How to Become a Loss Prevention Specialist

Shoplifters, unscrupulous employees and significant accounting errors are responsible for billions of dollars in lost revenue for retail merchants each year. It is estimated that nearly half of all reported losses are due to employee theft alone. Reliance on computer-based records and paperless payments, combined with the spikes in retail theft that economic downturn seems to encourage, have led to increased demand for skilled loss prevention specialists.


This How to Become a Loss Prevention Specialist review has been thoroughly researched with information and testimonials that are available to anyone in the public. Any conclusions drawn by myself are opinions.

What does a loss prevention specialist do?

Loss prevention specialists or agents, also known as asset protection officers (the term ‘store detective’ is no longer widely used), may work directly for a specific merchant or as part of a contracted private security force. Their primary responsibility is to protect the assets of the retail merchants by focusing specifically on the areas of shoplifting, employee theft, and flaws in record-keeping for inventory and cash flow.

Loss prevention agents develop and evaluate methods for monitoring customers and employees, such as closed circuit cameras, security tags, and computer tracking systems. They conduct personal inspections of checkout stations, dressing rooms, stock rooms, and rest rooms. Typically, they work alone or in small teams in irregular shifts. They may work in full uniform or undercover, blending in with customers searching for vulnerabilities in a store’s security processes. These trained specialists must act independently to solve suspected loss or theft.

When evidence of a theft or major error is discovered, the loss prevention specialist may conduct interviews and search store records to build a case. They may be required to physically apprehend an alleged shoplifter or detain a suspect employee. They prepare reports for use in criminal or administrative hearings, and may also be called upon to testify in court. Although loss-prevention specialists work with law enforcement, most instances of shoplifting and employee theft do not result in arrest. Click here to find out how to become a loss prevention specialist.

What kind of training does a loss prevention specialist need?

Typically, loss prevention specialists are required to have an associate degree in law or criminal justice. Many agencies prefer a bachelor degree or higher.

Due to the wide variety of forms of fraud and theft, students may focus their career choices by specializing in computer science, accounting, marketing, and psychology.

What are the prospects for a career as a loss prevention specialist?

A report by the Bureau of Labor Statistics indicates strong employment prospects for detective and criminal investigators, including loss prevention specialist jobs. Employment rates are expected to grow by over 18% (about 9,400 jobs), by 2016. Roughly 20% of loss prevention specialist positions are directly with retail merchants, with the remainder falling in private detective agencies and other security services. (1)

How much do loss prevention specialists make?

Yearly salaries for entry-level employees begin around $37,000. Advancement in this career to senior management positions, brings potential earnings to more than $55,400. (2)

A career as a loss prevention agent is fast-paced, interactive, and multi-faceted. The strong outlook for future hiring needs, makes this positions an excellent choice for Law and Criminal Justice program graduates who enjoy working in a retail environment. Click here to find your path to a loss prevention career.

Elijah Olivas
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