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What Does a Compliance Specialist Do?

By Susan Grindstaff
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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The job description for a compliance specialist could include many duties, but the main focus of the job is to make sure the employer is in compliance with laws and regulations that apply to the business. The exact regulations would naturally depend on the type of business involved. Most of the time, only large business interests have the need to employ a compliance specialist on a full-time basis. People who work in this field often work for private firms that outsource their personnel for the purpose of conducting yearly reviews for various companies.

Though it is usually not necessary that this employee have a law degree, it is usually preferable that he or she has some background in law. This is because the specialists are often required to navigate some very complex laws and regulations. In order to perform the job well, an understanding of legalese is usually considered crucial. In many cases, those who work as compliance specialists have specific areas of expertise. For instance, some may work in the banking or financial industry because they have a unique understanding of regulations that apply to that specific type of business.

A compliance specialist may also be important when new products are being launched. In this type of situation, the specialist could be required to be sure the new product met all safety requirements and had undergone appropriate testing. They might also be required to review marketing materials to establish that the materials are in compliance with laws regulating advertising. The specialist might review advertising to be sure it was age appropriate and that no misleading claims were made.

In order to find employment as a compliance specialist, an applicant should have at least a bachelor’s degree in an industry-related field. New hires should probably expect to start out in an entry-level position, working under the supervision of a compliance manager. Many companies expect employees in this field to undergo continuing education and training so they remain current on new laws or regulations that may affect the business.

The salary expectations for a compliance specialist usually depend on education and experience. In the United States, the average yearly salary for this position is around $60,000 US dollars (USD). On the higher spectrum, this job may pay as much as $75,000 USD. If the specialist can work his way up to the job of compliance manager, he could see his wages rise to as much as $125,000 per year.

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Discussion Comments

By lovealot — On Aug 04, 2011

Colleges and universities collect a lot of personal information from their students. Because there is so much concern about protection of our personal information, many laws and regulations have been passed for keeping our personal information secure.

Institutions of higher learning really need compliance specialists to interpret the security regulations and to make sure the schools are complying with them.

I think that it must take a lot of organization and communication to coordinate compliance on so many different security laws with so many departments at colleges and universities.

By Clairdelune — On Aug 03, 2011

The banking and finance institutions need compliance specialists, who check thoroughly on the practices of dealing with the handling of huge amounts of money. They need to know about the various regulations that govern banking and finance.

Financial institutions need to use a regulatory compliance specialist, because there are so many regulations and those regulations can change often.

Financial practices are complicated and ever changing. Compliance specialist in the financial field should take continuing education classes or seminars to keep abreast of new regulations.

By JaneAir — On Aug 03, 2011

@SZapper - That does sound stressful. I think at any job it's stressful when anyone comes in to inspect your office or your work.

I think that overall, having a compliance specialist is a good thing though. What if you were making mistakes and you didn't realize it? Then it might be good for the specialist to come in and inspect everything and figure it out! I'm sure you guys would get a warning before they just stopped doing business with you!

By SZapper — On Aug 03, 2011

I've dealt with compliance specialists before. It wasn't a very fun experience.

The agency I work for is basically like a franchise. The company can "terminate their relationship" with the agency at any time. And one of the reasons they can do this is if the agency isn't compliant with their rules.

When the compliance specialist comes, it's usually very stressful. Even if we've been following the rules, there is always a chance something might be amiss and we didn't notice it.

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