Is a Career in Regulatory Compliance for You?

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Regulatory compliance jobs are found in a variety of fields and industries. From safe handling standards surrounding the packaging and shipping of food products to regulatory laws governing the pharmaceutical industry implemented by the FDA, the scope of career opportunities for the compliance manager is vast. Basically, any industry regulated by laws and standards of operation will have the need for regulatory compliance managers.

Acting as the ''Big Brother'' of an organization, compliance managers are responsible to organize, direct, manage, and coordinate various programs and services related to quality assurance and strict adherence to regulatory standards and laws pertaining to the specific industry. They coordinate activities, aid in the development of standard operating procedures, and act as a liaison with professional review organizations and regulatory or review boards to ensure continued compliance to industry standards.

The regulatory compliance manager may be responsible to design and review policies and procedures related to quality management such as methods of data collection, outcome performance measures, analysis, reporting, and monitoring. They must possess the ability to analyze technical reports, journals, as well as financial and statistical documents. Then, taking the information, the regulatory compliance manager will provide consultation, feedback, and recommendations to the organization according to their findings. Having excellent communication skills is a must, as the compliance manager must respond to inquiries related to quality issues from customers, staff, management, compliance agencies, and others.

Proactive in their approach, the regulatory compliance manager must keep up with changes in any laws that would affect their organization and develop new regulations or programs to ensure continued compliance. The compliance manager will also select specific topics for review, such as problem procedures or other areas at risk of being outside of the compliance parameters. Possessing exceptional reporting and writing skills, the compliance manager is responsible to compile statistical data in order to write narrative reports that summarize quality management findings. A high regard for ethical behavior is key to success in this position as it also involves reporting willful or inadvertent fraudulent activity to management or to the Corporate Compliance Officer.

The largest concentration of regulatory compliance career positions are obviously in the industries that are governed by the most stringent guidelines and laws. These would include insurance, financial, medical, transportation, and the food and drug industries.

Over the next two years, the fastest growing field in need of regulatory compliance will be information technology (IT). With the growth of computer technology and the amount of sensitive information being transferred through online banking, stocks, and other sensitive information, the demand for security is higher than ever. Technology continues to advance at an alarming rate, with sometimes chaotic results. Regulatory compliance careers in the field of technology will be responsible for assessing current effectiveness of security policies as well as developing and implementing new procedures necessary to ensure the confidentiality, integrity, and privacy of sensitive data.

According to US Department of Labor Statistics, employment opportunities over the next five years and beyond look very promising. Government emphasis on safety and quality will continue to fuel the demands for compliance specialists. New positions for the compliance career have evolved in the business sector, including those of corporate compliance officers, compliance analysts, and compliance coordinators.

The tightening of security and safety requirements in the areas of health, construction, and environmental health are creating a need for compliance officers. These officers will collect samples and information, conduct safety testing, as well as design and implement more stringent regulations to prevent the breakdown of production standards and the handling and disposal of harmful substances. Some will be required to work in a more investigative aspect, as with positions that fall under the heading of environmental protection. At times, there may be production plants, nuclear plants, or other manufacturers under investigation for pollution through wastewater or improper handling or disposal of toxins, poisons, or other hazardous materials. The officer may be required to perform laboratory or field tests to determine contaminants or pollution, or they may monitor and conduct physical inventories of toxic substances or hazardous materials

For those considering a career in the field of regulatory compliance, a bachelor's degree with an emphasis in the desired field is the minimum requirement. Many medical and science related compliance careers require a master's degree.

Advancement opportunities are strong, especially in larger industries such as financial corporations, IT related firms, and the healthcare industry. In these larger industries, there is usually a compliance department. A Director of Regulatory Compliance position generally requires ten years of experience in the field with a master's degree.

Average salaries vary greatly, depending on the industry. Health, medical, government, and financial positions command the highest income, and rightly so with the possible consequences involved in the non-compliance of some aspects of these industries. Entry-level positions in this career may be a bit more competitive than average careers, but once hired, job security is above average. These positions are not generally guilty of ''over-hiring,'' so lay-offs are unlikely. Unless the corporation fails as a whole, the regulatory compliance position is a vital part of every organization. Overall, a solid career choice.
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