what is a compliance officer?

As a compliance officer, your job is to help everyone else at your company follow the law. Businesses are subject to a wide range of regulations and guidelines, so it can be hard for individual employees to remember all the rules. This is where you come in. You fully research all relevant laws and help your company remain compliant with these laws. Your duties might include things like training other workers on legal requirements and identifying risky actions. When someone does breach a regulation, you step in to address the situation, provide disciplinary measures, and prevent it from occurring again.

is it an upper-level position?

In most offices, a compliance officer is a type of manager or supervisor. They often report directly to the executives at the company instead of being overseen by anyone else. Many companies have their own compliance departments. This means that you are usually a part of the mid-level management team.

compliance officer vs. compliance manager

There is some overlap between the positions of compliance officer and compliance manager. Many businesses use both titles for essentially the same job role. However, in larger workplaces, a compliance manager may oversee a large department of multiple compliance officers who all specialize in a single area.

Would working as a compliance officer suit your passion for safety and structure? Then read on to find out what competencies and qualifications you need to thrive in a compliance officer role.

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average compliance officer salary

Compliance officers make a salary that reflects their extensive training and high levels of responsibility. The average compliance officer makes around $71,700 per year or $34.47 per hour. Wages vary depending on your job, though. Some compliance officers make as little as $41,000 per year. Others make over $118,000 per year. Usually, you earn more if you have more responsibilities or work a job that requires you to supervise a lot of other employees. Highly experienced compliance officers who have been working in an industry for a while also earn more.

find the highest-earning jobs

Statistically speaking, there are a few areas where you are most likely to get especially high-paying jobs. Compliance officers in Washington D.C., New Jersey, Connecticut, and Illinois make the highest average wages. The industry you work in also makes a difference. Here are the five top-paying industries for compliance officers:

  • oil pipeline transportation
  • petroleum and coal manufacturing
  • computer manufacturing
  • electric power services
  • natural gas distribution

Wondering what you can earn as a compliance officer? Find out immediately with the Randstad salary checker! You can quickly and easily see what the average salary of a compliance officer is.

smiling male wearing suit and tie
smiling male wearing suit and tie

types of compliance officer

Since there are so many different types of regulations to keep track of, some compliance officers specialize in certain fields. Here are some examples of types of compliance officers:

  • financial services compliance officer: These compliance officers focus on financial laws and regulations.
  • healthcare information technology compliance officer: In this field, you focus on making sure doctors' offices and other healthcare facilities use technology properly.
  • government ethics officer: Some government departments hire ethics officers to monitor the behavior of law enforcement and other government employees.
  • food safety compliance officer: You make sure that food service companies follow all food safety guidelines.
  • environmental compliance officer: These officers monitor construction companies and other businesses to help them follow environmental safety regulations.

working as a compliance officer

Interested in seeing whether this job would work for your needs? Here's what you need to know about how the typical compliance officer job works.


compliance officer skills and education

If you want to succeed as a compliance officer, it's essential to get the right training. Typically, employers ask that their compliance officers meet these qualifications:

  • education: The majority of compliance officers will have a bachelor's degree. This four-year degree gives you a lot of the knowledge you need for the job, so you usually cannot skip it. Some compliance officers pick a general degree like legal studies or business. Others pick an industry-specific degree like manufacturing or healthcare. Some compliance officers choose to also get a master's degree. Though this degree is optional, it does help you qualify for more competitive jobs.
  • experience: Since this isn't an entry-level job, you'll need some experience working in your chosen industry. Some compliance officers start out as an intern in a compliance or HR department. Others work in related fields, like administration or data entry, before transitioning to being compliance officers.
  • certifications: Though not a requirement, certifications can be useful to show you are properly trained. The most popular option is a certification from the Society of Corporate Compliance and Ethics (SCCE). Other compliance officers get industry-specific certifications such as a certification from the American Bankers Association (ABA).

skills and competencies

If you excel at identifying and following rules, you are already on your way to being a great compliance officer. Some other skills that will help you do well in this career include:

  • organization: You'll be handling large amounts of data each day, so you need to stay organized. Expect to organize both digital data and paperwork.
  • problem-solving: In this job, you use your analytical abilities to identify problems and come up with solutions. You'll need to be able to think creatively and be willing to experiment with new methods.
  • communication: Much of your job involves communicating with coworkers about complex legal and regulatory matters. You'll benefit from the ability to explain these concepts simply and clearly.
  • time management: Since you handle so many different tasks in a day, you need to be a motivated, independent worker who manages their time well.
  • conflict management: Strong interpersonal skills make it easier to handle disputes between workers. You need to be comfortable disciplining coworkers and instructing people without upsetting them.
  • technological abilities: Most compliance officers need to be comfortable working with computers and software like Microsoft Office. You'll use technology to do things like file reports and monitor coworkers.
female executive reading documents
female executive reading documents

FAQs about working as a compliance officer

Here you will find answers to the most frequently asked questions about compliance officers.

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