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Can a Felon Become a Locksmith?

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After prison you might consider a career in the trades and could be interested in becoming a locksmith. The issue is whether or not a felon can become a locksmith. 

Let’s look at this question.

In this blog post, we’ll cover the following:

  • What Is a Locksmith?
  • Becoming a Locksmith
  • How Much Does a Locksmith Earn?
  • An Opportunity for Felons?
  • Background Check?
  • Does the Type of Felony Make a Difference?
  • Steps to Take


What Is a Locksmith?

A locksmith works with locks, installing and repairing them in a wide variety of locations. A locksmith also provides services such as helping customers who are locked out of their homes, businesses, and vehicles. 

As a locksmith, you must also know how to use a number of tools, how to open and repair safes, and how to install and remove locks, copy keys, and maintain lock systems. 

Locksmiths are entrusted with working in secure areas at times. In addition to a knowledge of locks and other traditional locksmith skills, you must be honest and have high integrity.

Becoming a Locksmith

There are different training requirements to become a locksmith. However, it is standard to be at least 18 years old and have a high school diploma or GED. 

You also have to complete locksmith training or at least some type of apprenticeship.

Training to become a locksmith involves classroom instruction and hands-on experience. Many locksmith schools and training programs are located across the country offering courses certified through the Associated Locksmiths of America (ALOA).

The curriculum of each educational program involves learning about locks and keys as well as home and business security systems, electronic access locks, and the basics of a safe.

While the classroom and training are essential, you might also complete an apprenticeship or work as a trainee with an experienced locksmith. An apprentice practices locksmith skills under an experienced locksmith.

There are different requirements according to each state to obtain a license, and some type of certification can show you have met the standards for training and experience. 

Because locksmiths have access to people’s homes and to sensitive security information and high-security areas, trust is an essential component for a locksmith.

A license may be required in many states, but you can seek voluntary certification. Associated Locksmiths of America offers certifications for a locksmith at different levels of competence. 

You can first obtain a Certified Registered Locksmith designation. Additional training and experience will allow you to become a Certified Professional Locksmith and then a Certified Master Locksmith.

To reach the level of Certified Registered Locksmith, you must pass an exam that measures your knowledge of the essentials of being a locksmith, including 10 areas relating to locks, keys, security systems, and lock-opening techniques.

It will easily take you several months to complete a locksmith training course. Additional on-the-job training can take you several months or more to complete. 

An apprenticeship typically lasts from two to three years.

That’s a lot to take in.

Looking at licensing, many states require licensing to become a locksmith, including:

  • Alabama
  • California
  • Connecticut
  • Illinois
  • Louisiana
  • Maryland
  • Nebraska
  • Nevada
  • New Jersey
  • North Carolina
  • Oklahoma
  • Oregon
  • Tennessee
  • Texas
  • Virginia

Now remember that some states permit you to become a locksmith with certification and don’t require a license.

How Much Does a Locksmith Earn?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics there were approximately 15,380 locksmiths in the U.S. in 2021 with a median annual income of $47,810. The median salary is the salary at which half of the locksmiths earned more than that amount and half earned less. 

Income may be higher on the East or West coast with their many large cities.

The trade will likely continue to grow with additional demand for qualified locksmiths across the nation due to increased construction in homes and businesses.

An Opportunity for Felons?

Yes, it’s possible to become a locksmith with a felony conviction. It’s not easy since felons aren’t considered to be the most trustworthy.

The standards to become a locksmith are different according to the state. Typical standards indicate that you must:

  • Not have been arrested, charged, or indicted for a crime
  • Not have been convicted of a felony within the past five years
  • Be mentally competent
  • Not be alcohol or drug dependent
  • Have been Honorably Discharged from any military service

That opens the door to the opportunity to pursue the locksmith trade. But that isn’t all as you can imagine.

Certain criteria make a difference in whether or not a crime is considered related to working as a locksmith:

  • Nature and seriousness of the crime
  • Relationship of the crime to the duties of a locksmith
  • Extent to which a locksmith certification might offer for further criminal activity
  • Amount of time since last criminal conviction
  • Amount of time since release from incarceration
  • Work history before and after the conviction
  • Evidence of rehabilitation

Background Check?

You guessed it. There is a lengthy licensing process to go through. And of course, part of this will be a background check. So, there will be more than one background check conducted along the way.

There will be a background check run to enter any locksmith training program and to qualify for licensing.

They don’t make it easy to become a locksmith, but then it is a position that demands trust and integrity because of the security measures related to the protection of homes and businesses.

Some of the more heavily regulated states require a background check that will look for any crimes, including felonies in the past 10 years. 

There will also be fingerprints taken and matched through a national database.

Some of these more regulated states like Texas expect you to register with the Texas Board of Public Security for which a background check will be conducted over the past 10 years.

Does the Type of Felony Make a Difference?

The type of felony does make a difference whether or not you can become a locksmith with a felony conviction.

There are different requirements depending on the state. Typically, as is the case with many professional trades, certain convictions may not eligible for professional licensing, including offenses:

  • Involving fraud or deceptive trade practices 
  • Against children or a sexual crime 
  • Against property like theft or burglary 
  • Involving homicide, kidnapping, or assault 

Steps to Take

If you want to be successful in becoming a locksmith, you must be honest about your background. Lying about your criminal record could jeopardize your chances.

You should run a background check on yourself to see what a locksmith program or a state licensing board would discover if they ran a background check on you.

Give yourself the best chance at becoming a locksmith. It would help to have your record expunged, if you are eligible. Then you could honestly say on an application that you haven’t been convicted of a felony.

You’ve made a lot of mistakes in the past, but you don’t have to be defined by them. You are defined by how you recover from those mistakes.

If you want to become a locksmith, don’t get discouraged and give up.

You can live an honest lifestyle. You could become a locksmith if you persevere through all of the steps.

What do you think about this blog post? Have you or someone you know been in the situation of trying to become a locksmith with a felony? What was that like, and what happened? Please tell us in the comments below.

2 thoughts on “Can a Felon Become a Locksmith?”

  1. I want to become a locksmith in the state of California. I have an expungement and haven’t been in any trouble with the law in almost 30 years. Yet was met with resistance from the department of rehabilitation when they were faced with the choice of paying for my training. Not sure what moves to make at this time. I need funding.


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