Lockers are getting bigger and more popular.
The trend is catching on, and it has become a big business.
The lock-picking industry has grown from a few dozen people in the 1970s to more than 60,000 in the 1990s.
But today, there are about 5 million locksmiths in the U.S. and more than 100 million locks in use.
They range from small, specialty shops to big-name brands like Home Depot and Home Depot Superstore.
But the biggest locksmith shops have become a lot smaller over the past few years.
What’s behind the shift?
One factor is technology.
The market for lock picking is so fragmented that most locksmith companies don’t have much in the way of online presence.
As a result, there is little research and training in lock picking for the general public, said Tom Houser, the locksmith professor at Syracuse University.
As an exception, he said, there’s an increasing amount of research and technology being put into lock picking.
Some lock-pickers say they’re learning the ropes, while others are trying to become more certified, and that can also be a challenge.
“You have to be really good at what you’re doing,” said Andrew Dickson, who teaches locksmithing at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
Housers research shows that in general, locksmith training is lacking.
The average age of locksmith apprenticeship programs is 30, and only 40 percent of them are held in lockpicking schools.
That’s because most locks are still relatively new, and lock picking has a relatively short apprenticeship period.
Lock picking is also not a particularly lucrative career.
A survey of lock pickers in New York found that they earn $14,000 a year in the trade, or about $4,300 per month.
That compares to $20,000 for locksmith jobs in the United States as a whole.
Even though there are plenty of locks out there, most of them can’t compete with the big guys like HomeDepot and HomeDepots Superstore, which charge thousands of dollars for a class.
The new locks are becoming a bigger draw for the big locksmith brands.
Home Depot, which was one of the first to offer lock picking services in 1995, started offering locksmith services last year, said spokesman John McAlister.
The company’s “biggest growth is lock pick training,” McAlisters said.
HomeDepo is also launching a locksmith program this fall.
Lockpicking, a skill taught in lock schools, is the most important skill to learn for a locksperson, he added.
Lockpickers like Housman have long complained that the industry doesn’t have enough training for the current workforce.
Lock manufacturers have to develop and sell a product, and locksmith schools can’t make a living if they don’t sell locks.
So, Houserman said, they’re working on creating better training programs.
HomeLock, for example, is launching a three-week, six-week training program.
That’ll be the first in the nation to be a full-time program, Howser said.
That way, lockspicks can get a full course load in one year, plus an additional three weeks of hands-on training in a lock shop.
Home Lock is also looking to raise the pay for lockspickers, he noted.
The program will pay a full salary to the first 40 people to earn a lockmaster certification, up to $100,000.
After that, the program will start paying a full stipend.
Home and HomeLock said they’re looking to train more lockspingers through the programs.
McAlist said the lockpicking industry is in a difficult place.
“There’s a lot of pressure,” he said.
“We’re at the dawn of the age of lockpicking and lockpicks are being replaced by other types of locks.”
The trend could be just getting started.
The U.N. is working on setting up a program that would train locksmith and locksperson apprentices.
The organization also recently set up a lock-making program.
Both programs could help train lock pickier and lockspicker apprentices in a way that would encourage them to continue to work in the industry, said David Nachman, the director of the UNAIDS program for locks.
But lockpicking is still a tough trade, he warned.
“It’s not a very well-paying job,” Nachmann said.
Some locksmith programs have closed.
Some of the locks that are still in business are struggling to stay afloat, he pointed out.
“If you’re a lockspier in a big city like New York, you probably don’t make much,” Nechman said.