Compliance professionals play a vital role in companies and organizations, ensuring they are adhering to the various laws, regulations and other standards that govern their specific industries. They are also needed across a swath of fields and sectors, including business, health care, government, technology and more.
If you’re considering a career in compliance, or if your current role deals heavily with compliance and the related legal issues, a Compliance Certificate can deepen your knowledge and skill sets to implement the required programs and protocols in your workplace.
To gain a better understanding of the career options available to those who earn a legal certificate in compliance, we spoke with Nazanin Tondravi, a compliance lecturer in law at USC Gould School of Law.
What Is Compliance?
In basic terms, compliance refers to the act of conforming to the laws and rules that oversee a certain industry. For example, hospitals must not only follow general laws, but also abide by specific medical regulations.
Usually, within a company, there are numerous individuals who guarantee that the organization is complying with the law.
“I think that’s what’s most exciting is that basically every field needs someone in a compliance role,” Tondravi said.
What Is a Certificate in Compliance?
While many compliance professionals have earned their Juris Doctor (JD) — a prerequisite to sitting for the bar exam and potentially becoming a lawyer — not everyone in the field is a lawyer, and it certainly isn’t a requirement.
There are other law programs, however, that you can pursue to advance your knowledge in compliance, including the online Compliance Certificate at USC Gould.
The Compliance Certificate, accredited by the Compliance Certification Board (CCB), can be completed in three semesters and does not require applicants to have taken the LSAT or possess any prior experience in law.
The certificate focuses on the ins and outs of compliance, advancing students’ legal terminology, providing practical experience with compliance issues and emphasizing critical thinking skills.
While the certificate is certainly an asset for a compliance career, it’s not mandatory to pursue a role in the field. To thrive in the industry, you will need experience, which you can gain through various work positions — or educational pursuits.
“The first role is the hardest, but after that, once you’re in it, it’s a pretty small community. So, there’s a lot of opportunity once you have that first role,” Tondravi added.
In addition to the Compliance Certificate, students may also pursue a specialized graduate certificate in Financial Compliance, Health Care Compliance, or Human Resources Law and Compliance.
Careers in Compliance
As compliance is essential for almost every type of company, you can find positions across a diverse array of fields. Whether it’s in banking, government, health care, entertainment, sports or practically any other sector you can think of, there are likely compliance position available.
Below, we’ve highlighted a few career options where a background in compliance will prove highly beneficial.
Human Resources (HR) Manager
Human resources (HR) managers are entrusted with upholding a company’s rules and policies, so naturally, compliance comes into play.
Of course, HR managers need to have an understanding of employment law to ensure all employees are being treated fairly — but they should also be versed in the laws that govern their industry so they can identify and address any potential issues.
Essentially, understanding HR law and compliance is a key component of an HR manager’s responsibilities.
Hospitals, medical clinics and doctors’ offices can be susceptible to a multitude of issues, and when health care regulations are not followed, patients can face serious harm.
Therefore, health care organizations must closely follow certain laws and procedures to guarantee the safety and protection of both patients and staff.
Given the complexity of health care compliance and the elevated risks involved, having a foundational understanding of the rules and regulations is a major benefit for any hospital administrator. That way, they can ensure the safe and seamless operation of their health care facilities.
Government Ethics Officer
While the government is responsible for creating and establishing laws, that doesn’t mean its representatives aren’t capable of violating them.
That’s where government ethics officers come in: They are responsible for making sure public officials are complying with certain legal mandates and ethical standards.
The role is crucial in preventing those in government from abusing their authority, allowing them to uphold objectives that benefit the general welfare.
NGO Compliance Officers
Just like the government, NGOs and nonprofits also require compliance officers to confirm that ethical codes are in place and being followed.
In the realm of fundraising and donation management, there is always the potential for ethical lapses, like misused funds. So, NGO compliance officers ensure their organizations are conforming to the applicable local, state and federal laws that govern the conduct and activities of nonprofits.
Ethical missteps can doom the future of an NGO, as public trust is crucial to its operation. That’s why a skilled NGO compliance officer is necessary to maintain organizational integrity and safeguard donor confidence and resources.
IT Security Specialist
Cybersecurity is a top priority for any company: One virus can decimate an entire organization, or a hack can expose private information to the larger public. IT security specialists devise ways to keep an organization’s online networks safe.
In the technology world, there are also plenty of specialized regulations and standards that must be followed, which is why obtaining a compliance certificate can be so useful for those working in IT. It equips them with the knowledge, expertise and background to make informed decisions that guarantee the security and compliance of their company’s digital infrastructure.
Business Compliance Officer
Ultimately, every type of business will require a compliance officer. Regardless of the industry, the legal landscape can be complicated, and compliance is essential.
In the financial sector, companies must be particularly vigilant, as managing finances gives rise to a plethora of ethical considerations, which results in strict regulations. Those who are interested in financial compliance can pursue a role as a business compliance officer, overseeing a company’s operations and ensuring all activities align with the requisite standards and regulations.
The Bottom Line
Compliance may appear straightforward in concept — making sure a company or organization follows the industry laws and regulations – but in practice, it becomes more layered and complex.
Armed with the skills gained by a compliance certificate, you can embark on a variety of career paths in almost every industry. It is possible to become a lawyer (with the right degree), but you can also pursue jobs that place a strong emphasis on compliance knowledge.
At the end of the day, having a deep understanding of the law is a valuable skill that can provide a significant boost for nearly any profession.
Learn more about the online Compliance Certificate program at USC Gould School of Law today.