California Institute of Locksmithing

Locksmithing certification

We previously answered the question, “What is a certified locksmith?” And as it turned out there are about 7 different certifications currently available from the Associated Locksmiths of America (ALOA) and the Safe and Vault Locksmith Technician’s Association (SAVTVA).


A Certified Registered Locksmith is also known as a CRL. This is the first of three possible general certifications, the other two being a Certified Professional Locksmith (CPL) and a Certified Master Locksmith (CML). Obtaining a CRL is also a prerequisite for becoming a CPL.

It is expected that anyone who obtains a CRL will be a person with good working knowledge of all aspects of locksmithing. This person is not considered a specialist in any locksmith trade, but someone who is working towards those specializations in a professional manner.

Who Should Become a Certified Registered Locksmith?

Anyone serious about their career as a locksmith or wanting to further their reputation as a certified locksmith should attempt to become certified.

However, a certification is not to be taken lightly. The written examination can be very difficult if you are new to locksmithing or have not properly prepared.

What is Required to Become a Certified Registered Locksmith?

In order to obtain this certification an individual must pass the 10 mandatory categories and 2 elective categories.

What are the categories?

A category is simply 1 section of a written examination. Currently there are a total of 36 categories. In order to become a CRL, you must pass the following 10 categories:

  1. Codes and Code Equipment
  2. Cylinder Servicing
  3. Key Blank Identification
  4. Key Duplication
  5. Key Impressioning
  6. Professional Lock Opening Techniques
  7. Lockset Functions
  8. Lockset Servicing
  9. Basic Master Keying
  10. Cabinet, Furniture, and Mailbox Locks

The above mandatory categories are combined into 1 single written test. In order to pass you must get at least 70% of the questions correct.

The remaining portion of the test will cover whichever other 2 elective categories you choose to take. Here is a list of the other 26 categories. These categories range from 25 to 40 questions depending on which one is chosen. A passing score of 70% is also required for each of the 2 elective categories.

Who Offers this Certification?

Currently this certification is only offered by the ALOA.

How to Register for the Exam?

You can register for the exam by going to and clicking on the link to the date the exam is offered. It will take you to a registration/application page that you will need to complete.

Notice that this exam rotates around many cities in the United States. The exam must be taken in a physical building and is currently not offered online.

How Much Does the Exam Cost?

The exam currently costs $100 for ALOA members and $295 for non-members.

How Can You Prepare for the Exam?

Contact a local approved school to register for a certification course or study on your own. If you decide to study on your own you should definitely make sure to pick up the Resource Guide for $10 at ALOA, which will walk you through what is on the exam.

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