How Do I Become a Compliance Officer?

If you respect rules and have solid leadership skills, you might be wondering how to become a compliance officer. Businesses and organizations must answer to laws and regulations at the federal, state and local levels. These rules may determine what type of contracts an organization may take part in and what permits and licenses they must attain in order to make property changes, provide certain services or sell controlled items. A compliance officer is a professional working within a business, as an external consultant or within a federal, state or local government agency. Compliance officers review these rules and company practices to make sure that all regulations are being followed.

Compliance officers inspect a company’s operations to ensure that the organization is complying with all laws and regulations. They may be responsible for interpreting laws in order to determine whether or not a given rule applies to the company, which requires paying attention to details concerning the language of the rule and the relevant company processes. Because companies are complex entities with many divisions, goals, and ways of attaining their goals, it is essential that compliance officers understand how the company functions as a whole. They do this by not only observing procedures themselves, but also by interviewing employees, who have insider knowledge as to how the company and particular departments run. A compliance officer establishes channels employees can use to file complaints, often over the phone or in writing. Many times, these channels allow for employees to remain anonymous. Upon receiving a complaint, the compliance officer must address the concern by investigating whether or not an issue occurred and how to correct it.

A position as a compliance officer requires varied skills. The United States Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) recommends that aspiring compliance officers earn a bachelor’s degree to prepare them for the career path. Popular courses of study for this position include compliance, business and criminal justice. Advanced degrees in business and similar topics may be an asset for those intending to earn a promotion to senior-level compliance positions. The amount of prior work experience required varies by employer and position level. For those without prior experience, entry-level positions may provide on-the-job training. Mid- and high-level positions in compliance will require experience, often in the industry for which the aspiring compliance officer wishes to work.

Compliance officers earned a median salary of $58,720 per year in 2010, according to the BLS. Actual wages vary based on experience, education, position, employer and location. Between 2010 and 2020, the BLS anticipates 32,400 new compliance officer jobs to become available. Do you follow rules and have a desire to help make sure businesses are following them, too? Do you have excellent leadership and decision-making skills? If so, knowing how to become a compliance officer could be your first step on the path to a fulfilling new career that provides a wide range of opportunities in the prosperous field of business.

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