A Career in Loss Prevention

What comes to mind when you think of “criminal justice”? If you think of a career in law enforcement and corrections, you wouldn’t be wrong. However, you might be surprised to learn how much more there is to this line of work than putting law breakers behind bars — so much more.

By earning your criminal justice degree at the University of Cincinnati Online, you’ll have the versatility to choose from among many different career paths. In addition to law enforcement, a criminal justice career also encompasses other diverse fields in both public and private sectors such as corrections and supervision, safety and security, and the increasingly important field of loss prevention.

Loss prevention offers a wide range of job opportunities including:

  • Loss Prevention Specialist
  • Asset Protection Specialist
  • Loss Prevention Officer, Manger, or Investigator
  • Executive Asset Protection Leader
  • Loss Prevention Analyst
  • Director of Loss Prevention
  • Corporate Senior Director of Loss Prevention

What Are the Responsibilities of a Loss Prevention Specialist?

A loss prevention specialist’s job is to minimize theft on the part of both shoplifters and employees at retail locations or for an entire retail chain. From watching over sales floors to creating and implementing security and safety programs and from providing security to working with law enforcement, a career in loss prevention is an ever-expanding field that’s predicted to rise in demand, especially in a weakened economy.

Because a loss prevention specialist is tasked with protecting a company’s assets, they are conversely responsible for maintaining and improving store profitability. This is also referred to as minimizing “shrink,” or the store’s dwindling inventory because of employee or customer theft, error, or other fraudulent activity such as counterfeiting.

In fact, shrinkage has cost retailers more than $50 billion in 2018, a number which isn’t predicted to scale down any time soon. Retailers, in turn, increase their loss prevention budget every year to combat this.

A Day in the Life of a Loss Prevention Specialist

Many jobs in loss prevention require a background in criminal justice. Loss prevention investigators typically have to work when their retail place of business is open, which includes weekends and evenings. You may also have to work in more than one location, traveling from store to store.

Although the exact tasks can vary from one retailer to another, a loss prevention specialist’s job description might include:

  • Monitoring shoppers via video in a control room off the main floor.
  • Pose as an undercover shopper on the retail floor, observing suspicious individuals and/or employees.
  • Computer work including documenting incidents and investigations, or compiling loss and prevention data reports on a weekly or monthly basis.
  • Implementing new processes to reduce shrinkage.
  • Check and maintain security systems and other security prevention measures such as sensor tags and alarms.
  • Safely apprehend shoplifters and notify and work in conjunction with law enforcement.
  • Work with other branches of law enforcement to solve larger issues or crimes.
  • Testify in court.
  • Report on safety concerns

Loss Prevention Specialist Average Salaries / Job Outlook

Although you can expect your loss prevention salary to start at or above minimum wage for entry-level positions, there is ample room for advancement within the sector. Salaries for a loss prevention specialist range from $30,000-$60,000 based on industry and experience.

The loss prevention outlook for a specialist is also trending upward as theft at retail outlets remains a large source of lost revenue. Growth in the loss prevention specialist field is largely tied to growth of the retail industry in general. Plus, the more training and experience you have increases your ability to earn more in this field.

Where Do Loss Prevention Specialists Work?

Loss prevention specialists largely work indoors at retail outlets, large and small. You can work at the entrance of a store, greeting customers. Some loss prevention specialists work at customer service or at the exit of the store completing tasks such as comparing receipts of purchases with what’s in a customer’s bag or cart.

Other investigators work behind the scenes in video surveillance or they walk through the store aisles wearing normal clothing to blend in with other customers and to keep an eye out for suspicious activity.

Are you ready to get started down the exciting path of loss prevention and earn your Criminal Justice degree? Connect with an advisor to learn more about UC Online today! Or take the first step and apply now!

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