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How to Become a Loss Prevention Agent

Research the requirements to become a loss prevention agent. Learn about the job description and read the step-by-step process to start a career in loss prevention. View article »

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  • 0:00 Become a Loss Prevention Agent
  • 0:36 Career Requirements
  • 0:56 Career Steps to Follow

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Video Transcript

Become a Loss Prevention Agent

Loss prevention agents typically are employed by malls or retail stores to protect their assets from theft or damage by delivery personnel, employees, vendors and shoplifters. Tact and assertiveness are often called for in situations with potential or suspected perpetrators. These professionals may work irregular hours and spend several hours on their feet. Although a formal education is not required, aspiring loss prevention agents might benefit from a criminal justice educational program followed by on-the-job training.

Career Requirements

Education Level High school diploma or equivalent
Licensure Some states require loss prevention agents to be licensed as security guards
Experience None required
Key Skills Critical thinking and interpersonal communication skills; honesty
Salary $24,630 (2015 median for security guards)

Sources: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, State licensing websites, O Net OnLine, Job postings (October 2012)

You'll likely need a high school diploma and possibly licensure to become a loss prevention agent. Critical thinking skills, good interpersonal communication skills and honesty are also important. Security guards made a median annual salary of $24,630 in May 2015, reported the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

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Career Steps to Follow

There are some specific steps you can take to become a loss prevention agent and also seek career advancement. Now we will go through each of these.

Step 1: Attain an Education

In many cases, the minimum education needed to become a loss prevention agent is a high school diploma or its equivalent. High school courses help teach the broad concepts of problem solving, critical thinking and attention to detail, which are important in loss prevention jobs.

You can also consider a college education. Although not required in many cases, college courses or a degree in criminal justice may improve job opportunities. Many community colleges offer criminal justice programs at the associate's degree level. Students may also consider continuing their education after acquiring an associate's degree. Possessing a bachelor's degree in criminal justice or a related field could lead to career advancement opportunities for loss prevention agents. These programs also tend to offer concentrations in loss prevention and assets protection.

Step 2: Complete Job Training

Before actively working, a loss prevention agent typically goes through on-the-job training. He or she is generally paired up with an experienced agent, allowing the new loss prevention agent to learn company-specific routines and procedures. Additionally, the new agent might be required to complete a drug test and background check.

Step 3: Hone and Practice Job Skills

Loss prevention agents constantly must hone their detective and athletic skills. By regularly participating in physical fitness activities, a loss prevention agent can keep fit enough to catch fleeing suspects or disarm resistant criminals. He or she also might benefit from practicing interviewing techniques and communication skills.

Step 4: Think About Advancement Options

After working in loss prevention for a while, career advancement opportunities might come along. For example, a loss prevention agent with education and work experience might be eligible for a supervisor position, which would involve overseeing the security operations for an entire business location. Other loss prevention agents might choose to pursue careers in private investigation or law enforcement. These paths typically require additional education, training and/or licensing.

To summarize, loss prevention agents often work in malls or retail stores and a high school diploma is usually necessary.

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