Locksmithing - General Description Of The Profession

Translated by: Alexandra Igna (2019)

Locksmiths are safety consultants that work in locksmith companies, institutions such as hospitals and universities, or in companies offering locksmithing, security system installation and other similar services. These persons may also be self-employed or work for large companies.

Locksmiths may perform the following duties:

  • analysis of customer needs;

  • installation, maintenance, repairs, unlocking and replacement of building locking devices, safes, vaults, safety boxes, motor vehicles, furniture, and others.

These devices can be mechanical, electrical or electronic. Among the work functions of a locksmith, we can also include the following tasks:

  • development and management of regular and controlled master key systems;

  • key cutting for locks (by printing, by reproduction or by code);

  • configuration and programming of electronic keys or locks;

  • installation and replacement of architectural hardware units;

  • consulting and sale of locksmith and architectural hardware products and consulting services.

When performing their duties, locksmiths must comply with the laws and regulations pertaining to their profession. These specialists must also perform their tasks accurately to ensure the proper functioning and effectiveness of the mechanisms.

Employment Applications And Limits Of The Job Function

The specialists of the profession have retained the title of locksmith for this analysis as it represents all of the responsibilities inherent in the work function.

Activity Fields

Many different types of companies hire locksmiths. These may be residential, commercial, industrial or institutional.

Terms Of Practice For The Profession

Responsibilities And Supervision

As their main responsibilities, locksmiths have to carry out the analysis of the needs of the clientele depending on, for example, buildings, safes, vaults, safety boxes, motor vehicles or furniture. They inform or advise customers about the work that needs to be done and the products that will be used.

These specialists provide installation, maintenance, correction, unlocking, replacement and repair of mechanical, electrical or electronic locking devices.

Other locksmith tasks include: system development and management for regular and controlled master keys; the cutting of lock keys (by printing, by reproduction or by code); configuration and programming of electronic keys or locks; the installation and replacement of architectural hardware units; consulting and sales of locksmith and architectural hardware products, as well as consulting services.

Locksmiths must also answer calls from clients and manage appointments with them. Time management is important in the practice of the profession. For example, locksmiths must ensure that installation or repair work is completed in time to lock the premises. In general, the degree of autonomy of these specialists is high.

The main decisions locksmiths participate in concern:

  • priority setting based on the urgency of the requests, the needs of the clientele and the route to be followed;

  • work hour estimates;

  • submissions;

  • work conformity in relation to the current laws and regulations;

  • the need to obtain permission to unlock a lock;

  • the choice of products to be used according to the immediate and future needs of the clientele;

  • the amount of investment required for the type and quantity of products to be offered;

  • the purchase of tools, materials, and equipment.

Nature Of Work

Locksmiths work alone or with co-workers and supervisors. They use the following tools, equipment, and supplies: pin box, pliers, tubes, picking tools, drilling tools, rough wrenches, key machines, measuring tape or ruler, telephone, computer, conventional or computerized mathematical matrix, miscellaneous software, etc.

In the case additional expertise is needed, the work equipment can consist of bags, labels, a microscope, an endoscope, a camera, etc. Among the types of locks used by locksmiths, we can mention conventional mechanical locks, electronic, electrical or electromechanical locks or locks designed for motorized vehicles, safes or vaults. Different locks come with different grades. Generally, grade 1 corresponds to institutional locks, grade 2 to commercial types of locks and grade 3 to residential types of locks.

Work Environment

The work environment of a locksmith can vary by function. They may be required to work in a workshop set up in a room or truck, on a construction site or in an industrial, commercial, institutional or residential establishment. If legal expertise is needed, specialists may be required to report to a courthouse.

Among the factors that can lead to stress in the workplace, participants in the occupational analysis workshop mentioned the pressure arising from customer requirements, the concern related to customer satisfaction, the management of time and priorities, the need to properly assess needs, the fear of making mistakes, the concern to maintain professional relationships with clients or difficult clients, the constraints of the amount of work to be done alone when providing 24-hour service and work-family balance.

They also mentioned other stressors related to specific work situations, such as unlocking a car lock when a baby is inside, working with a bailiff or police, opening a safe containing firearms, etc.

The main health and safety risks for locksmiths are characterized by bodily injuries related to the handling of tools and poor work postures, work-related hazards, the need to perform on construction sites and road accidents during frequent travels.

While completing their duties, locksmiths must ensure that the performed work complies with the laws and regulations in force, particularly with respect to building standards.

Working Conditions

Locksmiths usually work during the day, in the evening, on weekends or as needed. Their schedule varies according to the requests of the customers and the urgency of the work to be carried out. These people must be in good physical form and have lots of endurance. Their work also requires dexterity when handling tools and equipment.

Conditions To Enter The Job Market

Employers do not currently require a diploma in locksmith studies. Someone can become a specialist in the profession as long as they have sufficient funds, a truck, and the necessary tools. It should be noted that employers are not keen to hire people without a criminal record. However, individuals with a sense of professional ethics, mathematical knowledge, interest in challenging situations, and the ability to make decisions are sought.

The main qualities a locksmith needs are: manual dexterity, versatility, analytical thinking, good listening skills, good communication skills, interpersonal skills, professional and neat appearance, honesty and integrity, curiosity, ability to reassure, perseverance, sense of resourcefulness.

Among the reasons why locksmiths choose this path, we can mention: the variety of tasks and their non-routine nature, the challenges to be met, the contact with the public, the satisfaction of helping and the pleasure of providing a sense of security, interest in new products as well as the evolution of techniques and products.

Employment Outlook And Pay

According to participants in the workshop, employment prospects are favorable. In recent years, there has even been an increase in demand. However, profession specialists specify that locksmith training is necessary to provide quality work

Locksmiths work all year round. Their annual salary can range from $ 25,000 to $ 39,000. A person can earn $10 to $13 an hour at the beginner stage, $12 to $15 an hour at the intermediate stage and $15 or more at the advanced stage.

Associations And Unions

Locksmiths may be members of specialized associations, such as: Quebec Master Locksmith Association, Canadian Locksmith Association, National Locksmith Association, The Association of Ontario Locksmiths (TAOL), Associated Locksmiths of America (ALOA), Safe and Vault Technicians Association (SAVTA).

The main goals of these associations are to publicize and develop the profession, to provide access to information and training, to create partnerships, to promote the visibility of the profession and to communicate job offers.

The Presence Of Women In The Profession

The locksmith profession is mainly performed by men. There is indeed a low presence of women.

Trends And Prospects

Professionals have indicated that the main changes observed in the labor market relate to the new products offered. There is a certain evolution in terms of products and types of locks. In addition, the use of computer technology promotes the productivity of specialists, access to information and professional development. Finally, locksmiths must take into account changes to the various codes that govern buildings.

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