Everything About A Compliance Officer Career
You want to become a compliance officer but are not entirely sure whether this is really the right career path for you or not?
Great! Stick with me since I will show you all the pros and cons of being a compliance officer in the following chapters.
Not only will I show you whether it makes sense to become a compliance officer from a financial perspective or not, but I will also show you how happy compliance officers are in their jobs.
Moreover, we will also talk about job security, working hours, educational requirements and a lot more.
After reading this article, you will have a pretty good idea of whether you still want to pursue this career path or if you want to work in a different field instead.
What does a Compliance Officer do?
Compliance officers make sure that employees act in line with rules and regulations and that legal requirements are met all the time.
In case of employees conflicting with those things, compliance officers call them out and show them how to better align company goals with legal and regulatory requirements.
Responsibilities & Duties of a Compliance Officer
- Making sure that employees comply with legal requirements
- Making sure that employees comply with internal policies
- Assuring that employees act in line with company culture
- Developing and adjusting a company’s compliance program
- Communication with regulators on a federal or state level
- Reporting violations to management bodies
- Making sure that employees have an incentive to report bad behavior of colleagues
- Assuring that the overall company complies with local and international regulations
- Improving reporting channels for compliance issues
What a Typical Day of a Compliance Officer looks like?
Most compliance officers get to work between 7 and 9 a.m.
After commuting to their workplace, they often have a look at their e-mails and make sure to answer the most urgent ones to put out fires right before they even start.
After answering e-mails, compliance officers usually work on continuous tasks that aim to improve the overall compliance of the company with regulatory standards.
This can mean preparing surveys, talking to employees about compliance issues and much more.
After taking a short break at lunchtime, compliance officers usually work until 5 – 7 p.m. until they finally finish their workday.
Thus, you will have a normal 9 to 5 job most of the time, especially if you are relatively new in this field and don’t have personnel responsibility yet.
Compliance Officer Salary 2021
Compliance Officer salary brackets 2021
|Salary Brackets||Salary (per year)||Salary (per hour)|
|Top 10 %||> $105,000||> $52.32|
|Top 25 %||$85,000 – $94,000||$42.41 – $46.88|
|Bottom 25 %||$55,000 – $61,000||$27.37 – $30.43|
|Bottom 10 %||$42,000 – $48,000||$20.93 – $23.91|
|Range||$42,000 – $126,000||$20.93 – $62.83|
Compliance Officer salary 2021 by expert level
|Level of Experience||Salary (per year)||Salary (per hour)|
|Entry level||$42,000 – $54,000||$20.93 – $26.87|
|Junior||$49,000 – $63,000||$24.33 – $31.41|
|Professional||$61,000 – $76,000||$30.38 – $37.92|
|Senior Professional||$72,000 – $89,000||$35.86 – $44.37|
|Expert||$81,000 – $97,000||$40.42 – $48.29|
|Top Expert||$88,000 – $126,000||$43.91 – $62.83|
Compliance Officer salary by state 2021 (average)
|State||Salary (per year)||Salary (per hour)|
|District of Columbia||$78,400||$39.14|
Job Security for Compliance Officers
Compliance officers have pretty decent job security.
Since rules and regulations in the corporate world are complex, people who are really good at those things are in high demand and will also find a new job in case they get fired rather quickly.
Future Job Prospects of Compliance Officers
Job prospects of compliance officers will likely also be pretty good in the future.
In fact, since rules and regulations continue to become even more complex and not that many people want to work as compliance officers anymore, you will have excellent chances for a fancy career in this field in future decades.
Working Hours of Compliance Officers
Most compliance officers start their workday between 7 and 9 a.m. and finish their workday between 5 and 7 p.m.
Hence, if you start early, you will also come home early from work and this allows you to spend lots of time with your family or on your favorite hobbies.
Job Satisfaction of Compliance Officers
Most compliance officers are pretty happy with their overall working conditions.
While the work itself can be boring, you will still be able to make decent money and will also benefit from pretty decent job security.
Thus, becoming a compliance officer will be great for you if you search for a secure job where you can still make a decent living from what you are doing.
Promotion Opportunities of Compliance Officers
Compliance officers also have pretty decent promotion opportunities.
After just a few years of experience, you will be able to get personnel and budget responsibility and this will not only greatly improve your salary, but you will also have more power to change things to the positive.
Career Levels of Compliance Officers
- Intern in the compliance department of local companies
- Junior compliance officer
- Senior compliance officer
- Compliance officer with budget and/or personnel responsibility
- Boss of a compliance department team
- Manager of the whole compliance department
Fields and Types of Compliance Officers
- Compliance officer assuring that legal requirements are met
- Compliance offer responsible for rules and regulations
- Compliance officer for corporate values
- Compliance officer for financial issues
- Compliance officer for insurance issues
- Compliance officer for digital products and services
- Compliance officer for copyright issues
- Compliance officer for ethics
- Compliance officer for technology-related issues
Educational Requirements for Compliance Officers
You often need at least a bachelor’s degree in business, accounting, economics or a related field for working as a compliance officer.
Some companies even require you to get additional certifications.
Hence, make sure that working as a compliance officer is really what you want to do for quite a long time to make it worth the upfront investment.
How to become a Compliance Officer
- Inform yourself about the advantages and disadvantages of being a compliance officer
- Get good grades in high school
- Apply for colleges that officer compliance-related studies
- Study hard and get good grades in college
- Apply for an internship in the compliance department of companies
- Make a good impression during your internship
- Stay in touch with your colleagues
- Successfully finish college
- Apply for jobs in the compliance field
- Master the job interview
- Sign your working contract
- Climb the corporate ladder
Character Traits you need for Working as a Compliance Officer
- Attention to detail can help spotting compliance issues
- Willingness to annoy your colleagues on a regular basis
- Willingness to work on rather boring stuff
- You should accept the fact that you will not be a popular person in your organization
- Strong mindset to stay calm in tense situations
- Willingness to get into conflicts with your colleagues
- Empathy helps to find solutions to conflicting problems
- You should stay strong in your beliefs
- Willingness to always adjust to new rules and regulations
Hard Skills for Compliance Officers
- College degree in a compliance-related field
- Good knowledge of local rules and regulations
- Knowledge of international laws can help as well
- Good conflict resolution skills
- Digital skills help in our technologized world as well
- Ability to read people
- Ability to properly assess the impact of compliance measures on the company
- Understanding of incentive-based management schemes
- Knowledge of how to separate important from unimportant things quickly
Soft Skills for Compliance Officers
- Patience is key to build strong compliance schemes
- Ability to adjust to new rules and regulations on a regular basis
- Ability to stay calm when dealing with annoying colleagues
- Ability to communicate to many different stakeholders
- You should have a compromising attitude to align compliance with financial goals
- Good presentations skills
- Ability to questions your own work
- Stress resistance
- Willingness to work on rather unexciting things
Exit Options for Compliance Officers
Compliance officers have pretty decent exit options.
If you don’t want to work as a compliance officer one day, you can also work in many related departments.
For instance, many compliance officers switch to the legal office of companies or work as financial controllers, bookkeepers or complaint managers instead.
Compliance Officer – Similar Careers
- Financial controller
- Investment banker
- Tax examiner
- Control worker
- Financial analyst
Compliance Officer Career FAQs
Is working as a compliance officer physically demanding?
Being a compliance officer is not physically demanding at all.
Most of the time, you will just sit behind a computer in a comfortable office chair.
Consequently, compared to people who work in craftsmen jobs, compliance officers will not have to stress their bodies that much.
Is working as a compliance officer mentally demanding?
Working as a compliance officer can be pretty demanding from a mental perspective.
In fact, you will often have to adjust to new rules and regulations while you also have to make sure to communicate these changes to your colleagues in a proper manner so that they don’t get annoyed or upset.
Is it dangerous to work as a compliance officer?
Working as a compliance officer is not dangerous.
Since you will work indoors in a cozy office environment, you will be at a much lower risk of suffering from accidents at work compared to roofers, construction workers or other people who have to work with their hands or operate heavy machines.
How long do compliance officers stay in their jobs?
Compliance officers stay in their jobs for about 8 years on average.
In fact, many of them switch to related fields where they have still decent working conditions but can make more money from what they are doing.
Is it easy for compliance officers to find a new job?
Since compliance officers are in high demand right now, it is pretty easy to find a new job in this field.
Hence, you don’t have to worry about becoming unemployed that much since even if you do, chances are that you will find another job in this field rather quickly.
Is it hard to switch from being a compliance officer to another field of work?
Due to their excellent knowledge of regulatory topics, compliance officers can work in many different fields.
In fact, it is pretty easy for compliance officers to make a switch from the compliance department to the legal or financial department of companies since almost every department urgently needs this knowledge.
Do compliance officers have a high social status?
Compliance officers have a decent social status.
While they don’t have the same high social status as doctors or other people who can save lives on a daily basis, compliance officers still have a higher social status compared to many blue-collar jobs out there.
Can you help out your family and friends as a compliance officer?
You will not be able to help your loved ones that much with your knowledge from compliance.
In fact, you could do much better for them as a craftsman or lawyer since you would be able to support them with real-life things instead of complex regulatory standards that are only valid on a corporate level.
Can compliance officers work remotely?
Compliance officers also often work remotely.
In fact, if you work for a big company, working from home is quite common, at least for some days of the week.
Consequently, you will be more flexible compared to someone who has to be present at work in person and can also save lots of time and money on commuting issues.
Is it easy to find a partner as a compliance officer?
Since you can make good money and will also benefit from decent job security, you will also have an easy time in the dating market when it comes to finding a partner for a long-term relationship since you will just be a good provider.
Do compliance officers have to work on weekends?
Compliance officers don’t have to work on weekends.
Instead, they rather work a standard workweek and will have free Saturdays and Sundays to spend with their favorite people or on the things they like even more than working.
Do compliance officers have to work on holidays?
Compliance officers also don’t have to work on national holidays.
Instead, you can make nice trips on those days or just relax in your garden.
Whatever you do, I am sure you will be able to use this time in a nice manner while other people like waiters or train drivers will have to work during these times.
Do compliance officers have to work at nighttime?
Compliance officers also don’t have to work at nighttime. Instead, they often only work 9 to 5 and will not work more than 40 hours per week.
Consequently, becoming a compliance officer can make sense for you if you want to make decent money while still having enough leisure at the same time.
Do you have to travel as a compliance officer?
There is no need to travel as a compliance officer, at least if you work as a normal employee and don’t have a leading role in your company yet.
At this stage, you will just commute to your normal workplace or work from home on a regular basis instead of having to make exhausting business trips and being away from home quite often.
Are compliance officer pensions good?
Since compliance officers make decent money, also their pensions will be good.
Moreover, they are often also able to save and invest additional money and once they retire, most compliance officers will be in decent financial standing and will not have to deal with financial problems as many other people out there do.
Are compliance officer salaries going up?
Salaries of compliance officers have been going up over the past years and due to the high demand for qualified people in this field, chances are that this trend will continue in the future, especially if you specialize in a field where not many other people are good at and that will be in high demand in future years or decades.
Can you have a positive effect on society as a compliance officer?
While you will make sure that your company complies with rules and regulations, you will still not be able to have a big positive effect on society as a compliance officer since you will just not be able to make the lives of many people better compared to teachers or other people who can change the minds of many people on a daily basis.
How long does it take to become a compliance officer?
For becoming a compliance officer, you will have to get a college degree and you may even need additional certificates.
Consequently, it will take you at least 4 years to be able to work in this field and you should therefore make sure that you really want to work in this field so that you don’t lose motivation and drop out of college sooner or later without a degree.
Is it difficult to become a compliance officer?
While it is not extremely difficult to become a compliance officer, it will still require lots of time and money and you should make sure that you are willing to make this commitment before aspiring to a career in compliance.
Do you need to be smart to work as a compliance officer?
You don’t need to be a genius for working as a compliance officer.
However, you should still be reasonably smart to deal with all sorts of problems that will come along with it and also to have fun with the complex tasks you have to do.
Do compliance officers have a good work-life balance?
Compliance officers have a pretty good work-life balance.
In fact, most compliance officers only work 9 to 5 and most of them also don’t work more than 40 hours per week.
Consequently, you will have more than enough time to spend on your hobbies or to meet up with people after work.
Do compliance officers have to work many extra hours?
Compliance officers also don’t have to work many extra hours.
While you may have to work more during busy times of the year, this will only be temporary and you will be back to a rather relaxed workweek pretty soon.
How to maximize your chances of becoming a compliance officer?
The better your grades and the earlier you apply for internships in this field, the more likely it will be that you are able to work as a compliance officer once you get your college degree.
Hence, make sure to invest time in your career early in your life to reap the benefits later.
Can compliance officers work part-time?
Some compliance officers also only work part-time.
While this might be possible in theory, you will often still want to work full-time since you will just need the money, especially if you live in expensive regions where rents and other living costs are high.
Do compliance officers work indoors or outdoors?
Compliance officers work indoors.
In fact, working as a compliance officer means working in a normal office job and in case you don’t want to commute to your office, you may also just be able to work from home.
Hence, you will be able to spend most of your workday indoors and don’t have to worry about climatic issues like many other people who work outdoors have to do on a regular basis.
What does the workplace of a compliance officer look like?
As a compliance officer, you will work in a standard office environment.
Thus, you will be surrounded by many folders and will mainly do your work on a computer.
If you work from home, you can also make your workplace as cozy as possible.
Do you have to look good for working as a compliance officer?
While you don’t necessarily have to look good as a compliance officer, studies have shown that your level of attractiveness matters for your career prospects.
In fact, the more attractive you are, the higher your chances of climbing the corporate ladder soon.
Is a compliance officer career beneficial for your private life?
Since compliance officers make decent money and also have pretty good work-life balance, working in this field can be great for you if you want to have kids and also want to have enough time for seeing them grow up.
Do you need a college degree for becoming a compliance officer?
You need at least a bachelor’s degree in a compliance-related field like business, economics or accounting for becoming a compliance officer.
Hence, you will have to spend many years in college and also have to invest lots of money in your education.
Do you need to be certified to work as a compliance officer?
Most of the time, it will be enough to hold a college degree for getting an entry-level job in compliance.
However, if you aspire to a really demanding career, you may still get some additional certifications in the field of compliance to really stand out from the crowd.
How much does it cost to become a compliance officer?
Since you will have to go to college and spend lots of money on tuition and other expenses related to it, many compliance officers have to invest five or even six figures into their education and also often have to take on student loans to finance their studies.
Is being a compliance officer a good career?
Working as a compliance officer can be a pretty good career if you are the kind of person who wants to have a secure job and also wants to have lots of leisure while still making decent money at the same time.
Is it easy to start your own business as a compliance officer?
Since compliance is a pretty complex topic and many people work in compliance departments, it is pretty hard to start your own business in this field.
Instead, you will most likely have to work as an employed compliance officer for the rest of your career without any prospects of working on your own in the future.
Can compliance officers teach themselves?
While compliance officers can teach themselves quite a lot, they also learn a lot from their colleagues or from training they get on specific topics.
Hence, to succeed as a compliance officer in the long run, you will also need lots of theoretical knowledge apart from practical things you learn on the job.
Do compliance officers make good money?
You can make pretty decent money as a compliance officer.
While you will not be able to make the same money as investment bankers or other people in the financial industry, you will still be able to make a decent living and will have far more leisure compared to other people who make more money from what they are doing.
Is it ever too late to become a compliance officer?
While you can become a compliance officer at any age, you should still make sure that you start your career relatively early since the older you get, the harder it will be for you to find a company that is willing to employ you.
Do compliance officers have to quit their careers early?
Most compliance officers don’t have to quit their careers early.
Since working as a compliance officer is not stressful from a physical perspective, you will be able to work in this field in your 50s, 60s or even 70s.
What is the most challenging thing about working as a compliance officer?
The most challenging thing about being a compliance officer is that you always have to adjust to new rules and regulations and also have to communicate those changes to many different departments which might not be happy about those things at all since they often imply additional work.
Can you provide for your family by working as a compliance officer?
Most compliance officers make enough money and can easily provide for their families.
In fact, working as a compliance officer can be perfect for you if you are looking for a secure job where you still have lots of time for your family and can make decent money at the same time.
Will compliance officers suffer from old-age poverty?
Since pensions of compliance officers are pretty decent and they can also save some money for retirement, you will not have to worry about old-age poverty as a compliance officer that much unless you spend too much money on useless consumption.
Can compliance officers retire early?
Even though compliance officers are able to make decent money, most of them will still not be able to retire early.
Hence, if your goal is to retire early, you should rather become an investment banker, lawyer or doctor since you can just make far more money in this field.
Do compliance officers get a fixed or variable salary?
Most compliance officers get a fixed salary with a small portion of variable salary.
Consequently, your performance at work will not matter that much for your overall salary and this can be really frustrating, especially if you are the type of person who is willing to work hard since you will not be compensated in an appropriate manner.
Can you get rich as a compliance officer?
While you can make good money, you will not be able to get rich by working in compliance.
Hence, if money is really important to you, you should rather become a doctor or work in other jobs where you can make far more money.
Do compliance officers need a second job?
Most compliance officers don’t need a second job to pay their bills. Instead, they make enough money to provide for their families and also to afford some nice toys.
However, if you really want to enjoy lots of luxury, you may still have to work in a second job since your salary from your compliance job will often not be enough.
Do you get continuous training as a compliance officer?
You will get training as a compliance officer on a regular basis.
In fact, rules and regulations change quite often and you need ongoing training to stay ahead of the game and to assure the compliance of your company with local and international laws.
Are compliance officers organized in unions?
Compliance officers are not organized in a strong union.
However, since the demand for qualified workers in this field is pretty high, you can still negotiate decent salaries and working conditions without getting the support of unions.
Do you get paid when you are sick as a compliance officer?
Most big companies also offer sick pay to compliance officers.
Hence, you don’t have to worry about the financial consequences of getting sick at all since you will be covered and will still receive enough money to pay your bills during these times.
Do compliance officers have a high level of responsibility?
Compliance officers have a high level of responsibility.
In fact, mistakes on their side can lead to catastrophic outcomes for the entire company and many employers may lose their jobs.
Thus, you always need to stay focused to avoid big mistakes that could lead to serious legal issues for the company you work for.
Can compliance officers work abroad?
Since rules and regulations greatly differ across countries, it can be difficult for you to find a job abroad as a compliance officer.
Quite often, your degree will also not be fully recognized and in such a case, you would need to spend additional time and money on educational aspects.
Is it stressful to work as a compliance officer?
Working as a compliance officer is not that stressful.
Most of the year, you will have a rather standard workweek and also don’t have to work many extra hours.
Consequently, your workweek will be rather relaxed compared to other people who have to work in high-pressure jobs 60+ hours per week.
Is it boring to work as a compliance officer?
Being a compliance officer can become pretty boring in the long run, especially if you are not interested in rules and regulations at all.
In such a case, you may rather want to go for a job that provides you with a more exciting work environment.
Is being a compliance officer hard?
While working as a compliance officer is not physically hard, it can be demanding on a mental level since you always have to adjust to new rules and regulations and also make sure that various departments also make the required changes.
Are compliance officers at risk of burnout?
Since working as a compliance officer is not that stressful, you will also not be at great risk of burnout.
Instead, you will be able to work in a rather relaxed manner for most of the year and will also have enough power left for your loved ones.
Is there a dress code for compliance officers?
Since compliance officers work in classical office jobs, suits and conservative dresses are pretty common in this field.
In fact, you should follow those sorts of conventional dress codes if you want to succeed in compliance in the long run.
What kind of compliance officers are paid the most?
The more specialized you are and the fewer people can do your work, the more you will be able to make as a compliance officer.
If you want to make really good money, you should also aspire to a leading corporate career with personnel and budget responsibility.
What percentage of compliance officers are women?
There is a healthy balance between men and women in the compliance industry.
In fact, it is almost 50:50 and you can therefore succeed in this field no matter whether you are born as a woman or man.
Do I need a mentor to succeed as a compliance officer?
You don’t urgently need a mentor to succeed as a compliance officer.
However, it can still help to build a strong network within your company to increase your chances of getting promoted or also to switch to different departments.
Will you be personally liable for mistakes as a compliance officer?
You will not be personally liable for mistakes if you work as a normal employed compliance officer most of the time.
However, once you get more responsibilities, you may be at greater risk in this regard and may want to get proper insurance.
Do compliance officers have a high life expectancy?
Compliance officers have a pretty decent life expectancy.
Since they don’t have that much stress at work and also have a rather standard workweek, compliance officers are not at great risk of suffering from health issues related to their jobs.
Moreover, thanks to their good salaries, compliance officers will also be able to afford medical treatment in case of emergency.
Do compliance officers suffer from sleeping problems?
Compliance officers don’t suffer from sleeping problems, at least not due to their jobs.
In fact, compliance officers don’t have to work at nighttime and will therefore be able to maintain a stable sleeping rhythm.
What states are best for working as a compliance officer?
The best states for working as a compliance officer are the states where many big corporations are present.
Hence, good choices in this regard would be California or New York since you will not only have many different employment options but can also make really good money in those regions.
Who do compliance officers work with?
Compliance officers don’t work with many external clients.
Instead, they mainly assure that various departments within the organization comply with laws, rules and regulations to avoid costly lawsuits.
Is working as a compliance officer cool?
Working as a compliance officer is not cool.
Instead, you will just work in a rather boring office job and people who experience many exciting things at work may just make fun of you.
Can you start a side hustle as a compliance officer?
It is pretty hard to start a side hustle as a compliance officer.
There are just not many things you could do apart from working in your day job since your expertise will be focused on companies and you will not be able to provide value for most private persons out there.
Do you have to be creative as a compliance officer?
You don’t need to be creative as a compliance officer.
Instead, you will have to do the same things over and over again and will rather get stuck in a productive routine where creativity would only negatively impact your efficiency.
How employable are compliance officers?
Since compliance officers are needed in almost every company, the demand for qualified compliance officers is pretty high and compliance officers are therefore pretty employable in many urban regions.
Are compliance officers happy with their jobs?
While most compliance officers are happy with their salary and work-life balance, many of them still complain that they don’t like their daily tasks that much and that they rather want to do something else.
Is working as a compliance officer exciting?
Working as a compliance officer is not exciting most of the time since you will do pretty standardized work and will therefore lose motivation for what you are doing sooner or later.
What are the pros and cons of working as a compliance officer?
If you want to get even more information about being a compliance officer, you may also want to have a look at the pros and cons of a compliance officer career.
Interviews and own research.
About the author
My name is Andreas and my mission is to educate people about the different career paths that are possible in our current state of the world. In my opinion, people often make the mistake to choose their profession solely based on how much money they can earn from it instead of doing what makes them really happy.
This is quite sad and I just want to give people a more objective picture of how a fulfilling career could look like. I did the same when I started working in consulting after finishing my Master’s degree in Economics. However, I’ve quit pretty soon after that since I haven’t found true meaning in my job.
Now I can do what I really love to do and I want to enable as many other people as well to go this exciting path towards happiness instead of money.
I conducted various interviews with employees to give you a good impression of what working in different fields will look like and that you can make the best possible decision regarding your future career choice.
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