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Job Description: Compliance Associate

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A compliance associate works under the leadership of a senior professional to review a corporation's internal controls and policies and procedures and to ensure that such controls conform to regulations. An associate also may partner with internal auditors, accountants and tax compliance specialists when performing duties.


A compliance associate helps a company ensure that employees abide by regulatory guidelines, top management's directives and human resources policies when performing their tasks. An associate also ensures that staffs conform to industry practices and professional standards in activities in which they engage. For instance, a compliance associate at an oil and gas company may ensure that the firm's employee safety procedures adhere to Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requirements regarding offshore drilling activities. A compliance aide also ensures that legal elements in corporate transactions adhere to regulatory guidelines. These elements may be permits, securities portfolios and marketing materials.

Education and Training

A compliance associate typically holds a four-year college degree in accounting, law, taxation or finance. An associate also may have a liberal arts background and receive practical training before performing his duties. A compliance associate who holds an advanced degree, such as master's degree or doctorate, is not uncommon in the field. Some associates who have significant responsibilities can have internal audit, law or forensic accounting backgrounds and may hold certified fraud examiner (CFE) or certified internal auditor (CIA) designations.


A compliance associate's salary level may depend on length of service, the company size and seniority. An associate's academic level, professional credentials and practical experience also may affect her total annual compensation. According to Indeed, the average annual salary of a U.S.-based compliance associate was $52,000 as of June 2010, excluding cash bonuses.

Career Development

A compliance associate's career growth opportunities typically depend on staffing needs, the company size and employee professional credentials or academic training. An undergraduate compliance associate can increase his chances of promotion by enrolling in a graduate program in law or finance and receiving a master's or doctorate degree. Alternatively, an associate may be promoted faster if he seeks a professional license such as a certified public accountant (CPA) or certified financial manager (CFM) designation. A competent compliance associate moves to a senior role after two to five years.

Working Conditions

A compliance associate typically works from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekdays but may stay late at the office, depending on business needs. These demands may relate to monthly accounting close procedures or quarterly regulatory filings with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) or the Securities and Exchange Commission. If business needs require it, an associate also may travel periodically to meet with colleagues at other locations.


Marquis Codjia is a New York-based freelance writer, investor and banker. He has authored articles since 2000, covering topics such as politics, technology and business. A certified public accountant and certified financial manager, Codjia received a Master of Business Administration from Rutgers University, majoring in investment analysis and financial management.

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Erik Isakson/DigitalVision/GettyImages