Ethics and compliance jobs have not been around for long; they only started to emerge when in the mid 1990's, the US government and regulators (especially financial services) started to voice their concern on the need to have a function that is responsible for ethical and compliance matters within an organization as an internal control. As a means to encourage institutions to establish ethics and compliance functions, the US government and regulators intimated that organizations that had a fully function ethics and compliance unit would be treated more leniently when it came to the examination of white-collar offenses.
Since then, jobs in compliance and ethics have evolved and are now considered part and parcel or organizational structure. Today, compliance and ethics officers are tasked with ensuring that both individual staff and the organization as a whole are kept aware of the compliance and ethical implications of what they do. This means that the compliance and ethics officer is expected to be at the cutting edge as far as changes in legislation is concerned while providing leadership in interpretation and implementation of the amendments to policy and procedure necessitated by any change to the law and regulatory framework.
The basic educational requirements for jobs in Ethics and compliance jobs is an undergraduate degree in a business related field or law. However, possession of an advance degree such as an MBA will place one at an advantage when competing for the position. There are nowadays MBA programs that have a strong focus on ethics thus making sure the content is structured in line with the specific demands of the ethics and compliance officer job description.
Note though that experience can also play an important part in giving one a head start as far as getting compliance and ethics job is concerned. After all, hands-on experience is invaluable and is sometimes considered just as weighty as an advanced management degree. One key characteristic of this role is the continuous learning one must be ready to be engaged in through self-study, conferences, workshops and seminars in order keep abreast of changes in the law.