While the Securities and Exchange Commission’s headquarters is in Washington, D.C., there are regional offices in 11 cities: Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Denver, Fort Worth, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, Philadelphia, Salt Lake City and San Francisco. Job website Glassdoor reports that SEC examiner salaries range from $90,000 to $161,000. Pay levels can vary based on job description, years of service and location.
In addition to the annual salary, SEC examiners receive many other benefits as a federal employee. Entry-level examiners get 13 days of paid vacation every year, which goes up over time to 26 days per year. They get 13 days of paid sick leave with no requirement to use it each year. There are 10 paid holidays each year.
Applying to become an SEC examiner can be a lengthy process due to the agency's tangential involvement with the government as an independent regulatory institution. You are required to apply in response to a specific job posting. Entry-level positions are open to college graduates with degrees in finance and business or a degree that includes six credits of accounting and 18 other credits of business-related coursework.
There has been a lot of discussion about SEC examiner salaries in the past. In the early 2000s, compensation for SEC examiners was much lower and fell behind that of workers at some other financial agencies (the FDIC among them), and pay differences were as much as 36 percent. Old job postings show salaries ranging as low as $59,000. In the latter part of the decade, however, due to the financial crisis, SEC examiners were put on a different scale (rather than the general GS, General Schedule, pay scale used for most federal employees). This new pay scale, entitled SK, allows for SEC examiners to be paid more than general federal employees. SEC employees now earn pay similar to other banking regulatory officials at the FDIC. Entry-level examiners begin at the SK-7 pay level with salaries of more than $120,000.
SEC examiners work in the SEC’s Office of Compliance Inspections and Examinations. That office oversees exams for new entries to the broker or investment adviser fields, as well as the stock markets and other exchanges. If an examiner identifies a transaction or individual for investigation, she will do background research, perform on-site interviews and review financial records. Any potential violations are referred to the SEC’s Enforcement Division.