A compliance officer is responsible for making sure a business is following outside regulatory requirements for its financial and organizational activities along with internal company policies. He or she may oversee a outside company communications and create email disclaimers, or inspect a company’s facility to be sure working conditions are safe and that no laws are being broken. Compliance officers create and revise a company’s internal policies in order to mitigate the possibility of inadvertently breaking regulations and laws.
A compliance officer for a large to mid-size company must at least hold a bachelor's degree in a business related field. Employers favor candidates with master's or doctorates in areas including accounting, auditing, or regulatory affairs. Senior or chief compliance officers may hold a law degree and/or professional certifications including certified public accountant (CPA) or certified internal auditor (CIA). Compliance officers in corporate or health care industries can earn compliance and ethics certification through the Compliance Certification Board.
According to the Robert Half 2013 Salary Guide, the average national starting salary for a compliance officer for a large corporate accounting company ranges from $102,750 to $138,250, while the average salary at a small company ranges from $76,500 to $101,000. Compliance officers are employed across many industries, including government, corporate, health, insurance, and energy. Starting salaries will vary depending on the industry and size of the business or organization. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported in May 2012 that the states with the highest levels of employment for compliance officers were California, Texas, and New York.
Projected to grow 27% between 2010 and 2020, according to the BLS.
Compliance officers provide a necessary function to nearly every kind of business, in-demand by a wide range of organizations to help employers operate within the appropriate external laws and regulations. The formation of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), as well as the emergence of new federal financial regulations, has led to an increased need for qualified compliance officers in recent years. According to the BLS, nearly half of all compliance-related jobs are in finance and insurance, and nearly a quarter of the remaining employees working in the federal government (excluding the postal service) sector. Under new laws recently implemented in the U.S. intended to protect consumers and impose stricter checks-and-balances systems on a more inclusive group of corporations, the demand for compliance officers who are up-to-speed on the latest developments is expected to grow through the year 2020. Specifically, highly qualified compliance officers with advanced experience and education are eligible for top jobs in federal government.
Compliance officers are required to satisfy and regularly renew continuing education requirements in order to stay on top of the latest developments in the field. After achieving the certified regulatory compliance manager (CRCM) credential, compliance officers must complete 60 course credit hours of continuing education every three years to maintain their certification. As opposed to a specific compliance officer program, some schools offer courses in advanced accounting, laws and regulations, ethics, and financial compliance methods, through their business or finance departments. The American Bankers' Association website offers information about how to complete the continuing education and corporate experience that is necessary to become a certified compliance officer. In most banks, as well as corporate and federal government jobs, compliance officers with advanced education and experience may have the best chance to achieve a high-ranking position.