Careers in Retail: Becoming a Loss Prevention Specialist
by Jim Reams
Theft has been an ongoing and costly problem in the retail industry … probably for as long as their has been a retail industry. To minimize shoplifting by customers or unscrupulous employees, department stores and retail chains often employ loss prevention associates.
These asset protection specialists are vital members of the team and are responsible for:
- Reducing systemic shrinkage in inventory
- Identifying and preventing criminal activities externally and internally
- Working with law enforcement to investigate crimes
According to the National Retail Security Survey conducted annually by the National Retail Federation, the average loss per shoplifting incident in 2018 was $546.67, while the average loss per dishonest employee was $1,264.10. This estimated $50.6 billion impact on the industry illustrates why having a staff of well-trained asset protection specialists is a priority for retailers.
Qualifying for a career as a loss prevention specialist
Starting a career as an entry-level retail loss prevention specialist typically requires a high school degree or GED. If you're interested in building a career in loss prevention, it would be wise to earn your bachelor's degree. With a college degree, you'll qualify for more advanced positions such as recovery associate or managerial positions.
In individual states, you may be required to obtain a license to become a retail security guard. Check your state's regulations before you begin your job search. Many loss prevention associate jobs also require a background check and drug screening.
Being a loss prevention specialist requires a unique skill set, including:
- Attention to detail
- Critical thinking
- Communication skills
- Ability to remain calm in stressful situations
- Excellent judgment skills
You'll need to maintain a calm demeanor in high-pressure situations to communicate effectively with employees, management and suspected shoplifters. Loss prevention specialists must also be physically fit to apprehend suspects and subdue them if they become unruly or dangerous to other employees or customers.
Responsibilities of a loss prevention specialist
Most retail loss prevention specialists work indoors in malls or large retail stores. You may be required to wear a uniform and badge or work undercover in street clothes. You will interact with the public frequently and must prepare to encounter uncomfortable or tense situations.
Most employers provide training for loss prevention positions. Employers will often have a new hire shadow an experienced loss prevention specialist for a period of time. This training period can range from a few shifts to a week or more. During training, you'll learn daily routines, store policies, and the skills required to prevent shrinkage and theft.
Specific job requirements for loss prevention specialists include:
- Identifying theft and suspicious behavior using surveillance cameras and personal observation
- Apprehending and detaining suspected shoplifters
- Conducting investigations on employees suspected of theft
- Writing reports and case studies on loss incidents
- Training retail staff on the latest loss prevention techniques
- Working with law enforcement to solve major theft cases
- Testifying in court when necessary
As a loss prevention specialist, your analytical skills will be a tremendous asset. Possessing sound analytical and judgment skills will set you apart as a successful asset protection specialist.
Kick-starting your loss prevention career
As you build your resume for a loss prevention specialist role, Resume Templates to highlight your professional or volunteer experience in:
- Analyzing and evaluating complex situations
- Law enforcement
Many police departments across the country offer ride-along programs. Ask your local precinct if you can participate in their program. This initiative will make you a more attractive candidate to employers. You should also obtain your loss prevention certification through the Loss Prevention Foundation.
Get the ball rolling
The retail industry is growing and shows no signs of slowing down. Securing a job as a retail loss prevention specialist is the first step to a rewarding and exciting career.
You need to craft a resume and cover letter that showcase your skills and experience. When writing your resume, keep in mind that many employers now use applicant tracking systems (ATS) to review resumes. These systems automatically scan resumes to find relevant keywords that align with their job description. Be sure to include the most prominent keywords from the job description in your resume.
Our Resume Builder provides step-by-step instructions on how create a resume that's tailored to suit the particular job you want. List any experience that relates to loss control, using specific examples whenever possible.
Another way to increase your chances of snagging an interview is by including a persuasive cover letter. This is your opportunity to convince the hiring manager that you're the right person for the job through your experience, skills and passion for the retail industry. Our Cover Letter Templates lets you present your highlights in a professional format.