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Degree Overview: Associate of Science (A.S.) Degree in Loss Prevention

Majors Overview December 11, 2013

Those interested in preventing theft in shopping centers and retail stores may want to look into a career as a loss prevention specialist. Students looking for preparation as a loss prevention specialist may be interested in an Associate of Science (A.S.) in criminal justice.

A.S. Programs in Criminal Justice

Students enrolled in criminal justice programs are introduced to available security technologies, current security problems, role of law enforcement, criminal law and crime. Additionally, theft prevention techniques, emergency preparedness plans and workplace safety procedures are learned by individuals pursuing courses in loss prevention. It takes about two years to complete these programs. The variety of loss prevention courses offered can vary from program to program.

Educational Requirements

Associate’s degree programs are generally offered by community colleges. Admission criteria typically require applicants to hold a GED certificate or high school diploma, in addition to the passage of college admission examinations. Prior coursework in English and math are also necessary before students are admitted into the program.


Coursework in an associate’s degree program in criminal justice combines core education courses and professional courses. General education requirements include courses in sociology, math and English. Coursework related to a criminal justice program includes topics areas such as:

•Criminal courts
•Fire investigation
•Law enforcement
•Forensic science investigation
•Crime and delinquency

Job and Wage Outlook

A job growth rate of 14% has been predicted for security guards during the decade from 2008 to 2018 (source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)). A faster than average growth rate is likely to result from increasing concerns about vandalism and violence. In August 2010, a loss prevention investigator earned an average annual wage of $32,635 (, while loss prevention managers took home $42,425.

Continuing Education

Criminal justice graduates usually continue their education by enrolling in bachelor’s degrees; however, employers in the loss prevention field don’t usually insist on candidates who hold bachelor’s degrees. The Loss Prevention Foundation offers the Industry-developed certification; this is, however, a relatively recent process. Passage of the certification test will earn candidates the LPQ designation that they may use after their names.

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