Lockout services are like police--generally ignored unless desperately needed. Because emergency lockouts are often so urgent, you can make a good deal of money for every call you make. Full-time lock technicians made an average of $31,000 in 2009, according to simplyhired.com. Running a part-time lockout service can easily add $1,000 or more to your monthly income.
Get trained as a locksmith. You can do this online through distance-learning programs such as DeVry Institute and ITT Technical Institute. Most programs take less than a year to complete as a full-time student.
Fix your credit and any criminal history while you're training. Getting licensed and bonded as a locksmith often includes a background check. While some aspects of your history are unfixable, do what you can to clean it up.
Get licensed through your state. In most cases, this requires registering with the state where you'll do business. The appropriate agency will check your background and then cash your check. Some states may require more extensive procedures.
Get liability insurance and bonding through the insurance company of your choice. If you already have homeowners, auto or life insurance, check with the company that carries those. Many companies offer a multipolicy discount.
Get as large a yellow pages ad as you can afford. Emergency services such as lockout and towing are some of the few industries where yellow pages presence still matters.
Contact local towing companies to offer your services. Many companies would rather split a fee with a subcontractor than commit one of their trucks on a busy night.
Contact AAA, Good Sams, AARP, local car dealers and any other companies that offer roadside assistance packages. In most cases, those programs refer customers to local vendors from a list. Do what you need to do in order to get on the list.
You also will need to take care of the generic steps of starting a business, such as acquiring local licenses, filing corporate status, acquiring equipment and setting up a website.
Unless you plan to have staff, be prepared to answer your phone 24/7. Lockouts don't always occur at convenient, business-day hours. Being willing to take calls at off hours will give you a leg up on locksmiths who choose not to offer that service.