Locksmith - How to enter the job
Kaimahi RakaAlternative titles
Locksmiths maintain, repair, install and replace locks, keys, safes, electronic locking devices and access control systems in businesses, private homes, building sites and vehicles.
Apprentice locksmiths with one to three years' experience usually earn
$15-$20 per hour
Qualified locksmiths with more than three years’ experience usually earn
$25-$29 per hour
Source: NZ Locksmith Association, 2015.
Current job prospects
How many people are doing this job?
Source: Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, ‘2006-2014 Occupation Data’ (prepared for Careers New Zealand), 2015.
Pay for locksmiths varies depending on experience, allowances and location.
- Apprentice locksmiths may start on the minimum apprentice rate but usually start on about $15 an hour, with their pay increasing up to $20 as they gain skills and unit standards.
- Qualified locksmiths with one to three years' experience usually earn between $20 and $25.
- Qualified locksmiths with more than three years' experience can earn between $25 and $29.
- Self-employed locksmiths may earn considerably more than this, depending on the success of their business.
Locksmiths can also earn a commission if they are entitled to a percentage of any after-hours call-out fee.
Source: New Zealand Locksmith Association, 2015.
- Ministry of Business, Innovation, and Employment website - information about minimum pay rates
- MoreBusiness.com website - use this calculator to convert pay and salary information
(This information is a guide only. Find out more about the figures and diagrams in our job information)
What you will do
Locksmiths may do some or all of the following:
- install and repair locks, safes, alarm systems and electronic locks
- cut or make keys to fit locks and reset combination locks
- open jammed locks and safes
- advise clients on locks, safes and general security needs
- develop and design master key systems
- unlock vehicles and make replacement keys if necessary
- develop and design electronic key systems and alarms, including transponder keys
- help law enforcement agencies with tenancy evictions, repossessions, search warrants, and forensic investigations.
Skills and knowledge
Locksmiths need to have knowledge of:
- master keying, key making and key cutting
- different lock types, safes and locking mechanisms
- lock repair methods and locksmith workshop equipment
- security alarm systems
- electronic security systems.
- work regular business hours, but may also be on call and have to work at night or during weekends
- often work from a mobile workshop in a van and travel within their region to do jobs
- may work in workshops and travel to jobs at businesses, private homes and vehicles.
What's the job really like?
Dion Di Leva - Locksmith
How did you get into locksmithing?
"I had a cousin who did locksmithing over in Australia and he mentioned it might be a good idea. I started doing work experience through the Gateway programme and when I finished school I started as a trainee. That developed into an apprenticeship, which I was on for two and a half years."
Has this been a good choice for you?
"Trade’s definitely a good idea. Getting trained and paid at the same time is pretty good. I’ve got no debt and am pretty well set up for the future."
What do you like most?
"I like the variety. There are elements of engineering, woodworking and electronics so definitely always something different. The exciting jobs are picking locks, it’s like a little puzzle. I had to pick open a lock on a Porsche, it’s got a lot of technology in it to prevent you from doing it, and being able to bypass that was a lot of fun, very rewarding.
"I’m interested in the electronic side of automotives, so at the moment I’m doing electronic keys and proximity keys – you don’t have to physically put a key in the ignition any more. It’s all moving to access control stuff, when even your phone will open the door."
To become a locksmith you need to complete a three-year apprenticeship and gain a National Certificate in Locksmithing (Level 4).
Competenz, an industry training organisation, oversees locksmith apprenticeships.
Locksmiths must not have any criminal convictions that have a term of imprisonment attached. A security guard licence may be required and it is helpful to have a driver's licence.
- Competenz website - information about the National Certificate in Locksmithing
- Competenz website - information about apprenticeships
Useful subjects include NCEA Level 2 English, maths, workshop technology and computing.
Locksmiths need to be:
- careful and accurate, with an eye for detail
- thorough and efficient
- honest and reliable
- good at problem solving, with the ability to think laterally
- able to work alone and unsupervised.
There's a lot of variety and it's a very stimulating job mentally.
Useful experience for locksmiths includes:
- basic engineering and mechanical workshop skills
- metalwork, woodwork and carpentry
- work with electronic equipment
- customer service experience.
Locksmiths need to have good eyesight (with or without corrective lenses).
Find out more about training
- 0800 526 1800 - firstname.lastname@example.org - www.competenz.org.nz
What are the chances of getting a job?
Rise in demand for locksmiths
Employment for locksmiths declined after the 2008-2009 economic recession, but is predicted to slowly rise to meet growing demand. Locksmith numbers are expected to peak at about 490 by 2019.
Demand for locksmiths is growing because car and homeowners, and businesses are becoming more security-conscious. They want the latest technological devices to help protect their property.
Locksmithing apprenticeships difficult to find
Though there is demand for locksmiths, it can be hard to secure an apprenticeship. Many service companies are small and can only afford to take on a new staff member when someone leaves or the business expands.
When vacancies do arise, employers are more likely to look for staff who already have experience in the role and require minimal training.
Most locksmiths employed by small businesses
Most employers of locksmiths are small, private or family-owned businesses employing up to eight staff members. Some large national companies employ many locksmiths and some large institutions, such as prisons, may also employ their own locksmiths.
Some locksmiths are self-employed, but this is becoming more difficult as requirements like licensing, health and safety, and insurance become more rigorous. However, larger city-based companies do contract some jobs to sole operators in smaller towns if they have no staff employed in that area.
Nearly half of all locksmiths are employed in Auckland, while a quarter are employed in Wellington and Canterbury combined.
- Competenz, 'Locksmithing Careers Information', accessed November 2015, (www.competenz.org.nz).
- Le Breton, A, general manager, Beveridge Locksmiths Limited, Careers New Zealand interview, September 2015.
- Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, '2006-2014 Occupation Data' (prepared for Careers New Zealand), 2015.
- Pinkerton, N, 'Locksmithing – New Zealand Infographics', Infometrics Limited, March 2015, (www.competenz.org.nz).
- Pinkerton, N, 'Locksmithing – New Zealand Report 2014', Infometrics Limited, March 2015, (www.competenz.org.nz).
Progression and specialisations
Locksmiths may progress to become branch or workshop managers. Experienced locksmiths may also start their own businesses.
Locksmiths may specialise in the following areas:
- Automotive Locksmith
- Automotive locksmiths work with vehicle security systems, computers and keys, including transponder and proximity keys.
- Security Consultant
- Security consultants advise people on security requirements, and recommend and design security systems.
Last updated 28 January 2016