What is the Average Chief Compliance Officer Salary?

Working in the legal department is already complicated, but working as a compliance officer can be even trickier. The average salary of compliance officers can vary greatly depending on whether they’re working in corporate or in the government. Reaching the chief compliance officer salary is what all compliance officers aspire for. 

Chief compliance officer salaries mostly depend on the industry, the complexity of the compliance standards, years of experience, and the organization. However, on average, the chief compliance officer salary is much higher than the national average. 

In this article, we’ll go over the chief compliance officer salary, along with their duties, responsibilities, and the path to become the ideal chief compliance officer. If you’re interested in learning via video, then watch below:

Let’s get started. 

Who is Chief Compliance Officer, and What Do CCOs Do? 

The chief compliance officer of an organization or agency monitors, oversees, manages, and ensures all regulatory requirements are taken care of, and all corporate compliance standards are met. 

The chief compliance officer reports directly to the chief executive officer (CEO), chief financial officer (CFO), and chief information officer (CIO). In some companies, the chief compliance officer is also called the compliance director or Vice President of Compliance. 

Under the CCO, you will see various senior management employees, including compliance managers and risk managers. The CCO also works with the legal department, attorneys, and the office of the general counsel

Primarily, chief compliance officers have to ensure regulatory compliance. However, most companies add additional duties and responsibilities in the job description. Therefore, it’s hard to list down the exact roles and duties that come with the job title of the chief compliance officer. 

Furthermore, chief compliance officers also deal with risk management, business administration, and analytical research. 

At times, the chief compliance officer can face conflicts of interest where they may have to report on substandard compliance issues that may cause damage to the organization. However, CCOs have to always ensure regulatory compliance, even if it means that the organization will face some kind of loss. 

However, that’s precisely why chief compliance officers need excellent research and analytical skills. They have to monitor, assess, and figure out any possible changes in regulations and laws to develop contingencies. Therefore, CCOs need to understand the organization they work in to develop proactive solutions to any regulatory changes. 

Typical Duties and Responsibilities of a Chief Compliance Officer 

In any case, the typical duties and responsibilities of a chief compliance officer depend on the industry, company, or agency. 

However, on average, a chief compliance officer has the following responsibilities on the daily. 

  • Report directly to the CEO, CFO, and CIO, offering compliance-related recommendations, advice, and updates. 
  • Define the appropriate level of knowledge needed by each employee according to regulatory and compliance standards. 
  • Develop annual compliance work plans in accordance with the company’s characteristics. 
  • Oversee, manage, and monitor the implementation of the compliance program
  • Revise the compliance plan according to organizational and regulatory changes, if required. 
  • Monitor, read, and analyze compliance reviews to better understand company compliance. 
  • Manage compliance teams and to ensure efficiency and compliance. 
  • Provide guidance, advice, and training to different departments of the organization. 
  • Work with the legal department and the general counsel to ensure legal compliance. 
  • Analyze and develop risk assessments, along with the risk management department. 

The exact duties, tasks, and responsibilities of chief compliance officers vary in different circumstances. However, the duties listed above are usually included with most of the job alerts for a chief compliance officer. 

What is the Average Chief Compliance Officer Salary in the United States? 

The chief compliance officer is full-time and the highest position in the compliance department. In most cases, the chief compliance officer earns the industry standard; however, some organizations and governmental agencies tend to pay more. For example, during your job search, you’ll find that the chief compliance officer makes more money in the finance industry. 

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) includes all compliance officers in one category. That includes everyone from compliance officers to chief compliance officers. According to BLS, the average base salary for compliance officers in the United States is $72,850. On average, compliance officers in the federal government earn more than CCOs working in the local or state departments. 

However, chief compliance officers make more in organizations compared to federally appointed CCOs. 

In any case, it’s best to look at a few other sources to understand how much a chief compliance officer makes, according to individual salary reports. 

  1. Glassdoor 

Glassdoor is a well-known website to find salary estimates and reviews. Employees can upload their annual salary reports, review employers, enter the cost of living estimates, benefits information, and total compensation values. 

According to Glassdoor, the national average base salary for chief compliance officers is $149,943. The average salary range is between $83,000 and $218,000. 

You can check various salary estimates accordingly by adding filters. Glassdoor lets you add the following filters. 

  • Choose your specific industry or add any industry you’re curious about. 
  • The overall size of the company according to the average number of employees. 
  • Total years of experience in any position related to the job title. 

You can add various filters to make your search more specific. The more filters you add, the more precise the salary estimate. 

Most compensation data on Glassdoor is calculated using the salary reports of different employees. However, in some cases, companies also add their average salaries. 

In any case, it’s best to add as many filters as you can to get the most precise figure. 

  1. Indeed 

Indeed is a massive job-search engine used by millions of people in the United States. However, it’s also a great place to check out salary estimates, job descriptions, and more. 

According to Indeed, the average salary for a chief compliance officer in the United States is $123,119. Furthermore, CCOs get approximately $15,000 in profit-sharing as additional compensation. 

The site also lists the most common benefits chief compliance officers get. Some of those benefits include parental leaves, an on-site gym, flexible spending amounts, life insurance, pet insurance, and healthcare benefits. 

Indeed also shows you the highest-paying cities for chief compliance officers. Cities in California pay the most with Alameda and San Francisco at the top. They’re followed by Salt Lake City and New York City, with Florida cities in the lower percentile. 

  1. PayScale 

PayScale is one of the few websites that’s dedicated to providing salary estimates, total compensation values, and information on various benefits. The site also offers gender-based pay estimates, cost of living estimates, and other pay-related information. 

According to PayScale, the average median salary for chief compliance officers is $119,815. That brings the average hourly rate to $26.76. 

Furthermore, chief compliance officers can also earn up to $19,576 in bonuses and up to $8,500 in profit-sharing. 

The total pay range for chief compliance officers averages between $68,000 and $203,000. 

PayScale also displays where you can find the highest-paid jobs for CCOs. According to the site, chief compliance officer jobs in San Francisco, New York, Chicago, Boston, and Los Angeles pay the most. 

What’s the Roadmap to Becoming a Chief Compliance Officer? 

Becoming a chief compliance officer is the top position in the compliance world. Reaching that point requires years of experience, knowledge of various industries, and a keen understanding of regulatory bodies. 

In any case, becoming a chief compliance officer usually goes about with the following roadmap. 

  • Get a bachelor’s degree in any law-related field. Getting a Juris Doctor degree is preferred by most organizations but not necessary. 
  • It’s also best to get a master’s degree in a related field. 
  • Continue your professional development by becoming a compliance officer or by getting any related jobs. Benchmark yourself against other compliance jobs. 
  • Spend time in the legal department to get a better understanding of how compliance standards, laws, and regulations work. 
  • Get at least seven to ten years of experience to become an expert on compliance. 
  • After that experience, you can apply for the chief compliance officer. However, it’s best to apply in the industry you’re used to. 

Furthermore, you should also work to develop your soft skills along with your hard skills. It’s crucial to have analytical, research, communication, and problem-solving skills. 

Ending Note 

The chief compliance officer salary mostly depends on your industry and organization. However, your overall experience and qualifications play a role too. 

In any case, any organization determines the chief compliance officer salary using your overall experience, knowledge, and understanding of the industry. 

Becoming a chief compliance officer takes time and dedication. However, once you reach the level of the chief compliance officer salary, it’s one of the highest average salaries in the United States.

By Josh Fechter

Josh Fechter is a partner at Corporate Compliance HQ and has founded several companies in software and training.