Loss prevention specialists are often thought of as security guards or police officers that work exclusively in retail stores, but the loss prevention job description is quite different. Loss prevention officers work inside store in plain clothes, trying to catch shoplifters before they can take merchandise out of the store. These officers are often in charge of all inventory duties as their primary job is to secure the store so that merchandise stays in and company profit is not lost.
There are different levels of employment in this field, starting with entry level loss prevention officers and leading up to store and region loss prevention managers who travel between stores overseeing the overall loss prevention department.
Loss Prevention Job Responsibilities
Employees in the loss prevention department work during open and closed hours for the store. While the store is open, they monitor through security cameras and work the floor in plain clothing, trying to catch shoplifters before they get out of the store with merchandise. Different stores have different policies on how they want to treat shoplifting and how vigorously they combat this behavior, so not all stores will have active loss prevention workers on duty at all times.
When someone is caught shoplifting, it is the job of loss prevention to stop them and bring them to a back office for questioning. This has to be done after the intent to steal has been proven, but before they actually make off with the products. Recorded footage and eyewitness of store employees and loss prevention officers is used to prove the intent of shoplifter.
Loss prevention worker will also work when the store is closed to monitor inventory. They may also do investigations into employees who are suspected of stealing or doing other dishonest business within the boundaries of the store.
Loss Prevention Training and Education Requirements
Entry level loss prevention positions typically require only a high school diploma or equivalency. Workers that want to move up to higher paid managerial positions typically go for college degrees in loss prevention, criminology, and related fields. Some workers are able to move up through promotion, but they are more likely to rise to regional levels if they so go back to school for advanced education in the field.
Once hired, workers are trained in store loss prevention policies from seasoned department workers. Every store has their own approach to loss prevention, so workers will need to adapt their behaviors on the job in accordance to store policies whenever they switch from one company to another.
Loss prevention workers have to be of upstanding moral character and need excellent communication skills. They must know how to be very subtle when patrolling a store as an undercover officer so they are not detected by shoplifters, yet they also must be forceful enough to take control of shoplifters once they are approached and detained.
Loss Prevention Salary and Wages
Entry level positions in loss prevention are typically hourly paid, and the rate tends to be at or near the minimum wage at any given time. Those that rise to managerial positions with a company can earn a more lucrative salary, but many workers never make it to that level and remain hourly paid workers. This does not mean worker are trapped into minimum wage forever. Some stores do pay more for lower level workers, and the best worker will earn raises and promotions over time which increases their pay at least a little.
It is common for stores to offer incentives when shoplifters are prevented from taking merchandise out of the store, and that can lead to higher pay for workers able to thwart a lot of criminals in the store. This is not a consistent form of income that can be depended on every pay period.
Loss Prevention Certifications
There is no government certification required to work in the loss prevention field. Degrees in related fields can be sought if desired, but there is no official test or certification that must be received by all workers in the field.
Loss Prevention Professional Associations
Employees in this field are not required to be a member of any professional association, but there are some groups that serve employees who choose to be professionally affiliated:
- Retail Loss Prevention Exchange
- Security & Loss Prevention Association
This second group is a part of the larger group, The Retail Merchants Association.