Automotive locksmith specialize in automobile locks. For vehicle locks, each year, make, and model often has different internal mechanisms, as well as unique and specific electronic and mechanical hardware. Thus automotive Locksmithing has a steep learning curb and requires a large base of specialized tools and knowledge. This work largely involves opening locked cars, cutting specialized keys, and occasionally tearing out steering coulombs, door panels and reprogramming onboard computers. Most often however, automotive technicians open locked vehicle doors. Automotive technicians often intercede the dealership-client relationship to provide automotive services at a better price and by more reliable technicians.

Locksmithing is a vastly growing enterprise. Just because you specialize in one area of Locksmithing does not mean you can’t offer services from the other areas. The need for greater access control rises with new technologies and rising crime rates. I would encourage everyone to become familiar with the security demands of your area. You should recommend to your customers that they rekey their locks whenever they move into a new building or residence, and any locksmith worth their weight will have great ideas on how to improve security. Locksmithing is often underrepresented in the trade’s community but they are the most important deterrent between your customers, their property, and crime.