Forged bank notes, counterfeit designer watches, faulty fireworks, 'spiked' foods, a pint of beer that's not a pint, holidays that don't match the travel agent's description - all are part of the work for trading standards officers and others working in the consumer protection area.
Trading standards officers make sure that our rights as consumers are protected and that basic safety and legal conditions are met. Government Acts such as the Sale of Goods Act, Consumer Protection Act and the General Product Safety Regulations are all enforceable by law and are there to protect us when we buy, sell and take part in transactions as a part of our daily lives.
Example areas of study
The following list is intended as a guide to the topics that you may be able to study in consumer protection and trading standards courses .It is important to check the course content with the institutions themselves before you submit your application.
- Consumer protection law and enforcement
- English and European legislation
- Trading standards in action
- Law of food, agriculture and animal welfare
- Product law
- Fair trading law
- Product safety and design
- Consumer credit
- Applied science
- Metrology (weighing and measuring technology)
- Quality management, quality control and quality assurance
- Advice provision
- Consumer behaviour, advice and education
- Weights and measures
- The trading environment
- Management and communication
- Research methods
- Work experience
Some career possibilities
Some of the courses listed below give graduates exemptions from the academic parts of the professional examinations needed to qualify as trading standards officers and it may be possible to get sponsorship from local authorities. Graduates from courses accredited by the Trading Standards Institute can apply for trainee trading standards officer posts with local authorities.
Other career areas that you might like to consider include consumer advice, food quality management, consumer education and product development, product quality control work with companies in the private sector, consumer advisory and education work, journalism and the broadcasting media.
What do I need to get on a course?
The entry requirements for these courses vary because there are both degrees and foundation degrees on offer. The lower grades listed represent the requirements for foundation degrees and the higher for degrees. As ever, it is always important to check the exact requirements with the institutions that you wish to apply to. The list below is intended as a guide:
- UCAS Tariff: 120 - 200 points including a science subject and sometimes mathematics
- A-level: DD - BB including a science subject and sometimes mathematics
- SQA Highers: CDDD - BCCC including a science subject
- SQA Advanced Highers: DD - BB including a science subject and sometimes mathematics
- International Baccalaureate: 28 points including science subjects
- BTEC National Diploma: PP - MM in a relevant subject
For your application or interview, evidence of the following could be useful:
- Work shadowing of a trading standards officer working in towns or in rural areas, or work experience in local authority trading standards offices
- Active interest in consumer affairs - for example, articles you have read about faulty goods, product recalls, dangerous imported toys, school projects on consumer-related issues
- Further information is available from the Trading Standards Institute
To find out more about the typical subjects you will study, potential career paths and further information useful for your application log-on to Course Discover at www.coursediscoveronline.co.uk*
*NB: Your school or college will need a subscription to Course Discover in order for you to gain access, for further information go to:www.coursediscover.co.uk