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Trading standards officers check that products and services are safe and that they comply with the law.

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

Trading standards officers (TSOs) help protect the public against unsafe goods and illegal sales practices. They check whether products are safe and labelled correctly and investigate whether traders are following the law. If not, TSOs can take action, including taking 'rogue traders' to court.

Typical responsibilities include:

  • checking that products, services and equipment match advertised specifications and comply with quality standards
  • writing reports
  • visiting shops, farms, food outlets and other places where goods are sold
  • providing advice to the public
  • compiling records
  • gathering prosecution evidence
  • investigating complaints, sometimes through undercover or surveillance work
  • serving legal notices
  • providing evidence in court.

Typical employers of trading standards officers

  • Local authorities

Vacancies are advertised on local authorities' websites and on local and national job sites. The Chartered Trading Standards Institute (CTSI) also advertises roles around the country.

Qualifications and training required

It’s possible to become a trading standards officer with or without a university degree, although law or any degree with modules in consumer protection may support your application.

The usual entry route to this career is via a trainee trading standards officer post with a local authority. You can then study on the job towards the qualifications you need to progress. You need specialist training to become a trading standards officer. The Chartered Trading Standards Institute runs this training, which covers topics such as consumer law and product safety. Work experience in law, business, advice or customer service will help strengthen your application.

Key skills for trading standards officers

Recruiters look for people with an eye for detail and who can stay calm in stressful situations. Other essential skills and qualities include:

  • confidence
  • persistence
  • maturity
  • diplomacy
  • excellent interpersonal skills
  • good written and spoken communication skills.

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In Partnership

This content has been written or sourced by AGCAS, the Association of Graduate Careers Advisory Services, and edited by TARGETjobs as part of a content partnership. AGCAS provides impartial information and guidance resources for higher education student career development and graduate employment professionals.

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