How Can I Become a Certified Compliance Officer?

Research what it takes to become a certified compliance officer. Learn about education requirements, job duties, average wages and job outlook to find out if this is the career for you. Schools offering Accounting degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Is a Certified Compliance Officer?

Compliance officers make sure that businesses and organizations adhere to legal regulations and contractual obligations. They may also evaluate a company's practices to make sure that they are in line with particular ethical standards. Based on their findings, they write reports for company executives, and they may offer advice on how to address any areas of noncompliance and how to guard against future compliance risks. Although certification is not required, there are several professional organizations that certify compliance officers.

The following chart outlines some of the skills of a compliance officer, required education, certification options and salary potential.

Degree Required Bachelor's degree
Education Field of Study Finance
Certification Options NAFCU Certified Compliance Officer
ABA Certified Regulatory Compliance Manager
IAFM Certified Compliance Officer
Key Skills Detail oriented, law knowledge
Job Growth (2014-2024) 3%*
Average Salary (2015) $69,180*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Would I Do as a Certified Compliance Officer?

Compliance officers are hired by companies to ensure that they are meeting the legal financial requirements of their industry. For any given field, there are governing bodies that create rules and regulations in order to make sure that companies behave ethically and within the limitations of the law. As a compliance officer, you need to know these laws and how they affect your organization. Tasks include creating compliance reviews and strategies to ensure that your bank or company complies with financial laws and regulations.

What Education Do I Need?

Tax examiners, a field that includes compliance officers, most often hold a bachelor's degree in finance, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (www.bls.gov). An undergraduate degree program in finance could help you get a job that would give you experience in the field or prepare you for the examinations required to receive compliance-related certification.

How Do I Become Certified?

Several organizations offer compliance certifications that differ according to the type of organization for which you work. The National Association of Federal Credit Unions (NAFCU) offers the NAFCU Certified Compliance Officer (NCCO) designation, which is awarded after a passing score on the NCCO examination (www.nafcu.org). The American Bankers Association offers the Certified Regulatory Compliance Manager designation, which has requirements of experience, a professional recommendation and an ethics agreement in addition to a passing score on the exam (www.aba.org). The International Academy of Financial Management offers a course of study leading to the Certified Compliance Officer designation (www.theiafm.org).

What Salary Can I Expect to Earn?

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that as of May 2015, compliance officers made an average annual wage of $69,180. According to the BLS, compliance officers in the 10th-90th percentile range made $37,390-$102,940 that year.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

Instead of becoming a compliance officer, you might consider getting a job as an occupational health and safety specialist. Your job would be to assess workplace environments in order to ensure that they do not threaten the well-being of employees, consumers or the environment as a whole. You might also develop and implement strategies to reduce occupational hazards. The minimum educational requirement is a bachelor's degree.

Alternatively, you could consider becoming an external auditor. In this job, instead of working for a single company, you would evaluate the financial management practices of many organizations, as a representative of a third-party oversight organization, such as a government agency. You need to have a bachelor's degree to get a job as an external auditor.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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