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.
Most work is found within local councils, where you’ll advise on consumer law and investigate complaints, but you can also be employed in the private sector.
- visit trading premises, e.g. pubs, petrol stations, shops, factories and markets, in order to carry out routine tests or to respond to a complaint
- carry out checks on things such as weighing machines and food labels in shops, beer and spirit measures in pubs and transport of livestock to market
- deal with traders selling faulty goods
- identify potential hazards, such as unsafe electrical goods or none-roadworthy vehicles
- check that advertisements and labels accurately describe the properties of the products
- take samples for laboratory analysis
- offer business advice to help traders comply with legislation
- investigate suspected offenses, sometimes undercover and with the police or other agencies
- present evidence at court in criminal proceedings
- give legal advice to members of the public about their consumer rights
- keep up to date with new legislation, new cases and guidance procedures
- educate consumers and businesses, which may involve giving talks to schools, businesses and various consumer and vulnerable adult groups
- write reports, statements, letters, articles and consultation documents and keep accurate records.
It is possible to become a trading standards officer (TSO) both with or without a degree. Related degrees such as law, or any subject that has elements or modules on consumer protection, may be particularly helpful.
- excellent written and oral communication skills and the ability to talk to people from many different backgrounds
- competent analytical and investigative skills and keen observation
- determination and resilience, particularly when dealing with traders who may become hostile
- attention to detail when investigating potential issues
- the ability to organize and manage projects
- the ability to work both as a part of a team and also on your own initiative
- competence in using IT and dealing with statistics for record keeping
- tact and diplomacy when dealing with investigations
- an understanding of the implications of regulation on businesses when enforcing the law.