How to Become a Loss Prevention Officer
At the heart of retail are the needs of the customer. One way stores keep customers happy is by keeping prices low. Loss prevention is one of the most important departments in any retail store because loss prevention officers can minimize theft, keep profit margins high, and help keep consumer prices low. If you're looking for an entry-level criminal justice job that can get you experience in the field, consider becoming a loss prevention officer or manager. Use our directory of criminal justice programs to get started!
Though loss prevention officers are often put to use in low-range to mid-range stores, they may be most helpful in high-end stores with expensive merchandise. If you plan on working in this field, it's important to be confident and ready to handle confrontation or conflict. Since you need to be ready to work common retail hours, you may need to work nights, weekends, and even holidays. Teamwork is another crucial aspect of this job, as you must be ready to work with other retail team members to apprehend thieves. This may be a job that people pursue while completing a law enforcement degree, so you can often get started if you meet minimum qualifications. Keep reading to find out how you can get started as a loss prevention officer or manager!
Education Requirements for Becoming a Loss Prevention Officer/Manager
The career path to working in loss prevention depends on whether you want to become a loss prevention agent or manager. Most managers begin as officers and gain the privilege of working as a manager after proving themselves at the officer level. While many employers provide on-the-job training that gives you the skills you need to work in loss prevention, you may wish to pursue a loss prevention degree that further enhances your education and prepares you for advanced work in this field. A major in loss prevention may include courses like Communications in Loss Prevention, Principles of Asset Protection, Loss Prevention Data Analysis, and Retail Accounting & Inventory Control. To flesh out your criminal justice education, you may take general criminal justice courses like Problem Solving in Criminal Justice, Legal Aspects of Loss Prevention, and Liability Law in Criminal Justice.
Earning a degree in loss prevention or criminal justice may take you about four years if you decide to earn a Bachelor's degree. However, some people decide to work in loss prevention while working toward a criminal justice degree. In that case, you need to meet other hiring requirements.
When you apply for a loss prevention agent position, you may need to subject yourself to a credit and background check. If either check comes back with worrying information—any criminal record, too much debt, or late bills—you may be disqualified from any openings. This is because employers want to ensure that they are hiring people who can be trusted to maintain the financial integrity of their store. In addition to the security and financial requirements of LP jobs, you may need to meet some physical restrictions. Since loss prevention may require you to chase down suspects or use physical force in some cases, you may need to have a certain fitness level to get hired by a major retail chain.
Career Outlook and Salary Potential for Loss Prevention Officer/Manager
As the retail industry continues to grow, the job outlook for loss prevention officers and managers is expected to increase. In the decade from 2016 to 2026, O*Net expects job openings for loss prevention specialists to increase by 5-9%. The same job growth rate is expected for loss prevention managers.
In large retail markets, the job outlook for loss prevention officers and managers may be more promising. For example, job openings for LP managers in California are expected to increase by 13% and job openings for loss prevention specialists may see an increase of 12%.
Your salary potential differs significantly depending on whether you become a loss prevention officer of an LP manager. In 2017, the annual average salary for an LP officer was $30,240 per year, while managers claimed an average of $105,610 per year. In Florida, managers in 2017 had an average salary of $98,620 and specialists bring in a median income of $31,190 annually.
Working as a Loss Prevention Officer/Manager
In the field of loss prevention, one of the most important job duties is observation. In some cases, you wear the uniform of the store where you work and observe customers that way. In other cases, you disguise yourself as a customer to try to catch customers in the act of stealing. You may watch customers as you walk around the store or you may watch via surveillance cameras in an office or back room. Wherever you work, vigilance is expected of you.
If you become a loss prevention officer, you may take on more of the day-to-day tasks of monitoring customers and looking for signs of theft. As a manager, however, you may have a bigger role in the creation of loss prevention plans and policies.
You may also check over the work of the LP officers below you to ensure that they are not missing or condoning employee or customer theft. In many cases, LP officers uncover employee theft, as well. This may require you to look for the signs of fraudulent discount usage, employees undercharging themselves or their friends for items, or blatantly stealing from the store. Loss prevention is important both to customers and to retailers. If you are ready to get started din the field of criminal justice now, use our search tools to find programs near you or online!
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