How Do Locksmiths Become Master Locksmiths?

We’ve talked a lot before about how all locksmiths aren’t built the same. While there are no official qualifications to become a locksmith, there are a few ways you can learn the trade, along with some organisations you can join to prove that you’re trustworthy and talented. One of those is to join the Master Locksmiths Association.

Unlike a lot of other industry associations, this one isn’t as easy to join as just paying a membership fee. Instead, you have to study, take exams and pass before you can call yourself a Master Locksmith and show their logo on your website. And to prove to you just how much it takes to become Master Locksmith certified, here’s a glimpse into what it takes to become a member – from a company that’s already done it.

The Exams

Any locksmith can apply to take the Master Locksmiths Association exam. All they have to do is pay the exam fee, and pass 4 modules. These modules are designed to test the knowledge, skills and ingenuity of a locksmith, to make sure they can live up to the standards of the organisation. You can take these modules one at a time, or all at once, depending on your preference, but every MLA approved locksmith has taken and passed them.

Written Exam: The starting point is a written exam. It’s made up of 50 questions that are a mix of short answers, multiple choice and essay style answers. Some will also requires sketches to go along with your answers. The questions cover a broad spectrum of locksmithing skills and knowledge, including safes, access control and lever & pin tumbler mechanisms. You’re given one hour to complete it, and it has to be done at regional meetings. This section of the qualification is actually where most locksmiths will trip up.

Practical Exams: On top of the written test, there are three separate practical exams you have to take. These are designed to test your abilities in a range of areas, and include;

  • Opening a British Standard 5 Lever Mortice Lock at a workstation. The lock chosen will be in common use, and can be opened by either manipulation or drilling. If you choose to drill it (which as we say is the easy way out), then you can only use 1 hole up to 8mm or 2 holes up to 6mm. If you end up drilling more holes or the holes are too big, it’s an automatic failure. Points are awarded here for the correct identification of the lock and the level of skill demonstrated in opening it. You’re allowed 45 minutes for this section.
  • Fitting a Euro Mortice Deadlock to a door. You have to fit a Euro Cylinder Operated Deadlock, complete with security escutcheons and box striker to a door within a workshop at the exam centre. Once you’ve installed it, it will be examined. They’re looking for a high level of skill, and it’s designed to test your carpentry skills, so lock fitting jigs are not allowed. You get an hour and a half for this section.
  • Cutting a stepped key. The final test is to cut a stepped lever key by hand. This is a test of bench tools, and so you’re not allowed to use any machines to complete this test. Even tools to help you read the depth of steps and levers aren’t allowed – just a basic set of callipers. You’re given a lock and basic tools, and asked to make a key for it. Your finished key has to be able to work with the original key on completion, and has to be an accurate reproduction of the manufacturer’s original.

So yes, just a small amount of work, but going through it all and passing each module means you will be a fully certified member of the Master Locksmiths Association.

Why Use A MLA Approved Locksmith?

When you need to call a locksmith, it’s rarely an ideal time. Sure, there are some cases when it’s planned – like moving house or getting nee keys cut. But often it’s an emergency, when you’re stuck outside in your socks and cursing that auto-locking door. At that point, hiring a locksmith that’s been approved by the Master Locksmiths Association has a few benefits:

They meet the industry standard – Every industry has standards it’s members should meet, and locksmiths are no exception. The MLA requires a level of skill and experience for membership, and members have to commit to ongoing training and inspections as part of their membership.

You know they’re legit – Locksmiths are people you need to be able to trust. They help you access your home, car, business and more, and install security measures designed to keep you safe. But because there is no legislation to govern the practice, rogue traders are a real problem. That’s one of the reasons the MLA was created – to prove legitimacy.

They will be CRB checked and insured – Criminal checks and adequate insurance are both pre-requisites for membership to the MLA, and are checked regularly, so you know you’re in safe hands.

Your information will be safe – All members of the MLA have to meet strict codes of conduct and keep your information safe. For example, they may need to see some ID to grant access to a property, or open a safe full of sensitive data. An MLA approved locksmith will never record any kind of sensitive personal information, whereas a non-member could, and could use it however they wished.

They will likely save you money – There are plenty of individuals out there who offer locksmith services, when actually all they do is come to your house and drill your entire lock out. While this will get you into your property, it also means you can‘t secure it again, and will have to pay for a whole new lock to be installed as well. With an MLA locksmith, you know they have the skill to do the job with minimal to no damage, so you spend less.

In other words, it means you’re getting the best of the best – and you ask for better than that!

At My Locks Locksmiths we pride ourselves on being fully fledged members of the Master Locksmiths Association, which means each and every one of our locksmiths are fully vetted and trained. It adds to our collection of other industry certifications, all of which say the same thing. You can trust us to do what’s right by you and your locks, and we have the badges to prove it! If you’d like to know more, just get in touch with the team today.