Who hasn’t needed the services of a locksmith at some point? And often it’s at the most inconvenient time. It’s good that locksmith prices are fairly reasonable and a locksmith is usually available to help you, even on holidays or at odd hours.
When we’re locked out of our homes or our cars, one of our first thoughts is to call a locksmith for help. When they arrive, they generally work expeditiously and before long, our problem is solved.
But helping us with emergency lock-outs isn’t nearly all locksmiths do. We’ll discuss the various service locksmiths offer and what comprises locksmith rates.
Basic Locksmith Services
Before discussing what locksmiths charge for their services, we need to look at the different types of services they provide. There are probably more than you realize!
Let’s begin with some of the more common services and go from there. The following are services available from virtually any locksmith.
Someone Is Locked Out of Their House
Who hasn’t been through this experience? You have doors that lock automatically when you pull them shut. And perhaps you thought you’d leave through the last one once you’d grabbed your keys. After all, the house key and the car key are on the same key ring.
Of course, this means that not only can you not get back into your house, you also can’t go anywhere in your car either. Although your neighbors don’t have spare keys to your house, they do have a phone you can use. So you call a locksmith.
Someone Is Locked Out of Their Vehicle
Some recent car models have ways of preventing owners from locking the keys inside the car, so this happens less frequently than it once did.
But what if you left your car keys (probably along with all your other keys) at a restaurant or store that’s now closed? Or what if (unfortunately) you accidentally dropped your keys through a sewer grate or off a bridge?
Someone Needs to Change the Locks on Their House
Most new homeowners have all the entry locks replaced as soon as they move in. And if they don’t, they should. There are a lot of reasons to do this, such as:
- The old owners gave copies of their house keys to far too many neighbors and other people, and now one of them wants to look around inside—maybe help themselves to something.
- You’ll just feel more secure knowing the locks have been professionally replaced or re-keyed. You’ll know exactly who all has keys to your home.
Of course, it’s a good idea to have your house locks re-keyed periodically—especially if you’ve lent copies to various repair people, pet sitters, and so on.
Depending on the company profile, size, and scope, there are various other services available from today’s locksmiths as well. This is especially as it relates to new technologies.
Roadside Assistance Services
These can include basic services such as:
- Jump starts
- Tire changes
- Gas delivery
- Basic repairs
As with other roadside assistance services such as automotive clubs, once you have components and materials for one job already on the truck, you can accommodate other, related ones as well.
Keypad Locks, Biometric Locks, and Other Newer Locking Devices
As locking devices become more and more sophisticated, the more highly trained service technicians need to be. Larger locksmith businesses might be better able to afford instructional costs.
They might also be able to give over more employee time for learning how to install and maintain the newer entry devices.
Keypad Locking Systems
These have come down in price and are widely available in home repair stores. The learning curve has flattened as well, and now most come with DIY instructions.
Of course, we recommend having the installation done professionally, though.
Biometric Locking Systems
Today, the most common types of biometric devices use fingerprint sensors. However, the very near future promises more widespread use of face or eye recognition technologies.
There are many ways to recognize someone by bodily attributes or styles of movement, and we’re likely to be seeing these as part of the home and workplace security fairly soon as well.
Door Installation, Replacement, and Repair
Locksmiths know their way around doors. So it’s not surprising that some of them now offer door installation, repair, and replacement services. This is handy to know since they could replace a door and its lock in one visit.
Garage Door Repair, Installation, and Locks
It also makes sense that locksmiths are in the business of installing, servicing, and replacing garage doors. And, like house doors, they would be able to install garage door locks at the same time.
While a term like “access control” could literally apply to just about anything a locksmith does, here it is used to refer to technology that’s able to limit access to all or parts of public and private properties.
Means of entry range from smart cards to palm scanning to retinal scanning. And these systems have features such as timed locking, remote operation, and custom access privileges.
Smart Homes, Home Automation, and Other Digital Innovations
This is where “the rubber meets the road” for the average homeowner—in terms of convenience, security, and energy savings. We should take these seriously and make every effort to stay apprised of what’s up and coming.
Locksmiths’ focus, of course, is on the security aspects. But there is a lot about a smart home that relates to security. Here are some examples of what locksmiths work with:
- Window Sensors
- Lighting Control
- Smoke & Carbon Monoxide Detectors
- Water Sensors
- Doorbell Cameras
- Smart Locking systems
- Smart Thermostats
- Garage Door Control
These are residential services. Locksmiths also offer similar services for commercial entities.
What About Opening Safes?
Although the jobs overlap somewhat, there are important distinctions between traditional (“key”) locksmiths and safe and vault specialists.
Key locksmiths may or may not be able to open your safe. The job is far more within the purview of the safe and vault specialists.
Only some locksmith businesses employ safe and vault specialists, though. If you need one of them, you can ask for referrals from a key locksmith or search for one yourself.
Remember, a locksmith’s training, talents, and professional development are part of the services you pay for. So, what kinds of training or licensing are required? Do you need some sort of degree or certification?
The minimum amount of education required to become a locksmith is a high school diploma. Many aspiring locksmiths opt for further training, though. There are two ways to do this, either coursework or an apprenticeship.
Except for a few technical colleges, the practice of locksmithing isn’t taught as much at traditional colleges as it is at independent colleges, ones often started and run by locksmiths themselves. Some offer online or correspondence programs while others are site-based.
Locksmith credentialing varies from state to state. But the national locksmithing trade association, Associated Locksmiths of America (ALOA) offers voluntary certifications. These are considered worthwhile by those in the industry.
Apprenticeships offer different types of training for locksmiths, and they are fairly common. There are quite a few locksmith apprenticeships available at any given time and they’re treated as regular jobs for pay.
Whichever option a beginning locksmith chooses, they must be sure it meets any state certification requirements.
A Typical Workday for a Locksmith
Locksmiths are busy people—there is no doubt! But what exactly keeps them so busy? And what do they do on typical service calls? Finding out these things will help you understand what all goes into locksmith rates.
Where and How Locksmiths Spend Their Work Time
A locksmith’s day begins early and often ends late. Some locksmith businesses serve customers 24/7. Many locksmiths alternate between staffing the office and being out on calls. Some even run their businesses from their service vans.
A Typical Service Call
A family goes on vacation, leaving their pets in the care of a sitter. When they reach their destination, though, they get a text from the sitter saying the house key wasn’t in its usual place.
The dad finds the key in his pocket—250 miles from where it’s needed! So the mom looks up the names and some reviews of locksmiths near where they live and calls one.
The locksmith arrives a short time later, speaks with the sitter, and checks her ID. The sitter chats with the mom, who tells her where to find an extra key. The locksmith unlocks the door and leaves—sending a bill later.
Another Typical Service Call
A locksmith starts her day very early so she can get to a high school before students and teachers arrive. Apparently, there’s been a glitch in the ID card scanner and it isn’t working.
She arrives and finds evidence of minor tampering with the scanning device, fixes it, and later alerts the principal that this has happened. She leaves and bills the school district for her work.
If these situations sound mundane, it’s because they are. But episodes like these comprise most of a typical locksmith’s day. It’s how they earn their living.
Locksmith Prices for Basic Services
First, we should say that a typical locksmith earns between $24,000-66,000 annually, more if they own the shop. The average locksmith salary is around $41,500.
Average service prices compiled from different referral sites give a pretty good picture of price ranges for the most common locksmith services. We’ll discuss costs for less typical services below.
The cost for a basic service call runs between $95-300. It depends on the distance traveled, time spent on the project, supplies needed, and overall difficulty of the project. A surcharge is usually added for after-hours service.
Expect this simple job to cost between $100-300. This is based on the typical service call charge. Variations might be in distance traveled or any complications (e.g., getting through a locked screen door to reach the main door lock).
This job is also a simple one. The charge is often similar to that of the one to unlock a house. Variations in this case, though, might include the type of key and locking system used by the car in question.
Home Lock Re-keying
The cost of this project will vary for a few reasons. First, it will depend on how much hardware is needed and what it costs. The average cost per lock is $20-50.
Second, it will depend on how many locks need to be re-keyed and how long the entire project takes. And finally, as above, it will depend on the distance the locksmith needs to travel.
Given the variation among key types and car-entry systems, this fix could cost between $50-300 plus travel. And if it ends up taking more than an hour (as might be the case with a keyless entry system) you’ll be charged for more time.
Locksmith Prices for Additional Services
Most of the additional services locksmiths offer are new to their profession. We must turn to the professions more commonly associated with the services for pricing estimates.
This is because, with some of their newer services, like garage door installation and repair, locksmiths compete outside the bounds of their industry. Instead, they’re working in an industry with its own, longstanding business practices.
The installed cost for a two-car garage door averages $800-1,500 when working with a garage door specialist. Would a locksmith adhere to this rate structure or compete with it?
To raise another question: installing a smart home system runs from $290-1,563 with a national average cost of just under $1,000. But, with a focus on security, would a locksmith even set the system up in the same way as other installers?
All Locked and Ready to Go
We’ll conclude by stating what we’ve observed researching and writing this article: that locksmith prices, like those in most unregulated service industries, can vary a great deal.
We also have noted that locksmith prices are fairly consistent among their core services of door-unlocking, re-keying, and lock replacement.
Many locksmiths don’t perform the newer and tangentially-related services and those that don’t publish their prices. So it’s hard to make comparisons without asking for actual estimates from both locksmiths and traditional installers.
Locksmiths are capable and reliable in the areas where they’ve carved out a niche over time. For their newer service lines, we’ll need to wait and see how they fare when competing with others more established in those industries.
For our part, we are a large, multi-state company that specializes in basic locksmith work as well as newer niches that connect to it. We have the scale and the know-how to do this. If you’d like to try out our services, just let us know.
We’ll be waiting to hear from you!