Locksmiths are specially trained to install, repair and open locks. A locksmith can open a house or car door even when the owner has lost his keys and can also create a new set of keys. Fourteen states require a person to obtain a government-issued license before he can practice as a commercial locksmith. Several other jurisdictions also have licensing requirements for locksmiths, and one state requires locksmiths to obtain local permits.
Fourteen states -- Alabama, California, Connecticut, Illinois, Louisiana, Maryland, Nebraska, New Jersey, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Oregon, Tennessee, Texas, and Virginia -- require locksmiths to obtain a license from a state agency, as of July 2011. Locksmiths must meet credentials established by the state. Several states license locksmith businesses separately from individual locksmiths.
Nevada requires locksmiths to obtain a permit locally, from the sheriff of the county in which the locksmith works. However, Nevada does not establish specific criteria for who can obtain a license and the decision of whether to issue a permit is left to the sheriff.
New York City and Nassau County, NY, also require locksmiths to be licensed within their jurisdiction, according to information from the Associated Locksmiths of America.
Locksmiths generally must undergo a criminal background check before they are issued a license. States vary as to competency qualifications, but several states require written tests, a practical examination or both before a license can be issued.
States often include additional requirements for licensed locksmiths. Licensees may be required to prominently display their license, check identification of the person hiring their services and keep records of all locksmith services performed for a period of several years.