1. Cress Albane

    Cress Albane Active Member

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    American life

    Discussion in 'Research' started by Cress Albane, Jan 13, 2022.

    One of my WIP is supposed to be set in a fictional town in America. Just doing basic research, I noticed there are thousands of small differences between living in Europe and US. So, I kind of wanted to make a thread to ask people from America about a few things:

    - In American High Schools, do the teachers inform their students about sudden timetable changes? I wanted to have a scene where the students all wait for the teacher, but she doesn't arrive, so the students assume the class is canceled. These sorts of things happened frequently in Poland, but I'm not sure if other countries have some sort of rules that would discourage such behaviors on the teacher's part.
    - How hard is it to get accepted to college? I mean, ANY college. Like, is it possible for someone to not get accepted only due to low grades, even if that person can afford college?
    - What do you need to get a physical job? I read something about vocation training, but it confuses me. In Poland, you choose a type of High School called Vocational School when you turn 15. But the examples of Vocational Schools in the USA I saw seem more like regular high schools to me - not the absolute hellhole you're thrown into when you fail you're middle school exams.

    Thanks in advance!
     
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  2. Bruce Johnson

    Bruce Johnson Contributor Contributor

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    Prior to COVID, I've never known students to arrive at a high school class without either a teacher or substitute teacher. College, yes, but high school, no.

    I did have a high school teacher that would leave his class unsupervised for what I considered an unbearable amount of time (think being one of the uncool kids sitting in the front of the class with all the jocks and stoners in the back). But he always returned before class was over.
     
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  3. Terbus

    Terbus Member

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    Currently Reading::
    Fatal Passage by Ken McGoogan
    In high school, there's always going to be a teacher. If they are not available, there's a substitute, or they call in the principal or someone from admin to teach the class. No unsupervised students.

    Depends on the college. Having the money to go in the US is far more difficult than getting in. Your local community college will take just about anyone, but the nicer ones require both money and good grades. I am a fair example of this, my grades aren't great but I have the money for college; so, a community college.

    What type of job? You can get any entry level job working say, Fast Food, with nothing but a Food Handles Permit. Working as a cashier requires even less. I'll need more details to answer properly.
     
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  4. Catriona Grace

    Catriona Grace Dog mom Contributor

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    My two cents worth:

    Physical jobs: my daughter went to work in a home improvement store at sixteen and my son went to work framing houses when he was fifteen. BOth were still in high school. She had nothing but determination that she was going to get hired at that store if she had to call HR every single day. He took a building and trades program as a freshman in high school and built his first house along with the teacher and four other kids. The B&T program wasn't a hellhole course, but was aimed at "problem" students. We had to fight the school district to get him in the course because he was "college material" and never mind that he hated school and did not intend to go to college.

    In high school, it would be unusual for classes to not be covered somehow. I suppose if a teacher had an accident on the way to class and no way to let authorities know his or her class needed to be covered, students might be left alone for a while. If the class left the room, though, someone would probably notice them wandering through the halls.

    Community colleges and some state colleges accept essentially all applicants from the state/community but not everyone who is accepted manages to stay in school; some folks simply don't have the necessary academic background and flunk out. Others don't have the consistency, self discipline, or determination to endure the academic bovine excrement they encounter. Other colleges require a certain GPA or scores on academic achievement tests. Some colleges are so sought after that in addition to perfect GPA, high test scores, and tons of money, applicants have to present themselves as somehow remarkable, and even then might not be able to get in.

    We're lucky with our small community college. It ranks in the top quarter of community colleges nationwide, offers a wide variety of programs and certifications, and is affordable for people who don't have a lot of money or high GPAs. This is from the college's website:

    At CC, our focus is on access and affordability for all students and so our admission criteria allows all high school graduates admission. Students with a poor academic history (less than 2.0 GPA) are asked to petition for admission.

    The admission process varies depending on the student’s status: degree or certificate, non-degree, high school, transfer, or international. Some programs have admission requirements that are more restrictive than the college’s general admission requirements.

    I hope that isn't TMI, Cress.
     
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  5. Cress Albane

    Cress Albane Active Member

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    I was actually hoping to get longer answers ;)

    Jobs like plumber, construction worker, barber, locksmith, mechanic, etc. In Poland, to do any of these, you need to finish a 3-year long Vocational School (well, you can try to apply after only finishing a course or something, but there's a low chance anyone will take you without a Vocational School diploma.)
     
  6. Catriona Grace

    Catriona Grace Dog mom Contributor

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    Me, again. My husband learned to be a locksmith on the job. He was one of the carpenters at a local medical center and became locksmith as well, having attending seminars held by the lock company. He and my son both worked as auto mechanics, having learned to fix their own vehicles back in the days when one didn't have to deal with all sorts of computers and stuff. Construction workers often start as unskilled labor and learn on the job. I learned to operate heavy equipment at my job on the college ranch when I was in school. There are certification programs for things like certified nursing assistants, certified legal assistants, truckdrivers, etc., though you can also get degrees in the same. Trades often have their own systems of on the job and formal education. My son is a firefighter who started out as a volunteer and worked his way into professional status; there are also college programs in fire science and many departments now require formal education. My daughter went to a community college police academy before getting her job, but in many places, departments will hire new officers and pay for them to go through the academy.
     
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  7. J.T. Woody

    J.T. Woody The Ole Frazzle-Dazzle Contributor

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    My experience is not the norm, but here it goes!

    - In American High Schools, do the teachers inform their students about sudden timetable changes?
    I went to private school. the teachers were always there. the only time class was cancelled like that was when a teacher accidently showed porn on the projector and ran out of the classroom in shame or embarrassment. he didnt come back for the remainder of the class and no one else came in. if a teacher had to miss class, another teacher would cover for them.

    - How hard is it to get accepted to college? I mean, ANY college. Like, is it possible for someone to not get accepted only due to low grades, even if that person can afford college?
    I was a high school athlete, i was in the National Honor Society, high SAT/ACT scores, and in the International Baccalaureate program (typical HS classes are graded on a 4.0 scale, but I.B. is graded on a 5.0 scale to put it in perspective). Also did things like volunteer at Special Olympics, give school tours to incoming freshmen and their families, give presentations at symposiums. i was a nerd.
    with all that said, it made it easier for me to get into colleges (except Ivy league.... i applied to Brown and didnt get in....). I got athletic and academic scholarships to a few schools that I applied to and had other schools calling me about athletics. I ended up choosing a tiny catholic school in the mountains run by nuns :crazy:

    my brother, on the other hand... got rejected from every school he applied to. he went to a performing arts high school where the focus was your art (his music). his grades were OK (did just enough to pass), he did no athletics or extra credits other than music based ones (he volunteered at a arts camp as a peer mentor in music). getting rejected by all his choices, he pretty much gave up. he got into college when the dean of the music department of a university in Canada was visiting his school and heard him practicing in one of the classrooms and offered him a scholarship for music.

    he's finished paying off his student loans. I'm still paying off mine (got it under 20k finally, woo!)

    - What do you need to get a physical job? I read something about vocation training, but it confuses me.
    a job? basically you just need to have a HS diploma or a GED, some relevant experience and/or relevant training and certifications.
    to get a job in your field? certificates and more degrees in addition to X amount of experience. in my field, i needed an MLIS (Masters of Library and Information Sciences). in order to get that, you need a BA (Bachelors of Arts). I got mine in English Literature which is basically the norm for most librarians unless you are a specialty librarian... like a medical librarian would need an additional degree in medicine. a music librarian would need a BA in music. an Academic librarian (college/university) may need a degree in the course that they are helping with (example, a previous employer of mine became an academic librarian at a birding observatory, and she has a minor degree in ornithology). For school librarianship, you need a degree in education as well as a teaching certificate in the state you are going to be a librarian in. IN ADDITION TO experience. i worked for a year as a student library clerk and then 2 years as a library assistant before becoming a full librarian.

    as a HS student, i didnt work. my "job" was to be a student, as my parents put it. my summer jobs were working in the file room in my mom's office.
     
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  8. J.T. Woody

    J.T. Woody The Ole Frazzle-Dazzle Contributor

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    my husband was a top recruit because his BA in criminal justice... but they still paid to send him through the police academy since here there are trained in the fire department as well. the courses were taught at a community college
     
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  9. SapereAude

    SapereAude Contributor Contributor

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    In the U.S. anyone can be a locksmith, but to be a good locksmith would require working with/under a good locksmith for several years. Essentially, an apprenticeship -- but without a formal program. Other trades, however, such as plumber or electrician, require a license, and in order to obtain the license a person first has to go through a formal apprenticeship program. Barbers and hair stylists also require licenses, and the applicant has to have completed an accredited training course before obtaining the license.

    There are many types of construction worker. Aside from plumbers and electricians, there are trades such as mason and carpenter that typically require some sort of apprenticeship before you can get a good job as a lead (top dog) worker, foreman, or superintendent. But anyone can get a job on a construction project as a laborer. Laborers don't perform skilled work; they push brooms, carry bags of materials from one part of the site to another, dig holes where the machines can't reach, etcetera.

    In my state, there are a few vocational high schools where the emphasis is on learning a trade such as carpentry, plumbing, electrician, or auto mechanic rather than preparing for college. I don't have any idea what percentage of the high school population attends those schools -- my guess is that it's very small.
     
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  10. Friedrich Kugelschreiber

    Friedrich Kugelschreiber marshmallow Contributor

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    community colleges are pretty damn easy to get into. state schools in general tend not to be particularly difficult, but some are more prestigious than others. Acceptance is predicated on grades, at least for any reputable institution. ALL the reputable colleges are nonprofit/state run, and whether you can pay or not is a separate issue. To get any kind of job you need at the bare minimum to prove that you are legally able to work in the US. We don't have the kinds of exams that you seem to have in Europe, which determine the trajectory of your academic career; everyone goes to the same kind of high school, generally, unless it's an alternative school. I've never heard of vocational high schools. If they do exist they must be rare. If someone goes into the trades, they pursue that outside of high school.
     
  11. Catriona Grace

    Catriona Grace Dog mom Contributor

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    He got out with training in both LE and fire? Neat. Daughter paid for academy, then the PD paid her back for her college classes for her BA in crim. jus. which she finished last month (yea for her- 10 years of part time attendance is no easy undertaking).
     
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  12. Le Panda Du Mal

    Le Panda Du Mal Senior Member

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    By law there is always supposed to be an accredited adult in the room with the kids, but scheduling mistakes do happen and in my experience (I worked as a substitute teacher for a while) students showing up at an empty classroom does sometimes occur.

    As someone else said, community colleges and state colleges are usually not terribly hard to get into.

    I think by "physical job" you mean what we call a "trade"- some skilled work like plumbing, carpentry, masonry, mechanic, etc. I didn't go to a vocational high school but from what I heard they are not too different from regular high schools, not hellish at least (hellish would be the "alternative schools" or even worse the "tough love" camps some parents pay to kidnap their kids). Kids in standard high schools often made fun of the kids in these vocational schools but the last laugh was on them as the vocational school kids ended up making a lot more money.
     
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  13. Catriona Grace

    Catriona Grace Dog mom Contributor

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    Some schools have programs where kid go to core classes at the regular high school half the day and job training programs the other half. That was what my son did. He had marketable skills before he graduated and lacked only one math class to graduate halfway through his junior year. Several years later, the school district started a modified vocational school that has had less than stellar enrollment, though people are gradually coming around to the idea.
     
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  14. Alcove Audio

    Alcove Audio Senior Member

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    Several things to consider is the era of your fictional American town and its location. There is a huge difference between the Little Red Schoolhouse of the "Wild West" in the post-Civil War U.S. and a suburban school 150 years later. In my 1960s suburban community most of us walked to school. I lived directly across the street from my K-3 school, walked about a half mile to 4-6 school and a bit over a mile to the combination 7-12 Middle and High School. A few took busses, quite a few rode bicycles. Still to this day rural kids have to get up early for a long bus ride to school. In the cities kids take school busses or mass transit.

    If you can get the money - grants, scholarships, loans or out of your own pocket - you can get into a local community college (relatively inexpensive, most everyone is accepted) all the way up to a prestigious university (if you have lots of money, connections and the grades). Trade schools are becoming more popular with men in the past couple of decades.

    Kindergarten through secondary school graduation is all "book learning." Then you either go to college/university or venture out into the work force, with a few going to trade schools.
     
    Last edited: Jan 15, 2022
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  15. Cress Albane

    Cress Albane Active Member

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    Virginia, 2012 (Prologue), 2017 (Main story). As always, I forgot something :oops:

    We might use different terminology. In Poland, "trade jobs" are ones you don't need any education for (shop clerks, cleaners, fast-food employees, etc.). To do a "Physical Job" you need to pass a Vocational Exam in the profession you're pursuing. These exams are done by Vocational Schools - technically, you can pass without attending the 3-year school program, but it's rare.

    Another shock for me - At least 20% of Polish high schools are Vocational Schools.

    Well, Polish education system is unbelievably strict. In general, what you'll do in life depends on how well you do during your middle school exams (and now that we no longer have middle schools, it depends on the elementary school exams.) With bad grades, you can only hope to get into Vocational schools. Average grades will net you a technical school. Good grades will give you a CHANCE to get accepted to high schools. Sometimes, people choose technical schools over high schools and very, VERY rarely people go to Vocational Schools of their own volition. But it's generally the way school culture is set up in Poland - jocks and junkies get Vocational, normal people get technical, nerds and geniuses get high school. There are some exceptions of course - on rare occasions, technical schools offer better education than high schools. There are also some low-rated high schools, where people with bad grades who still hope they'll get into college, hang out. That's why I called Vocational Schools hellhole - in most cases, only the worst students go there. The atmosphere is very creepy, illegal drugs are everywhere and students do whatever they want.

    Also, additional question - I looked into names of American high schools and... are they really that simple? My high school was called "Zbigniew Herbert's Twentieth High School in Gdańsk". This was the official name that needed to be used in all official papers.
     
  16. J.T. Woody

    J.T. Woody The Ole Frazzle-Dazzle Contributor

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    Schools here are pretty much just named after people. Catholic schools are named after holy people, public schools are named after public figures.

    New York City is the only place that i personally know of that gives their school numbers (i.e. "P.S. 12").

    My elementary school was named after a politician. Middle school was named after a historic educator from the 1800s, and my HS was named after an Archbishop
     
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  17. SapereAude

    SapereAude Contributor Contributor

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    Please remember that the United States is comprised of 50 individual states, plus the District of Columbia. Each state has its own state department of education and, therefore, its own educational system. In my state, vocational "trade" schools are a variety of public high school.
     
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  18. Catriona Grace

    Catriona Grace Dog mom Contributor

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    Names of schools: I went to three grade schools, two junior highs, and one high school. Two were named after former school teachers, three had place names, one was named after a US president. My children went to schools with place names with one exception, a high school named after a very popular and effective teacher/principal/administrator. Thinking about it, most of the schools here in town have names that are either just nice names (Cottonwood) or place names (Westside). A few, mostly established in the early to mid-20th century, are named after people.

    Apropos of nothing in particular: as of this post, my number of posts and likes match at 1,737.
     
    Last edited: Jan 15, 2022
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  19. Alcove Audio

    Alcove Audio Senior Member

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    My high school was simply named after the town - Rye High School.
     
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  20. SapereAude

    SapereAude Contributor Contributor

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    I only went to two schools. Elementary school was grades 1 through 6. The school was located in the center of town, so it was named (cleverly) Center School. High school was grades 7 through 12. It was a regional high school serving three towns and they made up a name for it, using a word from Latin.

    There were (and are) vocational ("trade") high schools in three adjoining towns (but not any of the towns making up our high school region).
     
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  21. newjerseyrunner

    newjerseyrunner Contributor Contributor

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    Let’s go one at a time.

    No, teachers do not set schedules and the timetable is extremely rigid. A teacher is not tenured and is a low wage worker in the US. They have no control over their time blocks, the school did to the sets that. Absent teachers are replaced with a sub or another teacher if they’re sick or something.

    what you’re describing sounds more like a college.



    Short of higher end schools, I doubt admissions really cares about grades. I knew plenty of kids in my school who were very obvious flunkies. They look almost exclusively at your financial situation. Good grades help purely for scholarship and grant reasons. Good grades in high schools means your more likely to get a government-guaranteed financial aid.


    No, that comes after. That’s called a trade school here. They’re usually cheaper and not as good generally and focus exclusively on getting you to an employer as fast as possible. 2 years is a long stint at these types of schools, where most degrees from real universities take 4. I’m not sure how well regulated these are now, because many are straight up scams. “Trump University” was one of these. Not all of them, MIT is also one of these and very legit.

    High school kids getting jobs in the US is more out of necessity. Our middle class has just collapsed in the past 40 years. The average income of two adults is not even close to the expenses of a family with kids, so they just have to pitch in. This is a major reason younger people just aren’t having kids.
     
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  22. newjerseyrunner

    newjerseyrunner Contributor Contributor

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    This is a variety. Some of these are skilled and some aren’t.

    Plumbers are skilled workers doing things that have very specific government guidelines that any reputable plumber will be licensed to follow. During major projects, you’ll also have an inspector to make sure the plumbing is done right. That said, there are tons of unlicensed plumbers that all the landlords know that take cash for quick jobs. It’s illegal, but probably the norm. When my roof collapsed, I called the fire inspector. He looked at the pipes in the ceiling for one seconds, took my landlords downstairs and yelled at them for a while. The government takes things like that very seriously and they are in a lot of trouble.

    Construction is a wide field. You have both skilled and unskilled laborers there. Architects, electricians, gas guys, the guys working with concrete, there all licensed. The guys hammering walls together is not. He’s the construction equivalent of an assembly line worker, not the engineer who actually designs anything. You can also usually offer these guys cash for off the record changes too.

    Locksmith is definitely not. There might be night courses for it at some tech schools, but anyone who knows how can do it.

    There are barber schools, but it’s not required. I would imagine those are more for stylists than barbers. I also imagine someone who owned a barber shop wouldn’t let someone who didn’t go to school do anything with a straightrazor or anything, but they can certainly cut hair.

    Mechanics usually have 2 year degrees from tech schools. I think it’d be very hard to get a job as one without certification as cars are very complex machines. But again, most of us have “a guy” who works for a legit company and has a side hustle for cash. If I have car trouble that his company will charge me $500 for, he gets his usual $50/he to fix it from them and I pay a total of $500, but if I call him directly and cut the company out, he’ll do it for $250. He makes five times what he would have, I pay half price for what I would have, and get the exact same outcome without lining his bosses pockets (who did no work.)
     
    Last edited: Jan 16, 2022
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  23. Friedrich Kugelschreiber

    Friedrich Kugelschreiber marshmallow Contributor

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    locksmiths are absolutely skilled laborers
     
  24. newjerseyrunner

    newjerseyrunner Contributor Contributor

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    I appear to have mistaken what a locksmith is, and it may be used to mean multiple people.

    The guy they send to install or pick locks is not a skilled laborer. That’s the assembly line worker in the construction analogy. I’m assuming that’s not the same guy who actually designing and machining lock parts.

    Do they even do still that though? If so, this is definitely a dying profession because although locks are fairly complicated, they’re still on the lower end of complexity, compared to like a mechanical clock or automatic transmission, and I couldn’t possibly conceive any level of skill that would beat the efficiency of one guy with autocad and a laser cutter/3D printer.

    So do modern locksmiths even machine anymore or is their job entirely just using the cad software and maybe latheing once in a blue moon to fix an old lock they don’t have specs for and can’t scan?
     
  25. Friedrich Kugelschreiber

    Friedrich Kugelschreiber marshmallow Contributor

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    It seems that more advanced security arrangements remain the province of skilled locksmiths. I found this on Wikipedia:

    "Locks have been constructed for over 2500 years, initially out of wood and later out of metal.[1] Historically, locksmiths would make the entire lock, working for hours hand cutting screws and doing much file-work. Lock designs became significantly more complicated in the 18th century, and locksmiths often specialized in repairing or designing locks.

    After the rise of cheap mass production, the vast majority of locks are repaired by swapping parts or like-for-like replacement or upgraded to modern mass-production items. Until more recently, safes and strongboxes were the exceptions to this, and large bank vaults are custom designed and built at great cost, the very limited scope for mass production of vaults means it is more difficult to realize economies of scale in their manufacture, and the risk of a copy being obtained and defeated is lowered when vaults are custom-made.[citation needed]

    Although fitting of keys to replace lost keys to automobiles and homes and the changing of keys for homes and businesses to maintain security is still an important part of locksmithing, locksmiths today are primarily involved in the installation of higher quality lock-sets and the design, implementation, and management of keying and key control systems. Most locksmiths also do electronic lock servicing, such as making smart keys for transponder-equipped vehicles and the implementation and application of access control systems protecting individuals and assets for many large institutions.[2]

    In terms of physical security, a locksmith's work frequently involves making a determination of the level of risk to an individual or institution and then recommending and implementing appropriate combinations of equipment and policies to create "security layers" which exceed the reasonable gain to an intruder or attacker. The more different security layers are implemented, the more the requirement for additional skills and knowledge, and tools to defeat them all. But because each layer comes at an expense to the customer, the application of appropriate levels without exceeding reasonable costs to the customer is often very important and requires a skilled and knowledgeable locksmith to determine.

    While a handyman can also install and replace locks, locksmiths are specialists whose involvement may be desirable for several reason. As mentioned above, their knowledge of different lock systems can help in appropriate lock selection and the establishment of best practices. Additionally, locksmiths in many places are required by law to undergo training and maintain certification."
     
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