Not many people know everything it takes to become a locksmith. That’s why today the best Houston Texas Locksmith will explain.
*PLEASE NOTE: This guide will go over Texas standards and laws for locksmithing. Please be aware some details and exceptions may exist for your local state, country, or territory.*
So you want to be a locksmith? Well, you’ve chosen a growing trade to jump into. We’re asked this question at Guardian Safe & Lock quite a lot. Locksmithing is on the upsurge as there’s more and more demand for security installations as technology advances. So what do you need to have and know?
It all begins with what parts of the trade you’re interested in taking on. There are specialized locksmiths for homes, commercial locksmiths, automotive locksmiths, security safe locksmiths, access control installers, surveillance camera system installers, and more. As you can see locksmiths have evolved beyond just offering the traditional services they once specialized in. Locksmiths these days are also skilled and licensed in CCTV, Home Automation, and Access Control. For the purposes of this blog, we’ll be covering every angle from our point of view as a locksmith in Texas.
Licensing And Paperwork
The first thing you’re going to want to figure out in order to become a locksmith is your local area’s laws regarding locksmithing and security work. Some areas require completion of an apprenticeship program. Some have no requirements at all. The best way to know for sure what the law is is to check with your local authority and other locksmiths in your area. Not everyone has the same requirements to tackle as your favorite Cypress TX locksmith.
For example, in Texas, you have to work for a licensed locksmith for a minimum of 2 years and have a licensed locksmith sign-off on your experience before you’re allowed to take what’s called an “owner/manager test” in order to be licensed as a business. This includes working by yourself as a one-man operation. This license, again in Texas, is issued by the Private Security Board (PSB) of the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS).
Once this licensure is secure, the next thing you need to do is apply for a DBA (also known as a “Doing Business As” aka an official business name). You can file for this after filling out the correct forms at your local courthouse. Once approved, a DBA is valid for 10 years. Then you’ll want to get a tax id number or tax-exempt number so that you can purchase trade parts and materials without paying tax for purposes of retail. You may also want to look into insurance or bonding, in order to reassure customers that your work will not cause them or yourself any unnecessary financial headaches. Again, this varies depending on where you live and where you intend to practice locksmithing.
Parts And Tools
The very first thing you’re going to need is a supply of keys and a lot of them at that. While some keys are relatively common enough to see every day, others may throw you for a loop. Even seasoned locksmiths of decades don’t know every lock a key blank can fit into.
For every 10 Kwikset KW1 house keys you’ll see, you may get an oddball from the ‘50s, or a key to a private airplane. The point is when it comes to key blanks; you’re better to have too many than not enough. It’s also wise to invest in a labeling system for these keys to help keep them organized. Some key suppliers may even have a “new shop” package with a wide assortment of various common and uncommon key blanks to start with.
If you’re becoming an automotive locksmith, you’ll also need a supplier for automotive transponder keys and fobs for all the different makes and models of vehicles people may call on you to help with. In addition to these, you’ll also need to find a reputable programmer in order to ensure they correctly work your customer’s vehicle.
You’ll also need decorative keys to tempt shoppers into spending a little extra money with you, as well as accessories for them. Think about this for a moment; if you’re buying a new key don’t you usually need a new keyring, or at least a keychain or tag? These thoughts are the realities of running a business: anticipating what a customer needs before they voice it.
You’ll also need a range of standard door hardware. Levers, knobs, and deadbolts of various grades as well as the hand tools to install them. A pinning kit is also a necessity, you can’t rekey locks without a pin kit.
In addition to your stock and tools, you’ll also need machinery to actually cut and modify keys for your customers. The most basic tools you’ll need would be a key duplicator, originator, and a high-security key duplicator if you’re going into automotive locksmithing for newer style vehicles. These machines will allow you to copy nearly any key that you cross paths with, as well as creating new keys from scratch for customers who have lost all keys to their lock.
Also, don’t forget that you’ll need a service van to provide mobile service to your customers. You can either purchase a truck with a camper if you’re on a tight budget, or a smaller service vehicle or even a larger van if it’s in the budget. If you are buying a new service vehicle, you can even get it outfitted with a locksmith package. Most of the larger American made service vehicles have these types of shelving packages, and often give credits and discounts when purchasing a new service vehicle.
If you plan on having a retail location as well, then you’re in for a whole other set of tools and parts needed to run a storefront. I would recommend converting from a mobile to a retail storefront after some success as a mobile company. It is hard enough to try and establish a new business without the overhead of a retail location.
Software And Systems
Something else worth remembering is the software that allows you to run your business. You’ll need some sort of invoicing system for sure, and QuickBooks to ensure you have quick access to all of your sales for warranty or legal purposes. You’ll want a way to process credit card payments and some form of till for cash balancing.
As mentioned before, if you’re going to be an automotive locksmith a programmer is a must, but it’s also important to sign up for NASTAF or your local equivalent in order to “run a VIN”. This process allows you to receive the original cuts from the dealer in the case of someone losing every key for their vehicle.
If you go into locksmithing as a safe technician, you also might want to join SAVTA or your local equivalent in order to gain certification from this body and receive drill-points and other important information for this specialty.
For commercial locksmithing, a solid master-keying program is suggested, but not necessary. You’ll save yourself hours of time and math by investing, however.
In most places, access control technicians and security camera installers also have their own, separate licensing programs that must be completed as well to be allowed to legally perform these services and operate your business.
In conclusion, you need a lot to become a locksmith. There are the standard hurdles of becoming an entrepreneur as well as additional challenges required for licensing, bonding, and more.
As we’ve stated several times in this blog article; these are the most basic guidelines and tips for locksmiths operating out of the U.S. state of Texas. Your locality may have different rules, laws, and regulations for locksmithing or private security installers. Please take this into consideration when applying what we’ve discussed here in the real world, as your area may be entirely different in what they consider essential to run a locksmithing business or even just working as a locksmith.
We hope this article has been informative and helpful to you, reader, and want to announce that part 2 of this series of blogs discussing mobile locksmithing will be coming soon. Thank you for reading this blog and we hope to have you here next time!