State and federal regulations govern a many aspects of society. Regulations exist in, among other areas, food, utilities, energy, health care, medicine, the environment and taxes. In heavily regulated industries, large companies that have significant regulatory responsibilities hire regulatory compliance employees. Typically, employees in the regulatory compliance field are lawyers, accountants or other financial specialists who help make sure the company meets its legal, regulatory and financial obligations. In some industries, individuals with scientific or medical backgrounds may work in the regulatory compliance field.
The overarching responsibility for regulatory compliance professionals is to ensure that their company complies with applicable federal regulations. Financial institutions should comply with applicable financial regulations. Energy companies must comply with relevant environmental and other regulations. Pharmaceutical companies should comply with applicable medical and scientific regulations. All companies are governed by federal tax laws and regulations, as well as pertinent financial requirements. Regulatory compliance professionals work to ensure companies remain in compliance with all regulations, mitigate potential liabilities and help avoid penalties, sanctions or other legal punishment.
Regulatory compliance professional typically help create and implement organizational policies, standards and procedures to comply with applicable regulations. In addition, they may enforce standards through disciplinary policies to ensure the organization achieves and maintains government compliance. Finally, regulatory compliance professionals should maintain open lines of communication with all relevant decision makers and stakeholders to keep all parties informed of regulatory changes.
Many regulatory compliance professionals are attorneys. Attorneys must have a four-year undergraduate degree and a law degree. In addition, attorneys must have passed and be admitted to at least one state bar association. Regulatory compliance accountants must have a bachelor’s degree in accounting and most employers require that accountants pass the Certified Public Accountant examination. Depending on the industry and field, educational requirements may vary for regulatory compliance professionals. However, whether a lawyer, accountant, scientist or financial manager, regulatory compliance professionals must possess at least a bachelor’s degree and some specialization in the relevant field.
Regulatory compliance professionals should have strong analytical skills, pay careful attention to detail and have an investigative mindset. Another important qualification for regulatory compliance professionals is the ability to digest large, complex volumes of information and summarize and synthesize that large volume of information for wide dissemination. Because they are responsible for creating and implementing policies that comply with complex, often dense, regulatory information, that skill is particularly important.
The field of regulatory compliance is complex and sophisticated. It requires experienced, well-qualified professionals with relevant educational backgrounds. Accordingly, median income for regulatory compliance managers is about $91,000 per year with generous benefits, as of November 2009. Some specialized regulatory compliance professionals, such as lawyers and accountants may earn higher salaries on average as well.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimated that job growth in fields typically associated with regulatory compliance will grow at an average pace from 2008 to 2018. Laws and regulations were expected to continue to increase, making the field more relevant than ever before. Competition, however, for these types of jobs was seen continuing to be intense, particularly for attorney positions due to the large number of law school graduates entering the labor market each year.