Most classes you take at locksmith school will offer you a combination of classroom study and practical applications so you can get hands-on experience. You will have to inquire with your school about whether you have to supply your own textbooks and tools or not. Some schools also offer you the opportunity to schedule your classes in a way that still allows you to work – perhaps as an amateur locksmith with a company that will allow you to do some on-the-job training.
In your first class as a part of your locksmith training, you will likely go over mostly entry-level techniques and will learn how to use hand tools, power tools, and special industry equipment. You might cover topics that include key blanks review; Kwikset, Arrow, and Schlage locks; and how to use key cutting machines. You will also be introduced to impressions and picking as well as lock finishes and functions. As this is probably the first class you will take toward your certificate of completion, there is likely not any prerequisite you need to take before signing up for this course, other than submitting all documentation with your application and passing a drug screen test.
Although you may not have considered this, you will have to be knowledgeable about a number of industry standards before you can be awarded a locksmith certificate from most colleges. Classes that focus on this aspect of the trade typically cover issues such as legal issues, ethics, basic master keying, and life safety codes. You will review the rules of master keying as well as study master key cylinders, progression charts, combinations and key punching, and cross keying. Your instructor might also teach you about mortise lock sets and introduce you to codes. There may be a prerequisite to this course, such as the entry-level technique class.
After you have mastered the basics of locksmith techniques, you can move on to more advanced practices. You may have a particular focus in this course, such as heavy-duty or specialized locks. Class time will be devoted to alarm sounding devices, electronic locks, and hollow metal door locks. You might also be trained in keyless locksets and how to read blueprints, as well as how to select appropriate hardware. You will also continue to practice master keying. Some schools will allow you to get into certain advanced classes without taking the necessary prerequisites if you have had some professional experience as a locksmith.
One of the factors that separates really successful locksmiths from the majority of workers in the profession is their knowledge of specialty subjects and uncommon skills. If you are lucky, the school or training program you attend will have a class in such topics. In a class like this you will learn about closed circuit television, safe lock servicing and troubleshooting, investigative forensics, and basic electricity and access control. You may not be able to take this class until you have completed most lower level courses.