Compliance Officer

Job Description:

Compliance officers make sure a company follows all relevant legal and internal rules. They play an active role in managing a firm's risk and reducing financial crime.

Job Category:
Professional Services

What you will do:

Your day-to-day duties might include:

  • performing risk assessments
  • making sure the company is compliant with laws, regulations and internal policies
  • educating other employees on regulations and what can happen if a company doesn’t follow them
  • reviewing and setting standards for outside communications (for example, by requiring disclaimers in emails or external documents)
  • investigating irregularities and non-compliance issues
  • putting contingency plans in place that set guidelines on how to respond to a possible compliance breach

You’ll make sure a business adheres to external rules (such as relevant laws) and internal controls (which often help to minimise risk).


You’ll need:

  • the ability to work with numbers
  • to be able to work with computers and software packages

As well as:

  • be attentive to detail
  • strong analytical, problem-solving skills
  • the ability to work well with others (teamwork skills)
  • communication skills, to interpret complex rules and explain them to others
  • problem-solving skills, to help you apply rules to real-life situations (adaptability skills)
  • organisational skills
  • being detail-oriented, ethical, and having a strong sense of integrity are also essential qualities for success in this role.
Illustration of employee looking at workspace

Entry Requirements:


A position as a compliance officer or manager is not typically deemed as entry-level. Bachelor’s degrees are normally a minimum requirement, and some employers may look for advanced degrees, like a law degree or a master’s degree in business administration (MBA), especially to qualify for a higher-level position.

In addition, a number of internationally-recognized courses are available through the International Compliance Association (ICA). The courses range from Level 2 (introductory) to Level 7 (expert) and cover areas such as anti money laundering, cyber risk and financial crime prevention.

In the USA, Compliance officers in other sectors have the opportunity to complete the Certified Compliance and Ethics Professional Program (CCEP) through the Society of Corporate Compliance and Ethics (SCCE). The CCEP requires participation in an intensive prerequisite course along with the successful passing of an exam. Similar designation and certification courses are available through the Ethics and Compliance Officer Association (ECOA).

School Subjects

To become a Compliance Officer in the UK, specific GCSE subjects are not mandatory, but certain subjects can be beneficial in providing a foundation for the necessary skills and knowledge in this field, such as:

  1. Mathematics: Strong mathematical skills are essential for analyzing data, financial records, and conducting risk assessments.
  2. English: Good language and communication skills are important for interpreting regulations, writing reports, and effectively communicating compliance requirements to stakeholders.
  3. Business Studies: This subject can provide insights into business ethics, corporate governance, and an understanding of the regulatory environment.
  4. Economics: Studying economics can help in understanding macroeconomic factors and the impact of regulations on business operations.
  5. ICT (Information and Communication Technology): Knowledge of ICT is valuable for managing data, using compliance software, and understanding digital compliance challenges.
  6. Law or Government and Politics: While not mandatory, studying law or politics can provide a foundational understanding of legal systems, governance, and regulatory frameworks.

Working Hours and Environment:

Because many industries now face some kind of regulation, you could find work in any of these areas:

  • digital and technology
  • environment services
  • financial services
  • pharmaceuticals
  • accountancy
  • charity/not-for-profit

Most compliance officers work full-time hours within an office environment, though some travel between locations is also common.

Career Path & Progression:

With experience, you could progress to a more senior position, such as a compliance manager, compliance project manager, risk and regulatory compliance manager, compliance associate, or fraud investigator.

Because compliance is a fast-growing field, the rate of career progression also tends to be quick compared to other sectors. Many junior compliance officers are promoted to more senior positions within two to four years.

You might also choose to work as a compliance consultant for a financial services firm.