This article is from "Key Issues" 2003 Summer edition
The ILCP-- 2003 Co-Chair View
by John Truempy, CIL
I have been working on the ILA's Institutional Locksmith Certification Program
(ILCP) for a few months now and have received many great questions about it.
But one question that I have never personally been asked but have overheard
many times is "Why is there a need for a certification just for institutional
The answer I dislike the most is "just because we can." The one I dislike second
most is "because a lot of the other associations have them, so we should too."
Well, I can tell you this. I would not have worked on the ILCP at all if the above
had ever been the primary reasons behind ILA's program. I spent up to ten hours
a day for months working on part one of the program - after working an eight-hour day.
And it was not just me; everyone involved had the same demanding schedule.
Each of us knew why we needed our own program, and I guess we assumed that
everyone else knew also.
Let me explain some of the reasons the ILA decided to take on this task.
Institutional locksmithing has become a "specialty" unto itself. We share many
traits with commercial locksmiths and some other professions, yet at the same
time, we are different.
How many of our brethren in the locksmith trade handle the types of jobs and
hardware that institutional locksmiths do on a daily basis? Some of us maintain
systems that are distinctly not typical locksmith work. For example, I work on
clocks and time clocks. Others work on parking systems. And still others work on
debit card systems tied into their access control systems. The ILA needs the
flexibility to be able to adapt to the needs of our members, as they need to be
flexible to their employers' needs.
As for the locksmith-related work we do, even that is different from the
commercial locksmith. Our members are driven by different things than the
commercial locksmith.We are motivated by the needs of our employers. We work
on the same locking systems every day, which often makes us experts with the
systems we use. At the same time we can be handicapped in other areas. If our
buildings use only Schlage locks, then we will know them as well as anyone and
can make repairs under the most unpleasant conditions, such as in a hazardous
research lab under poor lighting conditions. We may even have the problem
diagnosed before seeing the lock. But give that same institutional locksmith
a Corbin Russwin product and he or she may have to really think about how to
fix it. Our exams need to give credit to this expertise without penalizing for
hardware a locksmith may not be familiar with. If you look at our Certified
Journeyman Institutional Locksmith level, that is exactly what we show: Our
expertise working on a specific manufacturer's products.
There are also aspects of the trade that fall heavily under institutional
For example, most of us work for larger companies with larger buildings if
not many large buildings. So things like master keying, exit devices, door closers,
and fire and life safety codes have to be much more heavily represented areas of
Over time, the ILA has looked at other associations' certification programs to
see how well they met our members' needs. The other organizations that offer
certifications have to meet their members' needs the same as we do. For example,
ALOA has to represent their members that work exclusively on automotive locksmithing.
ASIS has to represent their members that consult on full security packages rather
than how to hand a Sargent 700. DHI does deal with the same hardware and systems,
but not on the level that we do.
So even though these organizations (and a few others) offer great certifications,
none fit like a glove. That gave us one option - create our own. Not to compete with
anyone, but simply to meet the unique needs of our members. It is a certification
written for institutional locksmiths by institutional locksmiths about institutional
This just scratches the surface of the process that the ILA has been going through
for years to develop the Institutional Locksmith Certification Program. But I hope it
helps those who wondered why we wanted to in the first place.
Any questions should be e-mailed to
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