The evolution of the door lock has accelerated exponentially, especially since the start of the 21st century. So have the roles, requirements, and opportunities for today’s locksmiths, who we now more aptly call security professionals.
While there still may be emergency calls to help someone who has locked themselves out of their home or car, the trade is primarily about commercial applications today, and extends to electro-mechanical components, intelligent locks and keys, electronic access control (EAC) solutions and beyond.
As the industry continues to identify what needs to be secured, access control technologies are no longer limited to perimeter and interior rooms in buildings. They can be applied to unmanned traffic control cabinets, server cabinets, delivery lockers, and more. Many locksmith security professionals today are also more involved with integrating cameras, alarms, and other advanced security systems.
Consequently, there’s a lot more to know and always something new to learn, which keeps the profession interesting and fresh, and generates more opportunities. Consider the breadth of brands, decorative styles, locking devices, door openers, and wired, wireless and Wi-Fi EAC technologies that we offer at ASSA ABLOY Door Security Solutions, for example. And then, there are all the critical building codes and detailed installation steps required to ensure projects are properly executed and compliant.
Becoming a proficient, successful locksmith security professional takes intensive on-the-job experience, a commitment to excellence, and ongoing training. My colleague Tom Hightman at our The Medeco Service Center (MSC) program emphasizes this point.
“For those who like to work with their hands, problem solve with their innate creativity and logic, and have an aptitude for all things mechanical and electronic, it can be a very rewarding, stable career that offers a respectable living and plenty of room for growth. It’s also a vocation in high demand,” he says.
Short-staffed locksmith companies, systems integrators, and facilities departments are all looking for new talent to tackle the growing number of projects and advanced security solutions coming online. At the same time, seasoned experts are starting to retire across many trades, including the locksmith profession.
Along with the need to find candidates to replace them, there’s the realization that veteran locksmith security professionals may be leaving with a wealth of institutional knowledge and a facility’s door asset inventory stored in their heads.
Attracting, recruiting, and onboarding talent are among the challenges the industry faces. “The good news is that progress is being made thanks to the expanding number of resources that a forward-looking company like ASSA ABLOY provides to support training, certification, and business development,” says Hightman.
Also available are software solutions like SimpleK and Openings Studioâ that can capture, tag, and track all the openings components installed in a facility. Along with the data that makes it easier to maintain openings, replace parts, and specify solutions for future building expansions, the programs help continually build a digital brain trust that can live on long after a key team member heads out the retirement door.
ASSA ABLOY Academy
Whether someone is making a fresh start as a security professional or looking for continuous improvement to build their expertise, training is as essential to getting up to speed and accelerating a career in the door security field as on-the-job experience.
ASSA ABLOY Academy (www.assaabloyacademy.com) is an extensive and comprehensive curriculum offers valuable in-person and virtual sessions led by field-experienced instructors. In-person, hands-on training happens at company training centers, at regional locations, and through site visits by the Academy’s traveling Mobile Installation Training (MIT) showroom, in addition to a vast number of on-demand courses available through the Academy website.
Along with training on installation, products, codes, and many other topics that locksmith security professionals, integrators, dealers, and distributors can easily search for and enroll in, the Academy website provides ways for individuals and companies to customize career path curriculum.
While ASSA ABLOY Academy continues to offer high-value individual courses for locksmiths, what became clear is how the profession lacked noteworthy trade school representation in the U.S. compared to those for electricians, plumbers, carpenters, and mechanics. That is, until we took the initiative to develop a much-needed addition to our training programs and launched Locksmith Academy.
It’s the first comprehensive program in the country specifically developed to provide a deep understanding of the full breadth of specific requirements, terminology, installation practices, and technology trends that locksmith security professionals need. It also covers the full continuum of locksmith training – apprentice, journeyman, and master level.
At the apprentice level, for example, trainees attend ten intensive days of classes over a continuous two-week period where they learn how to recognize different types of locks, cylinders, hardware, and keys and get plenty of hands-on time to practice everything from key origination to hardware installation. Companies that have sent new hires to the program report how excited and ready the apprentices are to hit the ground running the moment they return.
For more information about Locksmith Academy and upcoming sessions, please contact Carrie Smith at [email protected].
Certified Integrator and Preferred Installer Programs
It’s common for security systems integrators to have at least a small team of installers today. And it’s essential that they’re properly trained. That’s why ASSA ABLOY offers our Certified Integrator Program (www.assaabloydss.com/en/support/installation-and-service-partners/certified-integrators). To date, well over 2,000 integrators have been certified by undergoing factory training that covers installation, configuration, and commissioning. The benefits: faster deployments, fewer mistakes, and improved end-user satisfaction.
Many door security projects, however, are quite large and involve thousands of components – locks, EAC, and door hardware – that need to be installed within a compressed timeframe, which means there’s often a call for extra help. To support these expansive projects, ASSA ABLOY offers installation services through our Preferred Installer program. This gives integrators the ability to outsource this skill to ramp up productivity and ensure installation quality.
For smaller projects, it’s usually not practical to send this force across the country, which is why we’re now expanding our Preferred Installer network to include local technicians in major markets to help meet these needs.
Medeco Service Center (MSC) Program
The MSC program (www.assaabloydss.com/en/support/installation-and-service-partners/medeco-service-centers) at its core is a business building, marketing, and networking organization of 220 locksmiths across the U.S. and Canada. It’s an elite group of security professionals who are committed to providing superior service, installation, and support of ASSA ABLOY Door Opening Solutions.
The program grew out of Medeco’s high security locks, cylinders, and key systems operation and started years ago with a business building curriculum called 2X, which was originally designed to teach people business fundamentals to double their business and profits.
“We recently updated and reintroduced the 2X program at a special event that, again, purely focused on security business – steps that members can incorporate to grow their operations, train people, find new opportunities, be more profitable, and become better leaders in this important field,” notes Hightman. “Next October, we’ll hold our full conference in Orlando where we expect up to 300 members to attend who are always eager to keep learning and expand their operations.”
He adds that the MSC program also includes quarterly meetings with his team to discuss product updates, the latest trends and technologies, and important topics and tips. In addition, they’ve established peer groups where small gatherings of MSC members meet monthly to talk about topics amongst themselves.
Locksmiths and security professionals interested in learning more about the program and how to join can reach out to [email protected] for details.
Locksmithing is one of the oldest professions in the world. And it isn’t going away. The need to protect people’s safety and secure property and assets remains vital. So does the role of the locksmith security professional, just like it has for centuries. With new technological advancements, expanding applications, and continuously better training and support for the trade, opportunities abound.
Heidi Pascale, CMM is Senior Director, Experiential Marketing & Training, ASSA ABLOY Openings Solutions