If you have time to pick a locksmith (as opposed to picking the first locksmith you find because you are in an emergency situation), then you should always make sure to ask about the locksmith’s certifications. Most states don’t require locksmiths to have any sort of certification. However, many locksmiths will still get certified in order to stay competitive in their trades.
There are a lot of different certifications available – including some which can be ordered online without any real training or experience. These certifications are basically useless and will not indicate that your locksmith performs quality work. The Associated Locksmiths of America (ALOA) has designated certain certifications for locksmiths. Here is an overview of these certifications:
- Registered Locksmith (RL): Locksmiths with this title have completed at least 12 classes of 8 hours each or a 5-6 day course with an exam at the final.
- Certified Registered Locksmith (CRL): This is the first level of locksmithing certification. Locksmiths with this certification must have passed at least 10 categories of locksmithing in addition to 2 specialties.
- Certified Professional Locksmith (CPL): This is the second level of locksmithing certification. They have achieved the level of CRL as well as 12 specialty electives of their choice.
- Certified Master Locksmith (CML): This is the highest level of certification that a locksmith can achieve. These locksmiths have achieved the level of CPL plus shown themselves skilled in at least 90% of the available specialty categories.
- Certified Automotive Locksmith: These locksmiths have a good knowledge of all general aspects of car locks.
Mandatory Requirements for Locksmith Certification
Locksmiths receive certification after passing a written exam. There are currently 36 different categories on the exams but only 10 of them are required for the most basic certification. These 10 required categories include: codes and code equipment, cylinder servicing, key blank identification, key duplication, key impressioning, professional lock opening techniques, lockset functions, lockset servicing, basic master keying, and cabinet-furniture-mailbox locks.The other categories are specialties in locksmithing such as foreign and domestic cars, safes, and installation practices.
Note: there are also other certifications specifically for safes. The standards for these certifications are set by the Safe and Vault Technicians Association (SAVTA). These certifications include Certified Professional Safe Technician (CPST) and Certified Master Safe Technician (CMST).
If you need a locksmith for a common purpose, such as helping you when you get locked out of your house or rekeying a lock, then the most basic locksmith certification will generally suffice. If you are dealing with a high security lock or new car locks, then you may need a master locksmith which specializes in your purpose.
Regardless of why you need a locksmith, it is important that you ask what certification he/she has and where the certification is from. You shouldn’t trust your locks with just anyone! By choosing a certified locksmith in your local area, you can trust that the job will be done correctly and you are getting an expert tradesman dedicated to the job.