Becoming a locksmith requires a lifetime investment. More than a financial investment, this trade demands the never-ending necessity of your time. That time is spent learning and practicing. Getting better, refining your craft, and changing with the demands of the consumer. Many skills of the profession are perishable. That means that if practice halts for any amount of time, the ability will atrophy. Lock picking might not be called for over the course of several days, and, as a result, your ability diminishes. For instance, if you prefer manual picking over electric picking, it is important to practice. The only way to combat that is to always be practicing. Even when the job does not demand something, it is still demanding it. Lock picks, security pins, and other parts of the locksmith arsenal can be made and these will be a handy addition to any lock pick set. It is going to take time to learn and perfect the process of making some of your tools. Making these materials can result in superior supplies, but getting to that point is going to require trial, error, and a whole lot of time. There will most likely be an investment in this process too, depending on your access to free scrap metal and old locks.
Because you should never pick locks that you do not own, or you own locks that are in use, you will need ways of getting a hold of practice locks. The best way to know that you can pick and rekey a Ruko or an Evva is to pick and rekey them. High-Security locks can necessitate the knowledge of that particular lock. Finding out how certain mechanisms work is reliant on taking some time with it, and taking it apart. Getting a hold of very particular locks can get expensive or time-consuming. Online communities and meet up groups exist that pass locks around to save money in this regard. These groups are undeniably beneficial to not just monetary savings, but also the wealth of knowledge you will have access to. Sharing insights and talking about the craft will deepen your understanding and make the process more personal. It can also be a lot of fun, but it goes to show, that the job spills over into personal life. Conversation and your own free time will start to center around the job. It can be hard to escape, so it needs to be something you enjoy.
Although there are many tools that you can make for yourself, there are certain things that you might need to purchase. Tools of the trade are often very expensive. There are often cheaper products, and ways like eBay to get higher quality supplies on a budget. Finding out what you need and buying on a budget will both rely on spending time. It will also take time to sift through the many brands of lock picking tools to see which one will be the best fit for you. It will also cost to get some of the information you may need. There are many locksmith training courses and schools out there that claim to have this type of information. Some definitely do. Just be wary of courses that claim to have quick comprehensive training or include declarations of how much money the skills will make you. The classes that are cheap can also be a little shady. Often cheap training courses rely on the upsell of unnecessary or overpriced tools to cover costs. Information with the underlying purpose of selling you goods will often be flawed in favor of the sale. That means they might stress the importance of a fiber optic light or a state of the art pinning tray when these items do not represent the job. And the investment does not stop there, one locksmith says:
…over half of what I charge goes right back into the company in the form of gas, insurance, advertising, trade organization dues, license fees, vehicle maintenance, tools, supplies, and other expenses…
The licenses, insurances, and bonds you have to carry can cost a small fortune. I have a city business license, a state locksmith license, a State Contractor’s License for car door lock change and security work, two insurance policies (general liability and commercial vehicle insurance), two different bonds, and I am a member of two major national trade organizations. In California, you need to be fingerprinted and pass State and Federal background tests…
The cost of running a business like this can be overwhelming and there is always another tool you need to buy, another software update, or replacement parts/tools that need to be ordered. I am currently saving up for a high security key machine that retails for $5,800.
Always be wary of any of the information you are given, and try to corroborate everything you learn with a practical test or third party validation.