Institutional Locksmithing: Ready When You Are

The more commercial experience that a locksmith can glean, the better chances of qualifying for a government or institutional locksmith position. Usually an employer is not interested in residential or car-opening experience. Safe and vault work is a...


Usually a representative from Human Resources will review applications for minimum requirements and qualifications. Requirements might be associated with location, valid driver's license, and no criminal record. Qualifications relate to work experience and education (for locksmiths usually graduation from high school).

Written examinations are given to qualify a person's general knowledge of locksmithing and specific knowledge of those things that are of interest to the employer (i.e. for a hospital questions pertaining to HIPAA or JCAHO). Usually these examinations are graded and scored.

Expect to see questions relating to: ADA requirements; fire and life safety codes; handing of doors; combination of interchangeable cores; master keying; and function of locksets.

Those who pass the written will be allowed to participate in a performance test. In general performance test are designed to monitor the applicant's ability to apply locksmith technique relating to: installation; replacement; and repair.

Applicants may be asked to install a deadbolt from scratch. A proctor will observe: the compliance with the installation instructions furnished by the manufacturer; that the applicant performs the installation safely; and that the installation is performed in a timely manner.

Applicants may be asked to rekey cylinders or recombinate cores. Locks and padlocks may be provided that need to be picked open in a timely manner. The applicant may be asked to impression keys or cut keys by code.

Sometimes included in the performance test is adjustment of door closers. Proctors observe that the locksmith is familiar with all the different controls that are provided with the door closer including: power adjustment; sweep speed; latch speed; back check; and delay.

Performance tests are graded and scored. Applicants are rated by an aggregate score and in that order may be asked to an appraisal interview.

It is common that the appraisal interview takes place in front of two or more persons. During the interview the applicant will be asked situational questions and asked how the applicant would react in that situation. Questions are posed relating to the applicant's ability to perform or work experiences. Usually the applicant is allowed to make a statement at the end of the appraisal interview.

Those applicants that pass the appraisal interview undergo a background check. This check varies depending on the security nature of the job or the culture of the employer. Most employers will check: the driving record, credit history, arrest records, work history, places of residence, references and referrals.

After an applicant has been selected, and accepts the job, the final step is to qualify the applicant physically. A basic physical is done and in most cases a pre-employment drug test is performed.

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