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A locksmith apprentice does everything that a locksmith does, but the apprentice simply does so under the watchful eye of a locksmith. Making keys, opening stuck locks and even drilling safes in order to open them are activities done by the locksmith apprentice. Along with opening locked vehicles and picking locks that have no keys, the locksmith apprentice often makes calls to homes and businesses to install door locks as well as to install alarm systems, safes and security lock boxes. The apprentice is sometimes tasked to repair and refinish antique safes and door lock mechanisms and will occasionally be asked to provide records and information about company locks and security systems.
In most areas, it is necessary to be a locksmith apprentice for a length of time in order to become a licensed locksmith. The locksmith apprentice is commonly assigned some of the more random tasks in the locksmith's office, such as cutting duplicate keys for customers and restocking shelves with supplies. Duties, such as the cleaning of the shop and the mobile service vehicle, are also typically assigned to the apprentice. More detailed and skilled assignments, such as opening a safe with a drill or stethoscope placed next to the combination dial, are closely supervised by the locksmith.
When a call comes into the shop to report a locked vehicle requiring opening, the locksmith apprentice is commonly the one to go to the scene and open the vehicle. Often the apprentice will use a typical opening device, such as a Slim Jim®, and other times, the doors will require a more knowledgeable method of releasing the lock, such as picking the lock's tumblers. Installing security locks and even deadbolts in a home or business is commonly assigned to the apprentice. Alarm systems will often be installed with the locksmith apprentice assisting the locksmith and even making detailed drawings of the system to be used as future reference materials for both the locksmith and the building owners.
Sometimes an antique safe or lock box will be brought to the locksmith's office, along with a request to refinish and restore the item. Often the combination or key for the safe is not available to open the door, requiring the locksmith apprentice to open the door by drilling the lock, picking the lock or even cutting the hinge pins with a torch. Once opened, the locksmith apprentice will install or rebuild the lock and refinish the safe to look as good as new.