How to Become a Compliance Officer

How to Become a Compliance OfficerThe responsibility of a compliance officer is to review the actions of organizations and businesses to ensure they are operating within the statues of federal and state laws in regards to such areas as licensing, insurance, training and taxes.

In the world of business today, compliance to federal and state regulations is a major concern, especially when it comes to such industries as banking, healthcare, securities, environmental agencies, etc.  Compliance officers may be hired directly by a business or organization or may work for an external agency contracted by businesses to get the job done.

The compliance field offers a diversity of opportunities within the business community. Individuals interested in establishing a career in compliance will need extensive training and education to execute the responsibilities of their profession.

Most entry level industry positions require that job candidates have a minimum of a Bachelor’s degree in business or related fields; a Master’s degree, however, may give you an edge over your competition.

Job Potential

Knowing the future job potential for the career you want to study can help you make good choices when pursuing your educational goals. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the employment growth for compliance officers is expected to rise by 15% from 2010 to 2020, creating an opening for approximately 32,000 new jobs and approximately 26,000 replacement jobs for the future.

According to BLS figures, the average salary for a compliance officer in 2011 was approximately $60,700. However, salaries can range anywhere between $35,000 and $96,000, depending on your employer, job location, educational background and experience. Jobs within the oil and gas industry, postal services and financial services paid the most.

Educational Requirements

The next step towards completing your objective is to acquire the education and training for your career. A Bachelor’s degree in Business, Finance, Accounting or Law is a must for a future compliance officer.

Some industries such as bank compliance may require a Master’s Degree in Business (MBA), Master’s of Finance or Master’s of Accounting. A graduate degree will give you the additional skills in finance, business operations and business ethics you need to handle the ever increasing responsibilities of this profession.

Your success in the compliance profession will depend a great deal on the extent of your education and your mastery of compliance skills. This profession requires that you demonstrate leadership, communications, decision making, writing and public speaking skills. Compliance officers must be:

  • Detail oriented as the job requires reviewing and analyzing large quantities of data.
  • Knowledgeable about the way federal and state regulations operate and have the ability to interpret information properly in order to make correct assessments on compliance issues.
  • Well informed about industries and their occupations and the regulations that pertain to them.

Practical Training

During the course of your studies, you would do well to obtain practical training via part time jobs or compliance related internships. If you are fortunate enough to land an internship, it could be a great boost to your career. On the job training enables you to accrue valuable experience, knowledge about different industries and important skills that you will use in your future career.

Job Opportunities

Once you have completed your education, it’s time to look for permanent job pportunities that meet with your training. Don’t discount entry level positions as they offer opportunities to work with top employers, gain much needed practical training and experience, establish a professional network and even earn professional certification for your profession.

After about five years of experience, you can apply for executive level compliance positions to advance in your career.

Compliance is a competitive yet challenging field that offers great potential for the future. It requires an investment of time and effort to get established in this field, but once established, there are many opportunities to develop a prosperous and stable career.

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