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If you’re looking for a career where you can be your own boss, work with your hands, and help people, then becoming a locksmith in California could be the right option for you. In fact, California is home to some of the highest paid locksmiths in the country. Studies show that the average locksmith in California earns $54,470 per year. In addition, locksmiths in the San Francisco area earn an average of more than $68,000 a year.

If you think this could be the right career path for you, it is important to start by understanding what a locksmith does and how to become a locksmith.

A Day-in-the-Life of a Locksmith

As a locksmith, you will help people and businesses on a daily basis. Appointments often involve the installation, repair, or replacement of locks or locking systems on the doors of homes, businesses, vehicles, and safes. You also might cut new or duplicate keys, reprogram key-less locking systems, or install home or business security systems. In addition, you may have some emergency calls. For example, you might have to help people who are locked out of their home or vehicle. You will have the tools and equipment needed to unlock the doors. These calls also may include replacing lost keys or repairing broken locks or keys.

How to become a Locksmith in California

1. Locksmith Training

The first step to becoming a locksmith in California is to get the right training. You should take a locksmith training course or join an apprenticeship program. This training will help you get the skills you need to be a locksmith. You also should consider joining a professional group for locksmiths, such as ALOA (Associated Locksmiths of America). This type of membership can help you get more customers.

Online Locksmith Training Course

One of the easiest ways to get the skills required to become a locksmith is to sign up to an online locksmith training course. Our basic locksmith course is good, but what I’m really talking about is an in-depth online course that will walk you through all of the step-by-step requirements for becoming a locksmith — even if your state doesn’t require training. The job itself requires specialized knowledge that has traditionally been passed down from locksmith to locksmith. That’s what this online course does, it just does it in the comfort of your own home, at your own learning speed. Take your time, learn locksmithing online, and when you’re ready, go out and launch your own locksmithing business.

2. Locksmith License

The state of California calls a locksmith is a person that “installs, repairs, opens or modifies locks, or that originates keys for locks.” So unless you are only going to copy keys, you will need to get a locksmith license. You can’t get a license to be a locksmith in California if you have a past felony. Lesser convictions for crimes, such as fraud or theft, may also prevent you from getting a locksmith license. Here’s a look at the steps you need to take to get a locksmith license in California.

  • Locksmith License – The cost to get a locksmith license in California is $500. You will pay $250 when applying and $250 upon approval. Start by completing the Application for a License form.
  • Live Scan Form – Locksmiths applying for a license also must complete the Locksmith Company Live Scan form. Locksmiths must complete a separate form is for every owner or employee that will work with the company. These forms must also be signed by a Live Scan Operator. Note that the Live Scan operator will charge a fee for each form.
  • Application Submission – Once completed, you must submit your application, Live Scan forms for each individual, and two passport-quality photographs. You also need to include $250 fee for the application, $32 fee for the California DOJ fingerprinting fee (per Live Scan form), and $17 for the FBI fingerprinting fee (per Live Scan form). Be sure to complete every question on the application form. Missing information could delay the processing of your locksmith license.
  • Temporary License – After you submit your application, you will receive a temporary license that expires in 120 days. This temporary license allows you to start working as a locksmith, while the state processes your application.

3. Contractor License

California also requires all contractors, including locksmiths, that earn more than $500 at a single site to obtain a contractors state license. You must complete the application and then take and pass the Lock and Security Equipment contractor test. In addition, you will need to submit fingerprints and get bond/insurance. The cost to obtain a contractor license is $300.

4. Local Permits

Depending on where you operate your business, you may be required to obtain local permits. You should contact the local offices in every district you plan to work in to find out what their permit policies are for locksmiths.

5. Sales and Use Tax

Some, but not all, locksmith services are subject to sales and use tax. Services, such as making new or duplicate keys or installing locks on a new property must include sales tax. It’s important to know the sales and use tax rules for locksmiths before starting your business.

6. Business Insurance

California requires licensed locksmiths to have both insurance and bonding. This coverage will help to protect your personal and business assets. It also offers protection in the event of an accident, lawsuit, errors, and mistakes.

Becoming a locksmith in California is ideal for those wanted to start their own business. Once you understand how to become a locksmith in California, you can apply to become a locksmith. Getting your locksmith and contractor license, buying business insurance and purchasing the necessary tools and equipment is all you’ll need to do to start your business.

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