How to become a Locksmith in Alberta, and How to choose which company to work for.
If you want to become a locksmith, the first thing you need to do is find a company that is willing to apprentice you. In Alberta it is illegal to work in the locksmith trade unless you are a Journeyman or Apprentice to a Journeyman. The Certified Journeyman Locksmith (CJL) designation takes four years to complete.
Which company you work for is extremely important. Different companies (even in the same trade) offer really different things. I would strongly recommend (if you can) job shadowing a company to see how they operate. Here are a couple of things you want to pay careful attention to.
1. Are the employees and managers/owners happy?
This is perhaps the single most important aspect of which company you choose to apprentice for. You are going to spend 8 hours a day with your work mates and you will become like them, so don’t choose lightly. It is hard to tell if someone is generally happy in a short time, so try to spend a couple of hours over a few different days (maybe at different times of the day). Ask people if they like their jobs. Ask about the managers and owners.
2. Try to get a feel for training practices or programs.
Very few locksmith companies have detailed training programs. Most are learn as you go. Investing time to train people is very expensive, but as an apprentice you will advance much faster if you have a skilled journeyman who is willing to spend time training you. Ask the employees what their experiences are with training and being trained. Does the company pay for additional classes? Will they pay for your trade schooling?
3. Find out exactly what your compensation package will be.
It will make your life much easier going forward if you know what your wage expectations are. Find out what the wage range is for First year, Second year, Third year, and Journeyman. Don’t assume you will get a raise when you graduate years. Ask about benefit packages (health benefits). Lots of smaller companies don’t have any benefits (an important consideration). Write down on paper what each company offers so you can compare and keep a record what you were offered.
4. Find out which technical areas the company specializes in or has expertise in.
Locksmithing is an extremely diverse and technical trade. Most companies specialize in a few areas (even if they say otherwise). Residential, Commercial, Automotive, Access Control, Safes and Vaults are all very different areas of locksmithing. Nearly every locksmith company does Residential and general Commercial service work, but many will exclude Automotive, Safes and Vaults, or Access Control (or offer only the most basic services).
You very well may want to work for a few different companies to get experience in different specialized areas.
Do these four things and you will have a much stronger chance at both choosing a great company to work for and getting the most out of your apprenticeship.
If you have any questions about how to become a locksmith or how to choose a good company to apprentice for, shoot me an email.
Curtis Taitinger, CJL, B.Com.
http://tradesecrets.alberta.ca/trades-occupations/profiles/050/ (Duties and qualification of a locksmith)
http://occinfo.alis.alberta.ca/occinfopreview/info/browse-occupations/occupation-profile.html?id=71003092 (Wage expectations, and general info)
http://www.plaa.org/ (the Professional Locksmiths Association of Alberta) (contains a list of companies you might want to work for in your area)