As a trade, institutional locksmithing is in its infancy. The first persons that started the trade have recently retired or are thinking about it. Most of these persons are part of the “Baby Boom,” resulting in more vacancies created and not enough persons to fill them. There aren't enough qualified locksmiths to fill all the available positions.
Employers are also finding it difficult to get locksmiths to apply for the vacancies; as the wages are insufficient. Trade locksmith positions have not kept up as other trades have as their outside union support is weak. Consider that electricians, carpenters, and plumbers have strong union representation outside of the employer. Employee wages usually are relative to prevailing union wages.
Currently employers are in a predicament as wages offered do not entice locksmiths to apply for jobs. Their only recourse is to raise wages. This is another incentive for locksmiths to make the move to institutional careers.
ADVANTAGES OF INSTITUTIONAL LOCKSMITHING
Locksmiths who want to become institutional locksmiths should choose their future employer carefully. Because of an abundance of vacancies, locksmiths should choose an employer offering a comprehensive package of benefits.
Institutional work is predictable, consistent, and safe.
Important benefits are: medical, dental, and vision plans; retirement and pension programs; 401k thrift savings and deferred compensation plans; life insurance; long-term disability insurance; and time off with pay. Medical, dental, and vision plans can vary significantly. Good plans have the employer paying most of the expense with the employee pay a modest amount and small co-pays.
By the nature of institutional locksmithing, the employee plans to stay until retirement. The employer should offer retirement and pension programs that allow the employee to retire without financial difficulty. Great plans offer medical coverage (with modest monthly fees) while being retired.
There are many employers that offer savings plans and will contribute portions to it. With the right employer, locksmiths can enjoy all the major holidays, vacation, and sick time.
Institutional locksmiths have regular hours. Assignments can be planned with predictable results. There is less emergency work and more work that improves the employer's process.
Institutional locksmiths are required to follow all safety guidelines and requirements. The employer is required to issue personal safety equipment and gear. Areas are made safe before locksmiths begin their work. Wage-earning locksmiths are more likely to work safer than their street counter-parts where the time it takes to do a job is a priority.
Employers are generally looking for “journeyman” level experience when hiring a locksmith. This means one who has fully served an apprenticeship in a trade or craft and is a qualified worker in another's employ. Certifications from associations and acknowledged locksmith schools help verify this experience level.
Usually employers will state how much experience is necessary to meet a minimum qualification. Often this is how long the locksmith has worked for others. Employers will offer a job description as to what they believe a locksmith should be capable of doing.
Here is a typical job description relating to institutional locksmith: “Installs, maintains and repairs lock systems and related equipment; installs all types of locks and lock hardware and performs the carpentry or metal-working necessary for such installation; adjusts, maintains, repairs, and replaces door locks, padlocks, tumbler locks, and various other lock hardware such as panic bars, door checks, latches, catches, fasteners, and door closers; establishes and maintains master key systems; opens locks which cannot be opened by ordinary means; operates machine tools such as key-cutting machine, drill press, grinder, hand drill, electric drill, and electrical hammer to duplicate keys and change locks; selects key blanks, cuts keys, and fits keys to locks; issues keys and locks and keeps related records; responsible for maintaining, supporting, and promoting a safe work environment while complying with all of safety rules, policies, and procedures; and performs other related duties.”
Specific security concerns are controlled access to specialized areas, supply rooms and medical carts, especially to control the access to medications, drugs, syringes, and needles.
We interview a government locksmith responsible for 15,000 doors. This past year, his four-person staff handled over 800 calls for service, installing or servicing 50 to 100 locks each month
Transit authority locksmiths primarily establish and maintain master key systems while issuing keys and keeping related records.
Effective policies and procedures are the basis for proper key management.