Compliance Officer

Job Description

business woman reading documents
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A compliance officer makes sure organizations or individuals conform to contractual obligations, government regulations, and laws. Under this broad occupational title is a group of more specific job titles including environmental compliance inspector, licensing examiner and inspector, equal opportunity representative and officer, government property inspector and investigator, coroner, and regulatory affairs specialist.

  • An environmental compliance inspector sees to it that companies are obeying federal, state and local regulations that protect the public and environment from pollution.
  • A licensing examiner or inspector determines whether individuals and companies that apply for professional licenses and business permits meet eligibility requirements and that those who already have them conform to all stipulations.
  • An equal opportunity representative or officer ensures that companies and other entities are complying with non-discrimination laws, guidelines, and policies regarding employment and contracting arrangements.
  • A government property inspector or investigator makes certain government entities comply with contractual obligations and regulations.
  • A coroner determines the cause of and responsibility for deaths within a legal jurisdiction.
  • A regulatory affairs specialist coordinates internal regulatory processes for an entity, which may include preparing documentation for submission to regulatory agencies.

    *Note: This profile does not include information about compliance officers working in the agriculture, construction, health and safety, and transportation industries.

    Quick Facts

    • Compliance officers earned a median annual salary of $66,540 (2016).
    • In 2016, approximately 288,000 people worked in this field.
    • The job outlook is expected to be good over the next decade. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment will grow as fast as the average for all occupations between 2016 and 2026.

    A Day in the Life of a Compliance Officer

    Here are some job duties you may have if you become a compliance officer. They are from job announcements found on Indeed.com:

    • "Assist management in identifying and containing compliance risk, compliance monitoring and fostering a compliance culture"
    • "Oversee assigned portfolios for compliance with guidelines, internal policies, and regulatory issues"
    • "Develop, coordinate, and execute various compliance testing and monitoring initiatives"
    • "Conduct periodic internal account/customer reviews to identify potentially suspicious activities"
    • "Review receipting information on submitted documents for accuracy, statutory, and regulatory compliance"
    • "Conduct investigations of Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) complaints"

    How to Become a Compliance Officer

    Most people who work in this occupation have bachelor's degrees related to the field in which they want to work. Employers usually provide on-the-job training.

    What Soft Skills Will You Need?

    In addition to formal and on-the-job training, the following soft skills, or personal qualities, will allow you to succeed in this occupation:

    • Communication Skills: Compliance officers need excellent listening, verbal communication, and writing skills.
    • Critical Thinking and Problem Solving: One of your greatest strengths will be your ability to recognize problems. You must then be able to identify and evaluate possible solutions in order to pick the one most likely to work.
    • Reading Comprehension: Expect to do a lot of reading. Many documents will cross your desk, and you will have to be able to understand them.

    What Will Employers Expect From You?

    Employers who placed job announcements on Indeed.com specified the following job requirements:

    • "Must have the ability to interact with numerous internal and external customers and regulatory agencies as the 'face of the business'" 
    • "Excellent organizational and follow up skills"
    • "Ability to work in a collaborative and cooperative team setting"
    • "Excellent analytical skills and attention to detail"
    • "Demonstrated high degree of work ethics, professional work habits, positive team work, and punctuality"
    • "Knowledge and demonstrated ability to use personal computers and related software applications"

    Is This Occupation a Good Fit for You?

    Your interestspersonality type, and work-related values play an important role in career satisfaction. The following traits are compatible with this occupation:

    Occupations With Related Activities and Tasks

     DescriptionAnnual Salary (2016)Educational Requirements
    Tax ExaminerMakes sure tax returns are accurate$52,060Bachelor's degree in accounting or a combination of education and experience
    Insurance Claims AdjusterInvestigates insurance claims in order to determine how much an insurer should pay$63,680High school diploma
    Financial ExaminerInvestigates whether banks and financial institutions comply with laws and regulations$79,280Bachelor's degree with coursework in accounting, finance, and economics
    Loan OfficerHelps individuals and companies obtain funds from banks and other financial institutions$63,650Bachelor's degree in economics, finance, or a related field

    Sources: Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor,  Occupational Outlook Handbook; Employment and Training Administration, U.S. Department of Labor,  O*NET Online (visited January 15, 2018).