How to Become a Certified Bank Compliance Officer

Learn how to become a certified bank compliance officer. Research the education requirements, training information and experience you will need to start a career in banking compliance.

Should I Become a Certified Bank Compliance Officer?

Bank compliance officers, also known as financial examiners, are responsible for ensuring that a bank abides by all state and federal banking rules, regulations and procedures. They perform adherence reviews and create strategies for overall bank compliance, thereby ensuring that organizations maintain their good standing as financially trustworthy institutions. Travel is often required for bank inspections.

Career Requirements

Common Requirements
Degree Level A bachelor's degree is prerequisite.
Degree Field A financial examiner's educational background should include coursework in accounting, finance, and related fields.
Licensure and Certification Voluntary certification is available.
Experience Entry-level, although experience is typically required for advancement. Three years of experience are required for certification.
Key Skills Skills in critical thinking, judgment, personnel management, reading comprehension, speaking, writing, and problem solving are crucial. Familiarity with project management techniques, financial analysis and information retrieval software is helpful as well. A strong grasps of economics, accounting, legal codes and mathematics is required of all bank compliance officers.
Annual Median Salary (2015) $61,026 for compliance officers across all legal and corporate disciplines. Compliance officers specifically operating in finance (i.e. financial examiners) earn an annual median salary of $65,146.

Sources: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), American Bankers Association (ABA),, O*Net Online.

Step 1: Obtain a Bachelor's Degree

Financial examiners typically have a minimum of a bachelor's degree. The program may be in accounting, business administration or another related program, such as the Bachelor of Business with a concentration in banking and finance. Typical degree programs for prospective bank compliance officers should include courses in fields such as mathematics, economics, accounting, finance and statistics.

Success Tip:

  • Consider an internship. Undergraduates who wish to enhance their professional skills may consider taking part in a banking internship. These positions, which may be paid or unpaid, give students the opportunity to apply what they've learned in class to real-life business situations. Internships also allow the students to interact with respected figures in the banking industry. Students who intern as auditors may have the opportunity to observe and assist bank officials who are conducting compliance audits.

Step 2: Attain a Position as a Bank Compliance Officer

Bank compliance officers can find employment in several types of financial institutions, including commercial banks, retail bank and trust companies, private investment banks and international banks. Generally, candidates start in the compliance department of the bank as a staff member. In order to become certified as a bank compliance officer, a candidate must have a minimum of three years of experience working in the compliance department of a bank. The candidate must hold a position of responsibility and perform a complete range of compliance procedures, including compliance reviews and strategic planning.

Success Tip:

  • Take continuing education courses related to bank compliance. Individuals who wish to become certified bank compliance officers must first participate in 80 hours of compliance training classes that have been approved by the Institute of Certified Bankers (ICB). Interested individuals may fulfill this requirement by taking courses through the ABA National Compliance School or by completing the ABA Online Review Course. Classes from the American Institute of Banking or one of the state banker's associations will also fulfill this requirement.

Step 3: Become Certified

Banking compliance officers who have three years of work experience and at least 80 hours of approved training within the five years preceding their certification application are prepared to pursue the Certified Regulatory Compliance Manager (CRCM) credential. They will need to submit an application with a professional reference from a senior official and sign an ethics statement. The process will be complete once the certification candidate has passed an exam.

Success Tips:

  • Maintain the certification with additional continued education. After obtaining certification, CRCMs must maintain that certification in good standing by complying with the ICB ethics code and taking 60 hours of continuing education every three years.
  • Consider advanced training.' Some universities offer master's degree programs in business ethics and compliance, which can prepare officers for advancement to senior positions. These programs may include classes in strategic leadership, quantitative methods, managerial finance, marketing management, human resources management and legal issues.
  • Join a professional organization. Organizations like the ABA offer a variety of resources for bank compliance officers looking for a professional edge. Membership can offer access to job banks, professional networking sites, conferences and online training.

Step 4: Pursue Future Career Advancement Options

Although only a bachelor's degree is strictly necessary to become a banking compliance officer, opportunities for career advancement can often arise with further education. Compliance officers and financial examiners sometimes go on to fill roles as high-level financial managers, auditors, analysts, or executive leaders. Investing and accounting positions are also careers with significant skill overlap relevant to banking compliance. Earning a postgraduate degree in a relevant financial, legal, or administrative field allows many financial examiners to advance to more senior and desirable positions.

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