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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.

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Do I Want to Be 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.

Job Requirements

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. The following table reflects the details for entering this occupation:

Common Requirements
Degree Level None needed*
Licensure and/or Certification Some states require loss prevention agents to be licensed as security guards**
Experience None required (entry level)***
Key Skills Critical thinking, interpersonal communication, honesty*
Computer Skills Word processing, spreadsheet and database software****

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

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.

Success Tip:

  • 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.

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Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics