Learn How to Become a Locksmith

Why Penn Foster?

  • Accredited
  • Self-Paced
  • Supportive
  • Low monthly payments

Program Overview

Develop your skills with the Penn Foster Professional Locksmithing Program and complete your program in as little as two months. With Penn Foster you train at home and at a pace that’s right for you. And, with an average annual salary of $37,560,* you’ll be starting a financially rewarding career.

In the Locksmith training program, you will learn everything from key making to electronic security. You’ll be able to work with any type of lock, including automobile locks, safes, and vaults. You’ll have everything you need to complete the program—including industry-recognized Kwikset® and Papaiz® learning aids, such as cutaway padlocks, door locks, and pinning kits.

Curriculum Details

Unit 1

Starting Your Program

Succeed by learning how to use your Penn Foster program.


  • Understand how to use your Student Portal, including your My Homepage and My Courses pages.
  • Access the Penn Foster Community and use it to find answers.
  • Connect with Penn Foster on various social media sites.
Locksmithing: An Expanding Career Field
  • Identify employment opportunities and the qualifications for professional locksmiths.
  • Describe the security industry.

Unit 2

Introduction to Locks and Keys
  • Describe the basic types of lock mechanisms.
  • Identify specialized tools used by locksmiths.
  • Outline typical locksmithing tasks.
Identifying Keys
  • Identify the basic types of keys and their parts.
  • Duplicate keys.
  • Find blank keys in a key catalog.
  • Compare an original key to a blank.
Practical Exercise

Identifying Keys

Lock Mechanisms
  • Understand the construction and operation of warded locks and padlocks.
  • Explain the operation of combination locks.
  • Describe lever locks, disk tumbler locks, and pin tumbler locks.
Additional Unit Materials

Supplement: Glossary of Locksmithing Terms

Learning Aids:

  • Assorted Key Blanks
  • Lever Tumbler Lock
  • Disk Tumbler Lock
  • Papaiz® Cutaway Padlock

Unit 3

Residential Locks
  • Understand the operation of mortise locks, rib locks, key-in-knob locks, and tubular deadbolts.
  • Describe the installation steps for key-in-knob locks, deadbolts, rim locks, and other door locks.
Keymaking and Rekeying
  • Outline key duplication by hand and by machine.
  • Duplicate cylinder keys, flat keys, and bit keys.
  • Explore rekeying locks.
Practical Exercises
  • Duplicating a Cylinder Key for the Papaiz® Padlock
  • Rekeying a Kwikset® Lock
Additional Unit Materials

Supplement: Using Tools Safely

Learning Aids:

  • Files
  • Bench Vise
  • Kwikset® Door Lock
  • Kwikset® Pinning Kit
  • Tweezers

Unit 4

Opening Locks Without Keys
  • Outline the various methods of opening locks without keys.
  • Impression keys.
Practical Exercises
  • Shimming Open and Rekeying the Mortise Cylinder
  • Impressioning a Key for a Mortise Cylinder
Home and Business Security
  • Describe security in retail and industrial settings.
  • Explain "target hardening" techniques.
  • Improve security in home and business settings.
  • Perform a security analysis.
Additional Unit Materials

Learning Aids:

  • Lockpicks
  • Tension wrench
  • Mortise cylinder
  • Shim stock
  • Screwdriver set

Unit 5

Automotive Locks
  • Describe basic auto lock mechanisms and electronic security devices for auto protection.
  • Outline how to replace lock cylinders in doors, ignitions, and trunks.
  • Troubleshoot and service auto lock cylinders.
Safes and Vaults
  • Understand combination lock theory.
  • Describe basic safe construction, maintenance ,and repair techniques.
  • Outline how to change safe combinations and make keys for safe deposit boxes.
Panic Hardware and Electric Locks
  • Install, troubleshoot, and repair panic hardware devices.
  • Understand and install electric locks.
Additional Unit Material

Learning Aid: Master Combination Padlock

Unit 6

Electronic Security Systems
  • Describe the basic types of alarm systems and alarm components.
  • Design, program, troubleshoot, and repair an alarm system.
Starting a Small Business
  • Create a business plan.
  • Obtain capital, insurance, permits, and licenses.
  • Find a location and set up your shop.
  • Purchase office equipment and supplies.
Working as a Professional Locksmith
  • Determine what services to offer and what to charge.
  • Evaluate your competition and advertise your services.
  • Describe legal issues and locksmithing ethics.
Additional Unit Material

Supplement: Starting Your Own Mobile Business

Computer Specifications
You will need high-speed internet access to begin your program. You will need access to a Microsoft® Windows® based computer running Windows XP® or later or an Apple® Mac® computer running OS X® or later, and an email account to complete your program with Penn Foster.

We reserve the right to change program content and materials when it becomes necessary.
Microsoft, Windows, and Windows XP are trademarks of Microsoft Corporation registered in the United States of America and/or other jurisdictions.
Apple, Mac, and OS X are trademarks of Apple, Inc registered in the United States of America and/or other jurisdictions.

Sample Lesson

To view a Locksmith sample lesson, click here.

Become a Locksmith: Program Details

Penn Foster Career School will help you learn how to become a locksmith and gain the skills you need:

  • Duplicate keys by hand and machine
  • Installation, troubleshooting, and maintenance for door locks, auto locks and security devices, safes and vaults, and panic hardware
  • Methods of opening locks without keys
  • Electronic security and how to design and program an alarm system

Professional Locksmith Requirements

Requirements may vary for Locksmith professionals based on location. Penn Foster recommends you check with the appropriate agency in your area for specific requirements.

Locksmiths install locks and security systems in homes, businesses, cars, safes, and vaults. Penn Foster offers expert training for you to pursue a new career as a locksmith. Here are a few qualities that effective locksmiths have in common:

  • Detail oriented: It’s important to have a sharp eye and check things twice.
  • Problem solver: Finding the missing piece can be challenging and rewarding.
  • Persistent: You work until the job is done, and done well.
  • Honest: You are ethical in your work for customers.

I would rate Penn Foster ten stars [out of ten]—if you’re on a budget, it’s the best school to work around your schedule. The practical exercises have you making a lot by hand, and they were very challenging. Give it a shot—you won’t regret it. I guarantee it.

- Steve A., Professional Locksmithing Graduate

The Penn Foster Professional Locksmithing Program has made it possible for me to start working on setting up my own business as a locksmith and security systems installer. To anyone thinking about enrolling in the Professional Locksmithing Program or any other programs offered by Penn Foster... just do it because it is a big bonus in life.

- Russell U., Professional Locksmithing Graduate

This program has greatly increased my skill level as a Locksmith. I can do much more now. The program was great. It has made me a much better Locksmith.

- Paul W., Professional Locksmithing Graduate

We make sure you have everything you need:

  • Graduate debt free with 0% interest
  • Books, learning aids, tools, and Kwikset® and Papaiz® locks included
  • Study Planner App to customize your study plans and keep track of your progress
  • Instructional support from our world-class faculty
  • Access 24/7 to Penn Foster’s online campus, plus immediate membership in the Locksmith academic group
  • Your personalized online student homepage and learning portal
  • Additional resources such as our online library and career guidance from Career Cruising

Does Penn Foster provide Locksmith students with any hands-on materials?

Yes, as locksmith students progress through their courses they will receive a variety of tools and materials, including Kwikset® and Papaiz® products, for use during their studies and in their career.

More FAQs >

* Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Employment and Wages, May 2012, click here.

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