Loss prevention managers typically work in retail stores to prevent theft, property damage, and unsafe practices by employees and customers. Loss prevention managers are responsible for keeping a company’s assets, including workers, out of danger at all times. They may work alone or supervise a team of loss prevention agents. Often, they cooperate with law enforcement agents to detain offender and report illegal activity.
Some loss prevention managers find employment with hotels or offer freelance services to clients. A broader range of clients and companies are beginning to realize the benefits of staffing effective loss prevention professionals.
Loss prevention managers are responsible for implementing and maintaining effective security programs to minimize a company’s financial losses. They must have a keen eye for detail and a thorough knowledge of criminal behavior in order to stop thefts before they occur. In retail stores, loss prevention managers monitor security cameras and inspect store grounds to protect against customer theft, vandalism, and hazardous behavior, as well as credit card and check fraud. In addition, loss prevention managers carefully investigate stockrooms and back offices to protect against employee theft. They detain shoplifters and dishonest employees, and take appropriate action as prescribed by store policies. This often involves contacting police and aiding in an investigation to make sure justice is served. Loss prevention managers must be comfortable writing reports and appearing in court when necessary.
The educational requirements to become a loss prevention manager vary among employers, though there are three basic educational paths that prospective managers might take. Many pursue a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice, while some find that an associate’s degree is sufficient to gain employment. Additionally, some loss prevention managers find work with just a high school diploma or GED.
The differences between these three educational paths are as follows:
- Bachelor degree programs in criminal justice are offered by colleges, universities, and accredited online schools. Completing a degree program at a physical college or university typically takes four years. Many online programs, however, can be completed in two years.
- Associate degree programs in criminal justice are offered by junior colleges, community colleges and accredited online schools. Depending on the school, obtaining an associate’s degree may take between one and three years.
- High school diplomas or GEDs are enough to find employment in many retail stores. Loss prevention managers often begin with a career in customer service and learn security skills on-site.
Areas of Specialization
Loss prevention managers can specialize in four different areas, though many can apply their skills and experience to become successful in other specializations. The four means of specialization are:
- By working in a small retail location, taking responsibility for all security duties.
- By managing a specific department or division of a large retail store, corresponding with prevention managers in other departments.
- By working at a hotel to ensure the safety of guests and security of property.
- By working as a freelance detective, taking loss prevention jobs by contract.
Below are general job categories for loss prevention managers:
- Retail store loss prevention specialists, who work independently to maintain security and confront offenders.
- Retail store loss prevention department supervisors, who control safety and security in a certain area of a store. They communicate with other supervisors to maintain overall security.
- Hotel detectives, who protect guests from falling victim to theft. They keep watch over who enters and exits the hotel to preserve guest safety.
- Freelance loss prevention detectives, who advertise their services to a broad range of clients. They may work temporarily in a store to identify potential security risks and advise employees on how to handle them.
- Loss prevention trainers, who teach new loss prevention specialists how to effectively create and enact security policies.
There are several career opportunities for loss prevention managers, especially those who have obtained a degree in criminal justice. Below is a list of potential career paths.
Information systems security manager
Loss prevention trainer
Retail department supervisor
Retail loss prevention specialist
Security operations supervisor
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), median annual earnings of Investigation and Security Services personnel were $33,750 in May 2006. The middle 50 percent of personnel reported earning between $24,180 and $47,740. The lowest 10 percent reported earning less than $19,720, while the highest 10 percent earned more than $64,380. This data includes figures for private investigators, who may or may not have specialized in loss prevention. Salary figures for loss prevention managers are difficult to ascertain, as compensation varies greatly between employers.
There are many professional organizations that focus on criminal justice, loss prevention management, and security systems technology. Such organizations can provide helpful information for both active and prospective loss prevention managers.
ACFS – Association of Certified Fraud Specialists
ACJS – Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences
ISMA – International Security Management Association
ISSA – Information Systems Security Association
JRSA – Justice Research and Statistics Association
NTAC – National Threat Assessment Center
SPI – Society of Professional Investigators