Compliance Officer Salary Guide

Updated September 26, 2022 · 6 Min Read

Compliance officers manage organizational risk and earn excellent pay for their work. Explore ways to increase your earnings with this compliance officer salary guide.

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Compliance officers ensure that their employers follow all relevant regulations and compliance standards. Their work has a crucial impact, considering the high costs of non-compliance.

In 2020, two Morgan Stanley business divisions amassed $60 million in fines for failing to follow data protection guidelines. The following year, JPMorgan received a $125 million fine for record-keeping oversights. These incidents reveal the depths of the financial penalties for non-compliance.

This guide explores compliance officer salary trends. It examines the various factors affecting salaries and offers insights on how compliance professionals can realize their full earning potential.

How Much Do Compliance Officers Make?

Compliance officers earn strong salaries. Payscale data from September 2022 puts their average base annual salaries at just over $71,000. According to Payscale, the bottom 10% of compliance officers earned about $46,000 annually, while the top 10% made around $114,000 per year.

These figures reflect base salaries only. Compliance officers may also qualify for performance bonuses, profit-sharing bonuses, and other perks. Payscale reports that these income sources added about $2,000-$24,000 per year to the average salary of a compliance officer.

Factors affecting salaries include education, experience, job location, and the industry of employment. The following sections explore these factors in detail.

$71,280
Compliance Officers
Average Annual Salary, September 2022

Source: Payscale

Compliance Specialist Salary by Education

A professional can take many pathways to become a compliance officer. Compliance professionals come from varied academic backgrounds — common majors include business administration, economics, finance, and law or legal studies.

Entry-level positions typically require at least a bachelor's degree. However, the compliance officer role is not considered entry-level, so a master's degree in a relevant area can increase your chances of earning a promotion.

Compliance professionals can also obtain certifications. These credentials may be optional or required, depending on the industry. For instance, compliance professionals working in the healthcare and finance industries often need specialized certifications to advance their careers.

The table below summarizes the degrees and certifications commonly held by compliance officers, along with average salaries for professionals who hold each qualification. Note the strong links between specialized, advanced education and higher average earnings.

Salary by Experience

The average salary of a compliance officer tends to increase with experience. As shown in the table below, they often experience consistent salary jumps at every stage of their careers.

These figures only reflect base salaries. Compliance officers may qualify for additional compensation depending on their employer's policies. These could include performance bonuses and profit-sharing proceeds.

Experience also typically correlates with better job performance. As such, compliance officers beyond the entry-level and early-career stages may enjoy advantages by earning bonuses.

Salary by Location

Like many other professionals, compliance officers may earn more or less based on where they work. Location-based factors that can influence their earnings include:

  • Demand level for compliance officers in the area
  • Competitive factors in the local job market
  • Local cost of living

For example, the demand for compliance officers is especially high in Washington, D.C., where the job is 83% more prevalent than the national average.

Along similar lines, compliance officers working in Connecticut tend to earn higher pay than in other parts of the country. The insurance industry is subject to strict regulations, creating higher local demand for compliance officers, and the state has a dense concentration of insurance companies.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) tracks compliance officer salary data by location and industry. As of September 2022, the BLS last reported on the compliance officer profession in its Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics handbook in May 2021.

Top-Paying States for Compliance Officers, May 2021
State Number of Compliance Officers Employed Average Annual Salary
District of Columbia 4,440 $98,740
New Hampshire 1,770 $98,110
New Jersey 10,480 $91,520
Massachusetts 7,940 $87,660
Connecticut 3,790 $86,600

Source: BLS

Top-Paying Metropolitan Areas for Compliance Officers, May 2021
Metropolitan Area Number of Compliance Officers Employed Average Annual Salary
San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, CA 2,590 $103,650
San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, CA 6,850 $99,460
California-Lexington Park, MD 90 $96,030
Bridgeport-Stamford-Norwalk, CT 1,080 $93,890
Columbus, IN 70 $93,570

Source: BLS

Where Should I Work as a Compliance Officer?

The BLS entry for compliance officers excludes similar professions grouped into other categories tracked by the agency. The data presented below does not include compliance officers whose job duties align with:

  • Tax examiners
  • Financial examiners
  • Occupational health and safety technicians and specialists

Instead, BLS data for compliance officers looks exclusively at jobs that primarily involve:

  • Analyzing organizational compliance with laws related to licensing and permitting
  • Compliance audits that check for organizational conformity to federal and state regulations
  • Compliance enforcement inspections

BLS projections for compliance officers whose job descriptions match these profiles are as follows:

+4%
Compliance Officers
Change in Projected Employment from 2021-2031

Source: BLS

The BLS classifies the projected 4% growth rate "as fast as the average" for all professions. However, the agency expects much higher growth rates for some similar careers.

As an example, consider financial examiners. Some professionals holding this job title analyze financial records to ensure they meet compliance and reporting standards.

The BLS projects a very rapid 21% growth rate ("much faster than average") for financial examiners in 2021-2031. The agency attributes the strong projection to the increasing scope and complexity of the compliance standards emerging in the global financial services industry.

Best Areas

Compliance officer jobs tend to concentrate in states with a high presence of corporate activity. All levels of government rank among the top employers of compliance officers. As such, professionals in the public sector can also seek employment around Washington, D.C., along with state capitals and county seats.

BLS data takes a nationwide view regarding job growth. However, the BLS-affiliated Projections Central agency tracks state-specific projections for the compliance officer profession.

As noted in the tables below, some parts of the United States expect increases in demand for compliance officers that far exceed the national rate. These mainly include destinations in the western and northeastern regions.

California leads all states in projected growth for compliance officers from 2020-2030. Projections Central predicts the greatest percentage increase in Utah, where demand for compliance officers will soar by more than 25% in this period.

Top-Employing States for Compliance Officers, May 2021
State Number of Compliance Officers Employed Average Annual Salary
California 42,230 $86,030
Texas 29,640 $73,090
Florida 25,680 $65,780
New York 20,540 $85,900
Georgia 12,300 $70,020

Source: BLS

States With the Greatest Projected Increase in Employment for Compliance Officers, 2020-30
State Percent Projected Change, 2020-30 Average Annual Openings
Greatest Projected Percentage Increase
Utah +25.2% 360
Arizona +20.7% 820
Colorado +19.8% 720
New York +17.7% 2,460
Massachusetts +16.9% 810
Most Projected Average Annual Openings
California +9.6% 3,960
Texas +15.4% 2,750
Florida +14.1% 2,520
New York +17.7% 2,460
Pennsylvania +5.7% 1,190

Source: Projections Central

Top-Employing Metropolitan Areas for Compliance Officers, May 2021
Metropolitan Area Number of Compliance Officers Employed Average Annual Salary
New York-Newark-Jersey City, NY-NJ-PA 20,070 $93,440
Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim, CA 14,820 $84,390
Washington, Arlington, Alexandria, DC-VA-MD-WV 12,720 $93,340
Miami-Fort Lauderdale-West Palm Beach, FL 8,890 $72,760
Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington, TX 8,010 $75,030

Source: BLS

Best Industries

Compliance officers work in the private and public sectors. In the private sector, they focus on risk management and ensure their employers' activities conform to all relevant regulations. Heavily regulated industries such as insurance, financial services, and healthcare tend to employ compliance professionals in larger numbers.

In the public sector, compliance officers perform inspections on behalf of governments and enforcement agencies. They also respond to and investigate complaints regarding possible non-compliance. Job numbers are high, but public-sector positions tend to pay less than their private-sector counterparts.

The following tables detail the top industries of employment by earnings and overall job numbers:

Top-Paying Industries for Compliance Officers, May 2021
Industry Number of Compliance Officers Employed Average Annual Salary
Pipeline Transportation of Crude Oil 110 $120,580
Information Services 1,470 $114,700
Motion Picture and Video Industries 250 $109,960
Computer and Peripheral Equipment Manufacturing 210 $108,950
Engine, Turbine, and Power Transmission Equipment Manufacturing 90 $105,200

Source: BLS

Top-Employing Industries for Compliance Officers, May 2021
Industry Number of Compliance Officers Employed Average Annual Salary
Federal Executive Branch (OES Designation) 61,840 $88,260
State Government (OES Designation, excluding schools and hospitals) 37,580 $60,330
Local Government (OES Designation, excluding schools and hospitals) 27,400 $65,640
Management of Companies and Enterprises 19,890 $84,940
Insurance Carriers 11,310 $78,960

Source: BLS

FAQ About the Average Salary of a Compliance Officer

What are the highest-paying compliance jobs?

Compliance officer salary levels are highest in the oil pipeline, information services, motion picture, computer manufacturing, and precision power equipment manufacturing industries.

Where is the best state to work as a compliance officer?

California, Texas, Florida, New York, and Georgia lead all states in compliance officer jobs as of May 2021. Projections Central expects to see the most compliance officer job openings in California, Texas, Florida, New York, and Pennsylvania from 2020-2030.

What is the best industry to work in as a compliance officer?

The oil pipeline, information services, motion picture, computer manufacturing, and engine and power transmission equipment industries are the best sectors for compliance officers, based on pay. Regarding job numbers, the leading industries include government, financial services, enterprise management, and insurance.

Are compliance officers in demand?

Overall, the BLS anticipates a 4% growth rate in compliance officer jobs from 2021-2031. However, growth projections are much higher in some areas. According to Projections Central, Utah, Arizona, Colorado, New York, and Massachusetts are poised to far outpace the national average growth rate from 2021-2031.

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