Because rules and regulations for running a business have become so complex, many companies turn to compliance specialists, or compliance officers or analysts, to ensure that their facilities follow the law. These specialists study regulatory documents and rulings, and then meet with managers and staff to give recommendations on meeting all applicable guidelines.


Compliance specialists earned a mean $63,760 per year, or $30.66 per hour, as of May 2011, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. However, the lowest earning 10 percent made $34,920, or $16.79, while the best-paid 10 percent received $96,680, or $46.48. Compliance specialists examine company operations through internal audits and periodic inspections. They review promotional materials and technical reports to ensure that they comply with all applicable policies. They interpret regulatory rules and changes, determine the documentation required, and advise project teams on all regulatory requirements. They also prepare submissions requested by regulatory agencies.


In 2011, the employer with the most jobs for compliance specialists was the federal government. It contained 24 percent of the 210,510 compliance positions and paid a mean $71,950 annually, or $34.59 per hour. State governments were next, with 13 percent and means at $48,640, or $23.38, followed by local government, with 12 percent and averages at $53,380, or $25.66. The state with the most jobs was California, with 11 percent of all specialists and mean wages of $73,050, or $35.12. For cities, New York topped the opportunity list with 4 percent of the jobs and average pay at $78,490, or $37.74.


The industry with the highest pay for compliance officers was oil and gas extraction, with average wages at $93,610 per year, or $45.01 hourly. Following this were other financial investment activities, such as portfolio management and investment advices. It paid $83,850, or $40.31. Ranking third for compensation was the Postal Service, paying $82,650, or $39.74. The District of Columbia, which the BLS classified with states, showed the highest wages, averaging $83,140 annually, or $39.97. For cities, Bridgeport, Connecticut, had the best salaries at $91,730, or $44.10 hourly.


About 78 percent of compliance specialists had bachelor’s degrees, according to ONET OnLine, with 16 percent showing master’s degrees. Acceptable courses of study include compliance, business, economics or a field related to the hiring industry. For example, if you wanting a position in environmental compliance, you can study environmental sciences. Many employers also require experience in a technical field related to their businesses.

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