Understanding the role that loss prevention certification plays in the evolution of the industry and the development of the loss prevention professional has been a topic of many discussions over the past several years, both in the corporate offices of retail giants across the globe and in the homes of industry practitioners looking to establish their place and build a future for themselves and their families. But what exactly is loss prevention certification? What does it mean to be certified, why is it important, and how can it enhance your loss prevention career?
In general terms, certification is a means to assess the knowledge, skills and experience necessary to perform a specific role based on predetermined standards. A designation that must be earned, certification is a formal process designed to validate that an individual possesses a knowledge base and understanding of the core subject areas—or competencies—required for someone to be proficient and perform at a high level within their profession.
The Changing Face of the Business
Over the years, retail loss prevention has gone through a significant progression in terms of roles and responsibilities. Even the way we manage and execute fundamental tasks has changed, offering a more academic and professional approach to the mission of the department. Today’s loss prevention professional must be more in line with the goals of the business and the culture of the specific retailer. We have become more directly a part of today’s business model with a greater function in the overall success of the retail company, and that must be reflected in everything we do.
Every retailer handles these responsibilities a little differently based on the needs of the particular company. While many tasks are relatively the same, the approach to those responsibilities can vary from retailer to retailer to best fit the needs and culture of the organization. Some skill sets that require a high level of professional expertise to appropriately execute. There are functions that require a high level of training and instruction. But there are also significant consequences when results don’t support the best interests of multi-billion-dollar corporations. Certain tasks hold significant liabilities if mismanaged. Others can influence our customer base and impact the company brand. All of this demands a superior level of competency that must transcend a singular outcome and fit the broader needs of the retail industry.
This is why loss prevention certification is essential to the future of the retail business model. We can no longer afford to have a “one foot in” mentality to the profession. Our leadership and our future command a focused effort to build professional excellence throughout the industry.
Setting the Bar
The certification process is not intended to render someone an expert in every aspect of a professional discipline, or in all knowledge or performance areas within a professional field. Loss prevention certification should not attempt to cover every single topic or responsibility that might exist across the vast spectrum retail opportunities. Rather, it is a way to verify that the individual commands the knowledge, information, and understanding necessary to perform at a standard commonly accepted within and throughout the industry. Both those core competencies and standards of performance have been established by industry leadership and subject matter experts from across the retail loss prevention community to represent the needs and expectations of the profession.
As an industry, we have a responsibility to set the bar high, establishing a standard that not only validates our place in today’s retail environment, but drives the profession towards a future grounded in integrity and credibility. The diverse backgrounds of our practitioners have added tremendous value to the industry over the years. But there still must be a common path—one that takes full advantage of the knowledge and experience of those who came before us and provides us with a compass for what lies ahead.
Loss Prevention Certification through the LPF
The LPQualified (LPQ) and LPCertified (LPC) offered through the Loss Prevention Foundation are college-accredited, web-accessible courses focused on advancing individual industry knowledge, growing careers, and elevating the profession. Designed and developed through the collaboration of hundreds of loss prevention leaders, business partners and academic educators, these programs set the bar, containing top competencies that global, industry leaders have identified as critical for today’s loss prevention professional.
The future of loss prevention must be built upon a foundation of knowledge and education. One look at the industry On the Move pages show that this is a growing industry trend. It’s one that will only continue to grow in prominence as we move forward. As a result, each of us has a choice to make. We can either step up and help lead the way—or we can stand on the sidelines and watch as the parade passes us by.
This article was originally published in 2016 and was updated March 15, 2017.