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What Does a Compliance Officer Do?

Compliance officers enforce food safety or environmental protection policies. These professionals work in a wide range of industries, from healthcare to construction. ITo learn more about job opportunities in this field, read on.

Definition of a Compliance Officer

As a compliance officer, you would perform routine inspections or audits to ensure the regulations, laws, and policies under your jurisdiction are being met. In addition to those mentioned below, fire inspectors, licensing examiners, equal employment opportunity officers, and transportation system inspectors are just a few of the job titles that fall under the category of compliance officers.

Important Facts About Compliance Officers

Similar Occupations Compliance specialist, chief financial officer, director of operations, administrative assistant
Key Skills Auditing and risk control/management skills
Work Environment Typically either in an office or in the field
Professional Certification Credentials such as the Certified Medical Compliance Officer and Certified Compliance and Regulatory Professional are available. Some credentials require continuing education.
Required Education Typically at least a bachelor's degree

Government Officers

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS, www.bls.gov), the federal government employed more compliance officers than any other industry as of May 2018. State governments also employed a large number of compliance officers. Some of the fields in which these officers work are outlined below.

The Environment

As a compliance officer working for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), you could travel to schools or businesses to collect samples, take photographs and interview employees in order to determine whether or not any environmental regulations have been broken. If you discover any violations, such as the failure to properly treat or dispose of waste products, you could enforce remedial actions and closely monitor progress. Officers working for a state's conservation department also perform these activities.

Agriculture

If employed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), you could ensure the safety of imported food, especially meat, poultry, and eggs. You may also work for the U.S. Customs and Border Protection to prevent noxious weeds or other pests from hitchhiking into the United States. If you work for your state agricultural department, you could monitor the processing of food, the use of pesticides and agricultural seed, or the proper care of livestock.

Construction

Local and state governments employ construction and building inspectors to ensure that a structure adheres to national and state building codes. You might evaluate the adequacy of a building's design plans, foundation, or electrical systems. Some inspectors examine public works construction such as bridges and dams.

Corporate Officers

Many private companies hire their own compliance officers to catch and prevent any improper conduct before they are charged with a violation. Also known as compliance managers, these officers create corporate policies to ensure that government regulations are enforced. Two industries that hire compliance managers are healthcare and finance.

Healthcare

As a healthcare compliance manager, you may work for hospitals and clinics to prevent false medical claims or ensure physicians' proper conduct. You may also be responsible for overseeing disciplinary actions and performing self-audits.

Finance

As a financial compliance officer, you could help banks or similar institutions adhere to federal regulations protecting consumers. You may oversee the work of internal auditors or help ensure the accuracy of expense accounts and other financial documents.

Salary Info and Job Outlook

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS, www.bls.gov), the average annual salary earned by compliance officers was $72,520 in May 2018; officers employed by the federal government earned an average of $82,910 a year in 2018. The employment of compliance officers is expected to grow by 8% between 2016 and 2026, per the BLS.