There are several online programs in loss prevention, loss prevention management, or the related field of criminal justice at the associate's and bachelor's degree levels. In both types of degree programs, most or all courses can be taken online at the student's convenience. An associate's degree program requires two years of full-time study, while a bachelor's degree program takes four years.
Students at both degree levels must complete general education courses covering topics such as social studies, science, and English. Courses at the associate's degree level focus on the basics of loss prevention and may include criminal investigation techniques, security systems in a retail environment, and writing incident reports. Bachelor's degree programs include these topics, as well. A bachelor's degree program also may cover more advanced topics, such as human resource issues and biometric identity authentication measures.
Associate's Degree in Loss Prevention
Loss prevention specialists often have at least an Associate of Applied Science in Criminal Justice or Loss Prevention. They are able to work in variety of places, such as shopping malls, hospitals, and theme parks. Loss prevention specialists are responsible for the monitoring of store merchandise, maintaining of working security systems and procedures in retail or corporate environments, writing incident reports, and notifying the proper authorities about losses and related incidents when needed. Further education may be required for those interested in career advancement to management positions.
Program Information and Requirements
Students will typically devote two years to an associate's degree program. Students need a computer and Internet access to participate in online courses. Student work is monitored through a course management system and communication with instructors and fellow students is typically conducted by e-mail.
Courses in an associate's degree program focus on loss prevention as well as the broader topic of criminal justice. They cover a variety of theoretical and practical information, such as criminal investigative theory, interrogation techniques, and the basics of retail security.
Contemporary Theories and Practices in Criminal Investigation
This course gives students a thorough overview of contemporary procedures and theories in criminal investigation and an introduction to felony-level crime scene investigation. Students develop essential skills in using scientific detection methods, interviewing witnesses and persons of interest, and surveying a crime scene for possible evidence.
Basics of Interrogation and Interviewing
Gleaning pertinent information from witnesses and suspects through conversation and observation is a crucial ability in loss prevention work. In addition to practicing interviewing skills, students explore the legal limits of interrogation and how to deliver courtroom testimony regarding the results of their investigation. They are also introduced to interrogation techniques appropriate to certain personality types, like sociopaths or psychopaths, who may present special interview circumstances.
Retail Security Practices and Principles
Students look at loss prevention from a retail business perspective. Shoplifting tricks and behaviors are a topic of discussion. Other focal points are losses attributed to shipping and accounting errors. Students discuss and formulate possible prevention methods.
Bachelor's Degree in Loss Prevention Management
An online Bachelor of Science in Loss Prevention Management prepares students for careers as loss prevention managers and agents. Loss prevention managers are intricately involved in the gathering and analyzing of information, fact verification, and questioning of individuals involved in incidents of loss or theft. Responsibilities may include development of corporate loss prevention programs. Loss prevention agents are responsible for the security and safeguarding of retail merchandise, the reporting and resolution of breaches of security, testifying in court when necessary, and property inspection.
Program Information and Requirements
A bachelor's degree program will typically take up to four years to complete. A computer and Internet access is required for online instruction. Online students learn through traditional text-based lessons and online presentations through a course management system. Students are able to communicate with instructors and other students through e-mail, message boards, and chat rooms.
In addition to major-specific courses, students must complete general education requirements in subjects like English, mathematics, and history. Core course topics cover investigative procedures, biometric authentication methods, legal issues relevant to loss prevention activities, and asset protection.
Loss Prevention and the Law
Students receive a solid background in legal issues concerning loss prevention. Students learn how to effectively tailor investigations to different situations and settings as well as the impact business operations and regulations, civil rights, and employment laws on investigations.
Introduction to Biometric Identity Authentication Methods
The use of biometric identity verification in loss prevention and the benefits and limitations of biometric identification systems are the focal point of the course. Students learn how technology can be used to identify a person through distinctive features in a person's voice, retina, fingerprints, DNA, and facial structure.
Human Resource Issues in Loss Prevention
Students study loss prevention from a management point of view and its impact on the corporate management structure. Through the study of modern and classic management theories, aspiring managers, and supervisors learn successful loss prevention strategies.
Students with an associate's degree may continue their education at the bachelor's degree level. Some state may have licensing requirements depending on the career path chosen by graduates of loss prevention and related degree programs. Background checks are usually a part of the employment process. The U. S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), in its report on private detectives and investigators, attributes an increase in global business and use of the Internet in creating a need for more trained security personnel to deal with new threats, such as copyright infringement, online harassment and fraudulent e-mail activity (www.bls.gov).
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that employment for private detectives and investigators, which generally includes loss prevention professionals, was expected to rise by 5% between 2014-2024 (www.bls.gov). Also in 2015, the median salary for careers in the field was $45,610 per year.
While a bachelor's degree is usually sufficient for employment, some students continue their education and obtain a master's degree. In the event a loss prevention job requires carrying firearms, job candidates may be required to obtain additional education and licensing, although laws vary by state.
Loss prevention associate's and bachelor's degrees are available in online formats, combining basic investigative work and related skills with general education courses. Master's degrees are available for bachelor's graduates, and many states will require students to earn licensure if their job mandates they carry a firearm.