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So how do you train to become a Trading Standards Professional? There are a number of career routes….

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Trading Standards professionals investigate unfair trading and illegal business activity, like rogue traders and scams.

Trading Standards can take businesses to court or stop them operating. They are often found in councils, government departments and business compliance teams, mainly in manufacturing and retail. If this sounds like the job for you read on.

Trading standards professionals are typically office based, home based and work in organisations where goods and services are designed, produced, stored, distributed, promoted, and sold. Where-ever there is an organisation that needs to comply with consumer protection legislation and regulatory requirements you’ll find a trading standards professional. This is particularly true where the organisation has a duty or responsibility to comply with standards, specifications or legal requirements.

You’ll find yourself working to identify and reduce the harm done when a business makes misleading claims about a product or service. This can include claims about the environmental benefits of a product that are grossly inaccurate. A practice known as green washing. Trading Standards Professionals help ensure safe, fair, and legal marketplaces. In fact they are not just about closing down businesses that are rogue traders, they are also helping honest businesses that make good products to high standards succeed. Often you’ll work autonomously providing highly specialist legal and technical expertise. Your advice and guidance is key to ensuring effective consumer protection.

Trading Standards Professionals are trained to have high levels of legislative knowledge coupled to enforcement and investigative skills. That’s because you’ll be leading and managing inspections as well as ensuring a business’ compliance with consumer protection legislation. You’ll be enforcing any improvements that need to be made by a business to meet the legislation.

You’ll find Trading Standard Professionals in both the private and public sector. In the public sector they ensure consumers are protected. They working with businesses advising them how to be compliant or taking formal action to ensure compliance with consumer protection and trading standards law. In the private sector they help create a fair-trading environment by ensuring the relevant laws are complied with.

The wide range of sectors you could expect to work in are: Animal Health, Fair Trading, Feed & Agriculture, Food Standards, Hallmarking, Intellectual Property, Petroleum & Explosives, Environmental Climate Change, Product Safety, Weights, and Measures.

Expect to handle sensitive and confidential documents and work with internal and external partners as well as acting as a liaison officer between the service and other organisations. You’ll also be responsible for: developing and managing staff; legal compliance; safety compliance; quality and risk management systems; managing auditing systems and implementing outcomes. You’ll also need a commercial mind-set and be able to work without high levels of supervision. You’re likely to report to senior stakeholders.

So how do you train to become a Trading Standards Professional?

There are a number of career routes. The first is to study a degree in any subject at University. However you’ll be better placed if you have a degree in law or consumer protection as this will reduce some of the professional exams you need to take later. These professional qualifications are taken through the Chartered Trading Standards Institute.

The second route is an apprenticeship. The latest apprenticeship standard is for a Trading Standards Professional and is a Level 6 Higher Apprenticeship. You need 4 or 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C) and A levels, or equivalent to apply for this apprenticeship.

The other route is to apply to be an enforcement officer with a local authority then join a trading standards training programme. Your employer would support you to qualify through training. Again the local authority will want you to have 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C), including maths. Some authorities might also want you to have 2 A levels. You’ll find it useful to have experience of legal, retail or advice work.

If you are looking to give yourself a competitive advantage when you apply for whichever route you chose, try get some work experience in legal, retail or advice work. Some local councils might offer work experience or internships in trading standards in departments like environmental health.