Theft prevention security involves protecting businesses and organizations from losses caused by theft, such as shoplifting. Learn what education and training is required for this career, and get more info about job duties and the employment outlook.
Security workers in theft prevention will monitor and patrol the business premises to make sure shoppers and employees do not steal merchandise. Theft prevention workers are sometimes referred to as security guards, investigators or loss prevention agents. Theft prevention guards are sometimes stationed in a specific location and at other times walk around and monitor all areas of a store. Loss prevention security agents should not be afraid to confront people and be able to pay close attention to detail. Writing and oral communication skills are commonly used in this occupation.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that security guards made a median annual income of $24,070 in 2013, and private investigators made $46,250 (www.bls.gov). The BLS expected investigators and security guards to experience average job growth compared to all occupations from 2012-2022. Theft prevention workers can advance to positions such as loss prevention supervisor and security manager. These opportunities for advancement plus the faster-than-average job growth in the field might be additional reasons for you to consider entering the field of theft prevention security.
There are no specific employment requirements for working in theft prevention security, but most employers prefer applicants who have a high school diploma. Higher ranked investigators for large companies usually have at least a bachelor's degree. Most loss prevention agents are trained by their employer, where training can last from a few weeks to several months.
If you want to increase your job opportunities or work as a theft prevention manager, a degree in criminal justice or political science is usually preferred by employers. A bachelor's degree in criminal justice can teach you about crime control procedures and give you an understanding of criminal activity. Criminal justice programs offer specialized course topics such as social, developmental and personality psychology, urban affairs and minority groups.
Security guards normally need to be licensed in the state they work in. Security licensing includes a background check and satisfactory completion of an exam after completing classroom instruction. Licensing requirements for investigators are extensive in some states, and do not exist in others. It is important for you to find out the licensing requirements in the states you might work in, since they are so diverse.
Obtaining a certification is usually not required, but it can increase your job prospects and validate your skills to potential employers. The Certified Protection Professional can be useful if you are working in loss prevention security. You need to have nine years of security experience or hold a bachelor's degree and have seven years of security experience (three of which must be supervisory) to obtain this designation.