What Is a Chief Compliance Officer (CCO)?

Lauren Pope
Lauren Pope  |  June 24, 2019

Complaining about compliance won’t get you anywhere.

Hiring someone to handle your compliance program will. If you’ve ever seen the stories about large scale corporate data breaches, malicious compliance, or illegal business dealings, you’ve probably asked yourself how this could happen. The answer? A lack of a comprehensive compliance program.

But having a compliance program in place isn’t enough- you need someone to manage it.

What is a Chief Compliance Officer?

A Chief Compliance Officer (CCO) is the person in charge of overseeing and maintaining compliance within an organization. They usually report to the Chief Executive Officer and work with outside regulatory bodies to keep a company up to date on compliance.

What does a Chief Compliance Officer do?

The role of a Chief Compliance Officer is dependent on the industry they work in. A CCO working in a field like finance or healthcare will have more compliance measures to track and maintain compared to one working in the public sector. Because each industry has its own standards for compliance, no two jobs are ever the same.

That being said, there are some general responsibilities that every CCO can expect to handle.

  • The CCO is responsible for creating company policy needed to maintain compliance, as well as training employees on these policies
  • The CCO is responsible for monitoring and measuring the effectiveness of company compliance programs
  • The CCO should investigate any potential violations of legal or regulatory compliance requirements
  • The CCO is in charge of communicating with the corporate governing body about anything related to compliance

The primary role of a Chief Compliance Officer is prevention. Companies don’t hire a CCO to put out fires to your company, they hire them to prevent fires in the first place. Understanding how to do the job is only the first step. The right skills are what make a great Chief Compliance Officer.

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What skills does a Chief Compliance Officer need?

Landing a job is all about proving that you have the right skills.

It’s important to understand what skills employers are looking for in a CCO. Likewise, if you’re looking to hire a CCO for the first time, you need to know what skills a potential new hire should have. These are the top five skills for a Chief Compliance Officer according to Payscale.

Chief Compliance Officer Skills
 

A good Chief Compliance Officer doesn’t need all of the skills listed above. You don’t need to be a lawyer or an IT genius to land a job as a CCO. However, these skills are in high-demand for the position for a reason. The more of these technical skills you possess, the easier your job search will be. Even the best Chief Compliance Officer needs a little help sometimes. Learn how G2 Track can help.

How much money does a Chief Compliance Officer make?

According to Payscale, the average salary of a Chief Compliance Officer in the United States is $112,648. For the most part, CCO’s can enjoy a comfortable six-figure salary with as little as five years experience in the role.

Chief Compliance Officer Salary
 

However, as with most jobs, the amount CCO’s get paid will vary depending on location, industry, and years of experience. Whether you’re looking to become a CCO or hire one, be sure to do your salary research to ensure you’re staying within the industry average.

What education does a Chief Compliance Officer need?

Depending on where you are in your career, you might be considering going back to school to aid in your CCO job search. Or maybe you’re an employer who is unsure what educational experience your new CCO should have.

Whatever the case, this is the education experience most companies will look for in a CCO:

1. Undergraduate degree

According to a study from Georgetown University, job-growth since the Great Recession was greatest for those holding a bachelor's degree or higher. And while it’s projected that only 31 percent of jobs in 2010 required postsecondary education and training, the fact remains that having an undergraduate degree makes jobseekers more competitive.

2. Graduate degree

Most companies want a Chief Compliance Officer who has completed a Master’s in business or a related field.

The most sought after graduate degrees for a CCO role are:

  • Master of Science (M.S.) in Operations Management
  • Master of Science (M.S.) in Management
  • Master of Business Administration (M.B.A.)

The reason graduate-level education is so highly sought after is because it provides additional experience with leadership and operations knowledge.

3. Certification

While not required, specialized certification can give job candidates the edge when seeking work as a CCIO. The most common certifications for a compliance officer are Certified Professional Compliance Officer (CPCO) and Certified Regulatory Compliance Manager (CRCM).

It’s important to remember that these education guidelines are not requirements. Some companies will accept experience over a degree, it just depends on the industry and job you’re targeting.

Put it all together and what have you got?

The complete guide for becoming (or hiring) a Chief Compliance Officer. If you’re looking for more information about compliance, consider checking out our piece on GCR.

Lauren Pope
Author

Lauren Pope

Lauren is a Senior Content Specialist at G2 with five years of content marketing experience. You can find her work featured on CNBC, Yahoo Finance, and on the G2 Learning Hub. In her free time, Lauren enjoys listening to podcasts, watching true crime shows, and spending time in the Chicago karaoke scene.