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Skyrim Skill Training: How to Train Lockpicking

Updated on January 8, 2017
This is a lockpicking screen with the Skeleton Key, a lockpick that never breaks.
This is a lockpicking screen with the Skeleton Key, a lockpick that never breaks.

The only reason I suggest to ever train lockpicking is to max out a character. Lockpicking is perhaps the most useless skill to train, because you can attempt to open any lock in Skyrim regardless of lockpicking level. Therefore the only added benefits to training lockpicking are making it easier to open locks, which may save a few picks and seconds, and potentially getting a few nice perks. If you train lockpicking early-game, you run the risk of leveling too quickly without the combat skills to compete with leveled enemies.

All that being said, I'm going to tell you how to train lockpicking anyway. As you can probably guess, it involves picking locks. I'll first teach you how to efficiently pick locks. Then I'll show you where to get a lot of picks, where to practice, and how to acquire a fence for stolen goods (you may as well make some money while you practice). I'll also show you where to locate a master trainer, just in case you're trying to streamline maxing out lockpicking.

If you look near the arrow while rotating, you can see minor and major changes in arc position.
If you look near the arrow while rotating, you can see minor and major changes in arc position.
If you look near the arrow while rotating, you can see only major changes in arc position.
If you look near the arrow while rotating, you can see only major changes in arc position.
Both arcs have the same angle, but arc 2 has more length by which to reference changes in angle. Use arc 2.
Both arcs have the same angle, but arc 2 has more length by which to reference changes in angle. Use arc 2.

How to lockpick efficiently

You want to pick locks while breaking as few lockpicks as possible. This requires a steady hand, and a lot of guessing and checking. When you turn the lock and it rotates a little, you know you're close. Your next step is to rotate the pick slowly to seek out the correct spot.

When you rotate the pick, sometimes it's fidgety, and you rotate a lot. The trick to finding that sweet spot again is remembering where you started. You can try to remember the initial angle, which is what most people attempt, but this is rather difficult. Instead, look on the outer edge of the lock. You want to use the outer edge of the lock, because it is easier to recognize small differences in rotation when dealing with a larger arc. I've illustrated precisely what I mean, in case this doesn't make sense to you.

Use the texture in the image of the lock to distinguish one spot on the arc from another. You should be able to open master level locks this way, even at low levels. Also, make sure to only tap the rotation when trying a spot. The less you try to force a lock, the less damage will be done to a pick.

Follow the arrow to Riften.
Follow the arrow to Riften.
This is Tonilia.
This is Tonilia.

Finding a fence and lockpicks

I suggest you start the Thieve's Guild. Head over to Riften, and head to the center square. You'll enter a quest that will begin your entry into the guild. If you follow this quest through, you'll eventually come to The Ragged Flagon. Complete the second quest, "Taking Care of Business,: and Tonilia will become a fence for you here. She will also sell you lockpicks. I suggest getting a lot now, and buying them whenever else you see them available. If you continue on with guild missions, you will eventually acquire the Skeleton Key, pictured at the top. You lose this toward the end of the guild quests, so I usually stop before then so I can use the Skeleton Key (that is, until I get the perk that prevents lockpicks from breaking).

This is Delvin Mallory
This is Delvin Mallory
Follow the arrow to Solitude.
Follow the arrow to Solitude.

Finding locks to train lockpicking

Next you'll need locks to pick! The harder the lock is to pick, the more experience you will acquire. You also gain a little bit of experience for breaking lockpicks. One easy way to make some money while picking locks is to do side-quests for the guild. You can Acquire some of these in the flagon from Delvin Mallory. I would also suggest finding shops at night, breaking in, and looting the place! There are plenty of shops in Solitude, so head there. In the meantime, you can find some locks in the training room of the newly accessible Cistern (the hidden back room).

Got a lot of lockpicks?

If you have an excess of picks, you may also want to consider finding a master lock and using it to repeatedly break lockpicks. This is especially nice if you have a way to force the action without being present (such as by using a rubber band or hair tie to hold the analog in place). You can wait a few days away from a fence and purchase more lockpicks. Doing it this way will be cheaper than using a trainer, but it will also take longer and get old really fast.

How to train lockpicking with a trainer

I will now provide detailed information on how to locate trainers who will charge you to automatically level up a skill. Trainers can be used a maximum of five times per player level. This means that at any given level, you may only train any combination of skills five times. If you train smithing five times, you cannot train enchanting until you level. I will not provide all trainers, but instead provide the most efficient and easily accessible trainers only.

For lockpicking in particular, I do not advise you to use a trainer. It is costly and there are better skills to waste your money on considering how lockpicking is pretty useless. Nonetheless, I will provide trainer information in case you decide not to heed my advice.

Train lockpicking with Vex up to Level 90

Vex is in the Flagon, just like everyone else mentioned in this article. You cannot get a lockpick trainer as a follower, so this is going to cost you quite a bit of coin.

Conclusion on training lockpicking

If you discover other methods to train smithing, please feel free to comment below. I may have chosen to exclude certain tactics to train smithing (e.g. skill books), because those methods require a lot of research or are more convoluted than this simple tutorial. I may choose to update this article with more advise in the future. In the meantime, please consider following some of my other Skyrim tutorials!

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