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31 Jul

Why You Should Pursue a Job in Corporate Compliance

Corporate-Compliance-Officer-With-Laptop

In 2014, the Wall Street Journal named compliance officer the Hottest Job in America.1 As companies faced fines, penalties, stricter business laws and regulations, and increased enforcement, the demand for experienced corporate compliance professionals boomed.

Cut to 2019, and while the hiring boom has slowed to a more consistent projected growth rate of 8 percent through 2026 (as fast as average for all occupations),2 corporate compliance professionals are still as necessary as ever. The Department of Justice recently released the Evaluation of Corporate Compliance Programs Guidance Document,3 which Kristi Grant-Hart, CEO of Spark Compliance Consulting, described as a reason for compliance officers to “rejoice, reflect and re-educate” because the document “unequivocally supports our role, especially in places where we’ve had trouble making a case with specificity (e.g., resources).”4

Whether you currently work in another field and want to move into compliance, or if you want to advance in your corporate compliance career, here are three reasons why you should feel good about working in compliance.

For many companies, compliance is a more crucial aspect of business than ever before.

As long as industry exists, so will rules and regulations that govern it to protect people and assets. Technological advances in business, such as the move toward automation and artificial intelligence (AI), present unique challenges in regards to ethics and compliance. Deborah Adleman, a Director with Ernst & Young LLP where she is an executive within the Office of Ethics and Compliance and Risk Management, described two real-world examples of ethics and social responsibility issues that arose from AI algorithms:5

  • A popular home assistant device illustrated its baked-in gender bias
  • An AI hiring solution that used zip-code-based data precluded certain ethnicities from being considered for hire

Technology sometimes moves faster than it should, resulting in missteps that can damage a company’s reputation. As Adleman said, “Just because we can, should we?” Corporate compliance teams will be called upon to determine if new technology meets a company’s ethical and social responsibility standards. You can prove your value as a compliance professional by staying up to date with emerging trends in AI and the evolving regulations surrounding it.

Compliance is rewarding.

It takes a special breed to succeed in compliance, as we discussed in our blog post, The Role of a Compliance Officer in Business, where we highlighted five key traits for a compliance officer: integrity, agility, expertise, charisma, and transparency. Most corporate compliance positions require a broad spectrum of skills because compliance professionals are required to seamlessly transition from disparate tasks on a daily basis. One minute, you may be asked to draft a formal recommendation on how to handle an employee’s breach of the code of conduct, and the next you might present the results of an audit on your company’s corporate compliance program to executives.

Most corporate compliance roles come with a great deal of responsibility, but if you can handle the pressure of the job, you’ll find that you have the opportunity not only to serve as an expert resource on risk and compliance, influencing high-level decisions at your company, you will also have the chance to create a culture of ethics, integrity, and accountability.

Compliance is lucrative.

Working in compliance is personally, professionally, and financially rewarding. In the legal field, in jobs ranging from a junior-level compliance analyst to seasoned compliance director, the national average for salaries ranges from $58,000 to $186,000.6 When adjusted for market variance in the San Francisco region, that equates to $81,780 to $262,260.

In corporate accounting, compliance jobs ranging from compliance analyst to chief compliance officer (CCO) pay a national average of $63,500 to $265,750, or $89,535 to $374,708 when adjusted for the San Francisco market variance. According to Robert Half, the top-paying position for compliance professionals is a CCO in financial services, who can expect to earn up to $313,500, which equates to $442,035 in the San Francisco market.7

Add a Corporate Compliance Credential to Your Resume

In as little as one year, you can become an expert in compliance with the Online Master of Legal Studies (MLS) in Corporate Compliance from Santa Clara University School of Law. Read more about our dynamic online experience, including the virtual corporation where you will navigate real-world compliance scenarios.


1 Retrieved on July 12, 2019, from wsj.com/articles/the-business-of-risk-is-booming-1389832893
2 Retrieved on July 12, 2019, from bls.gov/ooh/about/data-for-occupations-not-covered-in-detail.htm
3 Retrieved on July 12, 2019, from justice.gov/criminal-fraud/page/file/937501/download
4 Retrieved on July 12, 2019, from complianceandethics.org/10-critical-lessons-for-compliance-officers-from-the-new-doj-evaluation-guidelines/
5 Retrieved on July 11, 2019, from complianceandethics.org/deborah-adleman-on-compliance-and-ethics-concerns-with-ai-podcast/
6 Retrieved on July 19, 2019, from roberthalf.com/sites/default/files/documents_not_indexed/2019_Salary_Guide_Legal_NA_5.pdf
7 Retrieved on June 19, 2019, from roberthalf.com/sites/default/files/documents_not_indexed/2019_Salary_Guide_Financial_US_0.pdf