Interested in upholding the law but don’t want to go through the extensive process of becoming a lawyer? Becoming a compliance officer might be the perfect career for you!
When you hear about a job that requires you to ensure people don’t violate any local, state, or federal laws, you may immediately think of either lawyers, judges, or cops. However, compliance officers are lesser-known law-enforcing professionals who also perform these duties!
In fact, they often act as the middleman between lawyers, judges, and cops to prevent companies from violating regulations that could lead to lawsuits, fines, and charges.
If this type of career interests you, then read on to learn more about how to become a compliance officer, the exact roles these professionals play, their salary, and much more!
It will take you at least four years to become a compliance officer. Here are the steps required to join this profession:
The first and potentially only step to becoming a compliance officer is completing an undergraduate degree at an accredited university.
The compliance officer career path offers various opportunities, from business compliance officers ensuring companies follow rules to environmental protection officers safeguarding the environment's well-being.
While there is no specific degree that focuses on compliance risk or management, popular degree choices for those interested in pursuing this career include:
While these are the most common degrees compliance officers pursue, it’s worth noting there is no perfect major for this career. There have been various compliance officers who had majors outside of these listed options, such as liberal arts, engineering, nursing, marketing, and more.
If your major itself doesn’t give you the advantage to learn the technical skills required to be a compliance officer, having experience will! In any case, experience is sure to boost your resume and make you stand out amongst other applicants.
Understanding how to start a career as a compliance manager is is key. Consider applying to internships related to compliance management during your undergrad. If these internships are difficult to find, you may want to consider working in any corporate setting to become familiar with the intricacies of internal rules and regulations.
A popular way to become a compliance officer is to work your way up in a company. If you start working for an organization during your undergrad, you may be able to progress into a compliance position soon after graduating!
While there aren’t specific major requirements to become a compliance officer, completing a master’s degree related to compliance risk and management can provide you with the specialization and skills needed to stand out!
While many compliance officers choose to attend law school instead of completing a master’s degree, this option may not be feasible or attractive to you, considering law school is notoriously competitive, rigorous, and expensive!
A Master’s degree will also take less time, meaning you can enter the field as soon as possible! Most of these advanced degrees take around one to two full-time years to complete. But, for those who want to gain some experience in the field while pursuing higher education, many of these Master’s programs also offer part-time studies!
Popular Master’s programs in this field include:
While this step is not necessary, it can open more doors for you and lead to a higher salary!
We’ve covered how to become a compliance officer, but you might still have questions about the exact roles these professionals play in corporations. Compliance officers are typically responsible for the following tasks:
The above roles are general tasks all compliance officers complete. However, these tasks become more specific depending on the type of compliance officer you are:
These compliance roles play a crucial part in various industries, ensuring adherence to legal and ethical standards while safeguarding the interests of stakeholders and the public.
To be a successful compliance officer, the most important skill is excellent attention to detail. You’ll be required to consider several internal and external rules and regulations that may change over time. You’ll have to keep up-to-date with these laws and know exactly how to follow and violate them.
Assessing if your company is following relevant regulations also requires great analytical and critical thinking skills! You’ll have to be able to quickly find and resolve any violations and create new policies to ensure the same issues don’t reoccur.
Additionally, since you’ll be training staff and conversing with employees at multiple levels, you’ll also need to be confident in your abilities and have strong communication and interpersonal skills.
If you’re not a people person, this profession may not be the right fit for you! Your entire job revolves around protecting not only the corporation you work for but also the people in it! You’ll be expected to advocate for them, discuss violations with them, and resolve any conflicts they cause to protect them and the company.
The final essential skill you’ll need is stellar time management and the ability to multitask. You’ll have to learn new rules and regulations while still considering existing ones. You’ll also be expected to create effective policies to protect these rules and figure out how to properly implement these policies in the workplace all at the same time!
To land a job as a compliance officer, make sure your resume showcases these skills:
Remember, customize your resume to the job you want, focusing on the skills that match the specific role. Sharing real-life examples of how you've used these skills can make your resume even more convincing to potential employers. Good luck!
If the responsibilities of this career have piqued your interest, the salary will likely motivate you to become a compliance officer even more!
A compliance officer's salary is around $76,980 a year, with many compliance workers making more than $100,000 a year, depending on their specialty!
If you’d like to become one of these six-figure earners, consider joining the highest-paying fields:
California is currently the highest-paying state for compliance officers, with an average salary of $87,020 a year.
Luckily, these professionals are also always in demand since every organization needs experts to help them navigate through all of the complex rules they’re bound by!
Employment in this sector is expected to rise by 1.6% in the coming years, which may not seem like a lot, but there are already around 359,640 compliance officer job openings each year!
We’ve covered the basics of how to become a compliance officer, what to expect in this role and your anticipated salary. But, in case you have any more questions, here are the answers to frequently asked questions about this career!
Yes, becoming a compliance officer is a good career because it is in demand, has high pay potential, and is quite versatile! Every company needs a compliance officer, so you can pick your favorite sector and work in it!
No, at the minimum, you will need to complete a bachelor’s degree to become a compliance officer.
Yes, compliance officers are paid $76,980 a year on average, although certain specialties, like information services and various forms of engineering, make over $100,00 a year.
No, although many compliance officers have a legal background, you don’t have to attend law school to qualify for this job. An undergraduate degree is usually sufficient, although pursuing an advanced degree can give you more specialized training and make you a more attractive candidate for jobs.
There is no specific major required to become a compliance officer, so you can choose one that interests you the most. However, having a major in finance, business, accounting, or related disciplines can prove helpful in your job search and eventual practice.
Compliance officers work in every sector! Every corporation is bound by its own rules, its state’s laws, and the larger federal system’s regulations. As such, compliance officers are needed to ensure all of these rules are followed.
Choosing the perfect career is undoubtedly stressful and overwhelming! But, if you have a passion for law, business, or management, you can add becoming a compliance officer to your list of potential careers!