What Does Loss Prevention Specialist Do?

Learn About the Salary, Required Skills, & More

A day in the life of a loss prevention specialist: Safely apprehend and detain potential shoplifters, pose as shoppers, covertly monitor suspicious behaviors, notify police so law enforcement officers can make an arrest

The Balance / Bailey Mariner

Most major retailers employ loss prevention specialists to combat the problem of theft by both shoplifters and employees. These specialized units provide security for the stores, prevent theft of merchandise from would-be shoplifters, and apprehend dishonest employees.

Loss prevention specialists are a vital part of any successful retail enterprise as they help to minimize the harmful effects of retail theft. Unscrupulous employees and less-than-honorable shoppers account for nearly $7 billion in losses from retail theft each year.

Loss Prevention Specialist Duties & Responsibilities

People who work in loss prevention employ a number of tactics to reduce the amount of theft in stores.

Covertly monitor suspicious individuals by posing as shoppers or monitoring video feeds in a control room.

  • Stage investigations and stings on retail employees suspected of committing theft or fraud at their own store.
  • Safely apprehend and detain potential shoplifters.
  • Notify police so law enforcement officers can make an arrest.
  • Work with detectives and criminal investigators to solve incidents of major thefts or other high profile retail crimes.
  • Provide court testimony.

Loss prevents specialists work closely with both store management and law enforcement. When a shoplifter or employee is caught stealing, the specialist may be asked to write a supplemental report or a witness statement for police.

Loss Prevention Specialist Salary

Entry-level salaries in loss prevention often start at or just above minimum wage.

  • Median Annual Salary: $35,680 ($17.15/hour)
  • Top 10% Annual Salary: More than $56,500 ($27.16/hour)
  • Bottom 10% Annual Salary: Less than $23,500 ($11.30/hour)

There is significant potential for advancement in this field, so you can expect your earnings to increase with training and experience.

Education, Training & Certification

This occupation doesn't require any particular education, but you will need some training.

Education: A high school diploma or GED is usually sufficient for entry-level positions. An associate or bachelor's degree can aid career advancement to a supervisory position.

Training: Most employers provide their own extensive training and orientation.

Experience: Many loss prevention managers come from law enforcement backgrounds.

Most employers also require that you pass a background check.

Loss Prevention Specialist Skills & Competencies

You'll need several skills and qualities to succeed at becoming a loss prevention specialist.

  • Communications skills: You must keep your supervisors and store managers informed of your activities, as well as interact with employees to alert them to possible problems.
  • Calm demeanor: You must be able to deal with people who might become emotional or angry when confronted and do your best to diffuse such situations.
  • Observation skills: A major component of the job involves watching shoppers, identifying suspicious behaviors, and taking appropriate actions.
  • Physical fitness: You might be called upon to defend yourself and others if a suspected shoplifter becomes violent or resistant upon apprehension.

Job Outlook

The need for loss prevention specialists will continue as retail theft continues to be a major source of lost revenue for stores. Growth in the specialization is largely tied to growth in the retail industry. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics anticipates 6% growth in this field from 2016 through 2026, which is about average.

Work Environment

Loss prevention specialists primarily work indoors in major retail stores. They often wear civilian clothes to blend in with other shoppers, but they might also wear uniforms or carry some other form of identification, such as a badge, to identify them as store security. Your time might be divided between surveilling via closed-circuit cameras and in the aisles.

Some people may become violent or attempt to flee when confronted by retail security personnel. Loss prevention specialists can potentially become injured in any confrontation or chase that may ensue. Most loss prevention specialists will seek police intervention as soon as possible as a means of protecting themselves and others because their authority is limited.

Work Schedule

This job requires working retail hours, which include weekends, evenings, and some minor holidays. Eight-hour shifts with rotating schedules are common.

How to Get the Job


Certification isn't usually required but it can add immeasurably to your resume. The Loss Prevention Foundation (LPF) offers education and certification.


Consider joining the Loss Prevention Industry Professionals Association (LPIPA) for networking opportunities.


Keep up with trends and innovations in the industry for the best chance of advancement. is a must. Another benefit of joining the LPIPA is that you can gain more information about the industry, as well as useful skills and knowledge.

Comparing Similar Jobs

Some similar jobs and their median annual pay include: 

  • Police officer: $63,380
  • Correctional officer/bailiff: $44,400
  • Firefighter: $49,620

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2018