College Degree Crucial to Promotion in Field of Loss Prevention

By Christie Bleck

               Learning about the legal issues within the loss prevention field will still be only a click away.

               Tina Sellers's online Northern Michigan University course, "Legal Aspects of Loss Prevention," is an overview of the legal rights, responsibilities and major threats that face the loss prevention profession.

                LPM 342 will include analysis of law, court decisions and current legislation affecting the industry. The course will be offered this fall.

                A loss prevention professional can and is expected to learn on the job, but the field changes so much it takes a good deal of education to stay current.

                "These days, when you're hiring, you're looking for someone with a degree," Sellers said.

                Sellers has plenty of experience in the field. She was a member of the National Advisory Council for the National Retail Federation and held a leadership position with the Retail Industry Leaders Association. She is director of loss prevention at Delhaize America in Salisbury, N.C., and is responsible for loss prevention functions at Food Lion, Hanneford and Bottom Dollar Foods.

                Robert Hanson, NMU associate professor and loss prevention coordinator, said, "Tina is widely known and well respected in the industry. She brings expertise and insight to this subject that is an essential part of the competencies required of the modern loss prevention professional."

                Loss prevention is not static, Hanson stressed.

                "We regularly update our course materials to reflect the best practices of the profession," he said. "We are fortunate to have someone of Tina's caliber revising this important course in our curriculum. "

                A description of Sellers's  course should convince anyone there's a lot involved in loss prevention.

                "Loss prevention as a profession is more than just retail," said Sellers, who lives near Dallas and holds a bachelor's degree in public law and government from Eastern Michigan University and a jurisprudence degree from the University of Toledo College of Law.  "We take a very business-minded approach."

                Today's loss-prevention specialist, Sellers said, is not just worried about nabbing a shoplifter after the fact. Now the specialist is proactive -- for example, sitting in on business meetings, looking at the way products are displayed in a store and making suggestions.  Employees also need to know how to transfer products between stores and keep a proper count.

                Sellers said NMU's loss prevention degree program is an excellent way for criminal justice students to learn about the topic and for current loss prevention professionals to earn the degree they need for promotion.

                Sellers acknowledges some criminal-justice students believe they're going to be police officers after they graduate. Loss prevention, she said, can be a more non-lethal part of the justice system.

                Education plays an essential role in a person wishing to enter the field of loss prevention.  A recent independent survey of senior loss prevention executives at 92 companies showed 74 percent stated earning a baccalaureate degree was important in furthering an individual's opportunity for promotion at the corporate and district/regional levels. Eighty percent said they'd be more likely to hire a new employee with a relevant bachelor's degree over another employee without one, assuming they had a comparable experience level. A total of 65 percent of respondents said they'd be likely to promote a degreed employee over another without one, and 53 percent knew someone who missed a promotion because of a lack of a degree.

                 "Legal Aspects of Loss Prevention" is one of 13 loss prevention specific courses offered by NMU.  The loss prevention management bachelor’s program is a 124-credit degree than combines loss prevention, criminal justice, computer and computer networking,  as well as business classes.  The program can be taken completely online.  For more information on NMU's bachelor of science program in loss prevention management, call the NMU Criminal Justice Department at 906-227-2660 or visit www.nmu.edu/LP.