Date: Wed, 27 May 1998 05:39:14 EDT
Subject: Re: Training
Locksmithing is traditionally a hard trade to get your foot in the door with. You need three things to get going. The rest is all accumulation. They are:
It takes time to learn the basic fundementals and terminology. Take the time to learn and do it right. Don't get overly anxious and don't expect overnight success. We have enough fly-by-nighters who read one book then hit the streets thinking they know it all. The overall best thing to do is to grab a locksmith by the shirt tail and be the biggest pest until he gives you something to do. Then go from there. Ask for a job in his or her shop doing really basic stuff, like being a handyman or counter person. Take on little tasks and build from there. It's pretty hard to get a job in a shop without experience, but your persistency and sincerety will sometimes crack through that hard outer shell. This is an excluseive club for which you seek membership. You must be determined to be a member before you will be accepted. Sure, you can learn and develop yourself into being a locksmith all on your own, but believe me - you will need friends on the inside starting from day one and on thoughout your career as a locksmith.
Starting from scratch, it can be a tremendous financial strain to get the equipment you need. It ain't cheap. On the other hand, I started out with only a pippin file and about $20.00 worth of Ford key blanks, but then I had another job at the time. Concentrate primarily on what you need to keep on hand - certain key blanks, key originating machine, key duplicator, manuals, etc. Hardware (until you grow a little bit and can keep it in stock) can be purchased as needed from your local locksmith supplier. Get to know your supplier, and if your credit isn't that great (like mine), then at least open a cash sale account with him. That will allow you wholesale rate and in most cases put you on their mailing list for bargains and manufacturer training seminars. Keep your day job if your means are tight, and get what you can, as you can. Every tool you get should be a matter of priority. For instance, if you primarily make car keys, then I would invest in a code cutting machine before I would invest in a drill rig for safes. The code cutter will allow me to make more money faster, and then I can afford more equipment to help me expand my skills a little more, then make even more money faster, and buy more equipment to do more things and so on. Remember, your tools and your abilities make you a locksmith - not the title at the bottom of your business card.
3. EDUCATION, EDUCATION, EDUCATION
You will never stop learning new ways, new things, or even old ways and old things. Many locksmiths (like I said, you need friends) when they run into each other at the wholesale house, or association meetings, or other places often share tricks and ideas (like a bull session) and show off their new "toys" and tell "war" stories. I get so much knowledge this way. However, the best way to start out will be to take a correspondence course. Foley Belsaw, and pCDI are the two that immediately come to mind. This will introduce you to the basics and terminology, and you can learn at your own pace. Both of these (and others as well) offer a code cutting machine with the course and are good to have when just starting out. Make the money and buy better later, work on your abilities first. Join your local locksmith's association. Most associations are based on training and education. Many will also accept you if you are not yet a locksmith, but are engaged in recognized locksmith training, and are sponsored by a member of the association who knows you (see, you need friends).
Get in on anything locksmith that you hear about. There are traveling trade shows where manufacturers and suppliers get together for a big hoohaa where they show off and sell their goods. They even have raffles for equipment and tools. Go in, look around, see what there is and learn what you are up against. Also, get all the trade magazines. You'll discover why as you read them.
Your training will never stop. Don't let it. If there is something in particular you're good at, learn all there is to know about it. Then learn about related things and so on. Just remember that no matter how much you learn about something, there's always something else to learn about it.
Many states require that you obtain a locksmith license to obtain, posess, and use locksmithing equipment. You will have to check the laws in your state and community regarding this issue.
Most of all, always remember that the equipment you acquire and the information you learn is HIGHLY SENSITIVE security material, no matter how trivial it may seem to you. Locksmithing information and materials in the wrong hands can and usually does have catastrophic results. Hopefully, someday all this will make sense to you.
Well, this is certainly the longest email I have ever written. :>
I hope all this helps you out a little bit. If you need anything else, my resources are pretty good, so feel free to drop me an e-note at email@example.com.
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