by Chad Tibbets, Training Specialist - ASSA ABLOY Academy
The locksmith profession is one of the oldest in the world. It’s also among the most vital in the security industry. Who hasn’t lost a key or been locked out somewhere and needed to hire one? While rekeying and replacing locks is a very important function and what the public is likely most familiar with, the trade extends far beyond that. In fact, it can be quite complex, and there’s always something new to learn.
Consider all the brands, styles, new advancements, electronic technology and building codes as well as the critical installation steps to get the job done right. Latches have to line up perfectly with door strikes, deadbolts need to engage fully, levers and pulls must be supplied and mounted properly for right- or left-handed reach, and door closers need careful adjustment to operate smoothly, avoid slamming, and prevent injuries. And that’s just scratching the surface.
Becoming a proficient, successful locksmith requires aptitude, intensive on-the-job experience, a commitment to excellence, and ongoing training. It’s a great career if you like to work with your hands and problem solve using your innate creativity and logic. The role is challenging, interesting and rewarding with plenty of room for growth. Because many locksmith companies are short-staffed today, opportunity abounds. Whether you’re looking to enter the field or already established and want to hone your expertise, training from ASSA ABLOY Academy is what will set you apart in this valuable profession.
Dedicated to Quality Training
For me, the locksmith and physical security profession fits right in with my passion for working with cool gizmos. I’ve been proud to be part of the industry for 16 years and a training specialist at ASSA ABLOY Academy for six of those. I thoroughly enjoy helping locksmith professionals learn the technical and beneficial aspects of the hardware and instilling the high importance of proper installation. I also like the discovery process, digging into your locksmith priorities, and developing a custom training plan that will meet your needs and make the best use of your time.
My experience in the field and as a trainer makes it easy for me to recognize a quality door hardware installation when I see one. I can also spot a bad one in no time. It’s disappointing and sometimes shocking when it’s obvious an installer took shortcuts or apparently lacked the knowledge, experience, or concern to do the job right. On the bright side, I take comfort in knowing that the key to locksmith success stems from good training and continuing education.
Cutting Corners Can Cut into Your Future Business
A couple of cautionary tales come to mind that illustrate why locksmith training is necessary and should be taken seriously. I was staying at a hotel recently where my room’s deadbolt wouldn’t throw. It was evident it was completely out of alignment and never worked from the start. I could see they used the wrong plate on the door frame. They likely put the lock on, shut the door, flipped the deadbolt, saw it move about a quarter turn, assumed it slipped into the frame, then called it good. A break-in would have been a cinch.
Another time at another hotel, I quickly discovered I could easily slide my hand into the gap between the door and frame and fiddle with the latch. I changed hotels. Along with sloppy installation, this was a prime example of inspection/quality control shortcomings and a lack of proper code adherence and enforcement – important things that comprehensive locksmith training can help solve.
One more: During a mobile training session, a major university end-user approached me to complain about a company they hired to install exit devices that were now loosening and falling off doors. It turned out the installers thought it would be quicker to use their own self-tapping screws instead of the appropriate factory-supplied ones and following directions that came with the hardware. Not only did that compromise safety but it also compromised the installer’s reputation, incurred replacement costs, and risked potential exposure to liability claims.
Unfortunately, there are more stories that are even more disturbing that I could share. My point is that none of those scenarios should ever be the case with you or your team – not if you’re committed to high standards and staying current with training.
ASSA ABLOY Academy: Hundreds of Training Opportunities
If you’ve perused the rich selection and schedule of courses on the ASSA ABLOY Academy website you might wonder where to start if you’re new to the locksmith trade or where to jump in if you’re a seasoned pro looking to expand your knowledge in door opening solutions. Luckily, we can help guide you based on your current level of experience. The Academy can also recommend the best courses for a specific type of hardware installation when you need more help for an upcoming project.
Browse the training classes on the Academy site by subject, brand, or profession and you’ll get a good sense of all that’s available for each audience. Classes include broad, multi-day sessions like “Essentials of Door Hardware,” and shorter instructor-led or online classes on specific products. We’ve also developed suggested learning paths targeted for specific job functions to make sure your crew gets the most out of our programs. We’ll be glad to consult with you as well to tailor the training curriculum to fit your most pressing needs.
Ultimately, the level of training that ASSA ABLOY Academy can offer is variably proportional to the amount of technical ability that a locksmith currently has and wants to work toward.
You may be a locksmith company fortunate to be filling positions with great new candidates who fit your culture and are eager and willing to learn. While their enthusiasm may be refreshing, you know you can’t just send beginners out on a truck and wish for the best. It takes budget and time for training and a few months in the field to get them up to speed before they can start generating revenue. The question becomes “how can I get them onboarded as quickly as possible?”
ASSA ABLOY has several ways to ramp up locksmith training, including over 25 online courses and more than 90 electives. For instance, online and in-person courses on the essentials help new hires identify hardware so they can use terminology intelligently while learning on the job. YouTube videos are also available that provide quick and helpful instructions and tips for installers at all levels, whether you’re just starting or well on your way.
Instructor-led training (ILT) courses pack in-depth product and installation information into one- or two-day sessions, complete with plenty of practical hands-on time. We also have our Mobile Installation Training (MIT) vehicle back on the road if you want to book a stop in your neck of the woods for door and hardware hands-on classes.
Whether learning online or at an ILT event, most sessions are free (except for travel and meal costs when applicable). To enroll, simply signup on the Academy login page.
We’re also working on a new three-tier intensive locksmith training course that will roll out soon. While it will involve a multiple-day time commitment and some travel expenditures, it’s designed to deliver a solid return on investment with a payoff in accelerated onboarding and recruitment benefits for companies interested in expanding their workforce.
Don’t ignore codes; they’re critical. Along with following installation steps to the tee, it’s very important to understand codes and adhere to them. We include those discussions in our training. As I noted in my earlier example, shortcuts and omissions can be costly to safety, security, and the bottom line.
Be aware that locksmith professionals seeking to advance their careers are moving to more progressive companies that value training and new technology. There’s also a growing trend among general contractors who would prefer a single locksmith resource that can do it all over parsing out the various phases to different specialists. Proactive locksmith companies looking to jump on that bandwagon are taking steps to add to their door hardware services including the installation of doors and door frames and access control integration.
A lot has changed over the past 10+ years in door security. If you’re a locksmith company that wants to continue to thrive and grow in this profession, you and your team need to stay a step ahead with the latest innovations, requirements and training. ASSA ABLOY Academy will help get you there.