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Compliance Officer: Career Info and Education Requirements

Oct 25, 2019

A successful career as a compliance officer requires undergraduate education, regulation training, and ethical skills. This background can translate into various compliance careers, such as a regulatory affairs specialist.

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How to Become a Compliance Officer

A career as a compliance officer requires detail-oriented skills and attentiveness since the main task, out of many, is to comply with specific regulations and laws governing licenses and permits, as well as other inspections and analysis. A compliance officer's education more often than not requires a bachelor's degree due to the confidential and moralistic nature of the job. Below is a brief overview of a compliance officer career path, as well as several included positions:

Compliance Officers Regulatory Affairs Specialists Equal Opportunities Representatives and Officers Licensing Specialist
Education Requirements Bachelor's degree Bachelor's degree Bachelor's degree Bachelor's degree
Median Salary (2019)** $68,860 (all compliance officers; 2018)* $66,867** $64,576 (equal employment opportunity specialist)** $44,416**
Projected Job Growth (2018-2028) 6%* 6% (compliance officers)* 6% (compliance officers)* 6% (compliance officers)*

Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, **PayScale

Compliance Officer Education Requirements

Bachelor's Degree

In order to pursue a successful career as a compliance officer, regardless of industry, an individual must typically have a bachelor's degree. There is no specific compliance officer degree. In many cases, people looking to pursue a compliance officer career will earn a bachelor's degree in criminal justice, finance or business.

Master's Degree and Certification

Typically, a master's degree will be the most beneficial to someone who wants to move up from a compliance officer career. Since the requirements to become a compliance officer do not include a post secondary degree, a master's degree in criminal justice, finance, or business could put an individual in a more advanced position, such as a corporate compliance director.

In terms of other training and certifications, an integral piece in the compliance officer requirements can be to gain a CFE, or certified fraud examiner license. All other training, such as an internship, could be the decision of an organization or the university or college where the degree is being pursued.

Specific Compliance Officer Career Options

Below are a few examples of different types of compliance officers:

Regulatory Affairs Specialists

Regulating and recording an organization's internal affairs, regulatory affairs specialists do more than just audit internal operations. They also act as a liaison to other regulatory agencies by submitting paperwork on the status of an organization's internal affairs as well as analyze any rules from corporate communications. The ideal person to be a regulatory affairs specialist would possess strong ethics, such as integrity and attentiveness.

Equal Opportunities Representatives and Officers

Enforcing healthy and lawful work environments, equal opportunities representatives and officers are responsible for investigating employment related policies, monitoring and reviewing complaints, and establishing unbiased policies to implement employment guidelines. Typically, equal opportunities representatives and officers use human resources and analytical software, but they will also utilize compliance software for problem solving. This career would require a person to have a high sense of integrity, attentiveness, and analytical thinking.

Licensing Specialists

Handling all things related to licensure or permits, licensing specialists inform patrons of any regulations involving licenses or permits, notify violators of any licensing or permit related violations, and evaluate applications to determine eligibility. Although this career involves high levels of administration and clerical work, knowledge of laws and government policies holds the highest priority. Because this career is very conventional and autonomous, a person embarking on this career path should be comfortable with strict regulations and policies as well as working independently. Additionally, a person should possess dependability and attentiveness in order to succeed as a licensing specialist.

With an undergraduate education and the appropriate certifications or training, a person pursuing a compliance officer career should have the necessary background and knowledge to perform each aspect of the job. Regardless of the kind of position, it is essential to be detail-oriented and honest to have a successful career.

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