The role of a business compliance officer or manager lies at the point where business management and government regulation intersect. Essentially, these professionals are tasked to make sure that companies are doing business in a way that satisfies all relevant legal requirements in all applicable jurisdictions. They may also function as internal auditors to ensure best practices and current governance principles are applied properly throughout an organization. Compliance officers are held to a high ethical standard within their profession and must apply a wealth of knowledge on a regular basis.
Role in Government
Compliance officers working for city, state or federal agencies in the United States typically act as operations auditors or business liaisons. Some of these professionals utilize their knowledge and experience to help draft effective policies, while others take an active role in investigative and enforcement efforts. Officers employed by the government are civil servants, so their duties revolve around protecting the interests of taxpayers and fighting corruption. Compliance officers may also examine internal operations of official agencies or government-sponsored programs.
Working for Businesses
In the private sector, business compliance professionals fill a vital role in reducing sources of liability, waste and mismanagement within an organization. There are government regulations regarding almost every aspect of business operations, which is why many large organizations employ dedicated compliance officers. Legal violations expose the company to fines and potentially open the way for a costly civil suit. Ensuring compliance also sets a strong standard for the company, which helps establish its reputation in the industry and with the general public.
Education and Skill Requirements
Compliance manager positions are often flexible in their educational requirements with many open to individuals with a bachelor’s degree in law, accounting or a similar field. However, senior positions typically go to professionals who have accumulated years of experience. Many employers prefer applicants for advanced jobs to have a master’s degree or specialized skills. Anyone interested in working in this field should also demonstrate a high standard of ethical behavior and personal accountability. Technical skills, including the ability to comfortably use computers and essential software tools, are a valuable addition to resumes as well.
Careers in business compliance take on many different forms, so there is plenty of room for professionals to explore and expand their horizons. Compliance officers earned a median annual wage of around $71,000 in 2017, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Demand for qualified officers is projected to grow quickly through 2026 compared to the average across the job market. Opportunity to work for both public and private entities contributes to the appeal of the profession for those worried about finding employment.
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The occupational flexibility and relatively high employer demand can make compliance an appealing choice for prospective students, but building a career also takes strong personal commitment and investment of time. Reliability and experience are particularly valuable in this profession, as well as a strong reputation and a proven track record of success. Being a business compliance officer is not always easy, but it does provide plenty of opportunities for personal and professional development.