Trading standard officers (TSOs) check up on firms to make sure they are not breaking any trade laws. Enforcement or fair trading officers support them in this work.
As a trading standards officer you would ensure that traders keep to a wide range of laws in the following areas:
weights and measures
You could be:
making visits, possibly undercover, to businesses, such as factories, markets, pubs and night clubs
checking that the managers are not breaking the law in the areas listed above
giving advice to businesses about legislation and advising consumers about their rights
investigating suspected offences and complaints about fraudulent practices
checking that weights and measures are accurate
making sure that product labelling is correct and advertising is not misleading
taking away samples of goods to test in the laboratory
writing reports and keeping records
if a case comes to court, appearing as a witness.
The figures below are only a guide. Actual pay rates may vary, depending on:
where you work
the size of company or organisation you work for
the demand for the job.
The average starting salary for a trainee trading standards officer is in the range of £18,000 to £24,000 a year. Salaries for qualified trading standards officers are up to around £35,000 a year. Senior trading standards officers may earn around £35,000 to £50,000 a year, with supervisors and managers earning more.
You will work in an office, but will drive about a lot visiting other premises.
You would work between 35 and 38 hours a week, Monday to Friday.
You will sometimes work in the evenings and at weekends.
You could get into a junior position by completing the Modern Apprenticeship in Regulatory Studies, then go on to do the professional qualifications.
To be a professional trading standards officer you would apply for a trainee TSO post and work through the qualifications framework set by the Chartered Trading Standards Institute (CTSI).
Entry requirements vary, ranging from 3 Highers up to degree (SCQF Levels 9-10) level. Entry level depends on qualifications and experience.
There are two main levels of qualification within the framework – Core Skills and Diploma in Consumer Affairs and Trading Standards.
The new Trading Standards Practitioner Diploma (TSPD) qualification will form part of the CTSI Professional Competency Framework (CPCF).
For details on other courses which may be similarly accredited contact the CTSI.
You will probably need a driving licence.
The CTSI website also advertises relevant job vacancies.
Jobs are available in local authorities and private industries such as food manufacture, retailing or quality control and management.
What Does it Take?
You should be:
strongly committed to protecting consumers' rights
tactful and patient
able to work alone
able to stay calm and resilient in difficult situations
willing to make unpopular decisions.
good planning and organisational skills
excellent communication skills with people from all backgrounds
good observational and analytical skills
good number skills to use weighing and measuring equipment and deal with statistics
good writing skills to produce reports and prepare cases
IT skills to keep accurate notes and records.
Training is on the job combined with part time study toward CTSI qualifications.
You would keep your skills and knowledge up to date through CTSI's continuous professional and personal development scheme (CPPD).
You can later go into self-employment as a consultant.
You can go for promotion to senior officer, section head or divisional officer, then assistant, deputy and chief trading standards officer. You might have to move to other parts of the country for this.