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Trading standards officers are responsible for monitoring, promoting and maintaining safe and fair trading standards and for enforcing legislation that protects both the consumer and the law-abiding trader alike.
It is possible to become a trading standards officer (TSO) both with or without a degree.

What does a trading standards officer do? Typical employers | Qualifications and training | Key skills

Trading standards officers check that products, services and equipment match advertised specifications and comply with quality standards.

Other responsibilities include:

  • writing reports
  • compiling records
  • gathering prosecution evidence
  • investigating complaints
  • managing junior staff
  • serving legal notices
  • providing evidence in court

A large amount of time is spent away from the office meeting consumers and visiting premises such as shops, farms, food outlets, pubs, markets, importers, manufacturers and warehouses.

Typical employers of trading standards officers

  • Local authorities
  • Chartered Trading Standards institute (CTSI)
  • Advertising Standards Authority (ASA)

Advertisements for training places normally appear in newspapers and publications such as Opportunities and theMunicipal Journal. Trading Standards Today contains details of opportunities for qualified staff. Many jobs are only ever advertised locally, so speculative applications are advisable (the directory Municipal Journal contains relevant contact details).

Qualifications and training required

It is possible to become a trading standards officer (TSO) both with or without a degree.

For graduates, a degree in any discipline is acceptable, although a degree in law or consumer protection might make you exempt from some of the professional examinations needed to become a TSO. The Chartered Trading Standards Institute (CTSI) publishes a list of accredited university courses and rules for exemption on its website.

School leavers can apply for work at a local authority as a trainee TSO. You can then combine work and study to gain professional qualifications while being employed. The minimum academic requirements for entry into the profession are normally five GCSEs (grades A-C) including a B in maths, although some employers may also ask for two A-levels, or the equivalent.

While previous work experience is not always necessary, it can be beneficial to have experience in legal and advice work.

Key skills for trading standards officers

  • Confidence
  • Maturity
  • Diplomacy
  • Excellent interpersonal skills
  • Verbal communication skills

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