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What does a Compliance Officer do?

For better or worse, we live in an age of litigation. There is very little that happens in the world today, that doesn’t fall under the regulatory control of some organization at some level. From the obvious, such as the highly regulated fields of banking and investments, to simple farming, there is a constant flow of ever changing rules and regulations that must be kept up with and adhered to. That is the realm of the compliance officer.

compliance officer

Basically a compliance officer keeps track of all the rules, regulations and contractual obligations that impact the business that they work for. Beyond that, compliance officers work closely with management teams, not only making sure that their organization doesn’t violate the rules, but that it is also taking advantage of any regulatory changes that might be a benefit.

A compliance officer will also assist in developing processes and procedures that will help protect the organization should issues arise. As an example, if a compliance officer worked for a construction company, part of their time would of course be spent in an advisory role, but they may also be called upon to do spot inspections of work sites as part of an internal audit team or develop checklists to be filled out by employees before beginning work. All designed to show that the company practices due diligence.

There is no one set path to becoming a compliance officer, as the requirements will vary very widely from one industry to another. The background required for working as a compliance officer for a bank would be greatly different than those needed by the compliance officer of a fertilizer company. However, it can be generally said that you will need a minimum of a bachelor’s degree or professional certification in a field closely related to the industry you are interested in working in.

That is to say if you want to work as a bank compliance officer you would need a degree in finance or accounting. If you are interested in working in construction you would need the applicable OHSA certifications.

With the steady growth of government involvement in business, compliance is a field that shows great growth potential and it is one of the more lucrative fields that can be entered without an advanced degree.

What does a Contract Specialist do?

A contract specialist is someone that a company hires to be in charge of the various contracts the company enter into. A contract specialist holds a very important position within the business sector. Some of the duties a contract specialist may have are negotiating and closing business deals, soliciting contracts, acquiring new contracts and evaluating a contract’s performance once the initial deal has been made. A contract specialist may also have to renegotiate and extend contracts, as well as keep a watchful eye on any staff members they may have working with them.

contract specialist

Contract specialists are responsible for interpreting the terms and conditions of a contract accurately along with verifying the credentials of the company with which the contract is being negotiated. The contract specialist ensures the contract terms meet with the policies of the company in which he or she works as well as the guidelines that local and regional policies have set forth.

The level and agency that one would be working for makes a difference in the educational background you must receive to begin a career as a contract specialist. However, some of the general guidelines for becoming a contract specialist are pretty much the same across all positions. In most instances you must complete at least one academic year of college level business courses and coursework. If you would like to work for the federal government as a contract specialist you must obtain a bachelor’s degree. A private sector job usually requires a bachelor’s degree in a business management related field and possibly some paralegal or legal training as well. A few of the courses you may be required to take are: Acquisition of Commercial Items, Contract Claims, Ethics in Federal Contracting, Simplified Acquisition Procedures, and Service Contract Labor Standards Statute Overview.

What does a Policy Analyst do?

You could probably name several politicians who have an impact on the laws and programs which help define life in America, but what do you know about the behind-the-scenes people who formulate those policies? If that kind of work intrigues you, then you should consider a career as a public policy analyst.

Public policy analysts represent a subset of sociologists and political scientists. They advise politicians, and others, on potential solutions to problems and on the impact of policy proposals. In this capacity, they must be able to evaluate the direct impact of the policy itself – which may involve economic, scientific, military, or a variety of other factors – as well as assess the political impact of advocating those policies. This role can be a way to wield influence behind the scenes, as well as excellent preparation for political office.

policy analyst

Job requirements for policy analysts

While there are no formal requirements for policy analysts, it is a competitive field which often requires detailed, specialized knowledge, so education is important. At minimum, you will probably need a bachelor’s degree, and a master’s or Ph.D. can add to your career options as a policy analyst.

The education of a policy analyst includes heavy elements of sociology and political science, and a key element of this education is a detailed knowledge of statistical methods. Policy analysts need to understand how to collect and analyze data, which may include studies related to the policy itself, and polling data to gauge the electorate’s reaction to possible policy changes.

Finally, a policy analyst can have the greatest impact by communicating effectively, so coursework in written communications, public speaking, and new media can be a great addition to the studies of a future policy analyst.

Career opportunities for policy analysts

In general, employment growth for sociologists and political scientists is expected to be much faster than average in the years ahead. As you might expect, the highest concentration of jobs in these professions is found in and around Washington, D.C., but because policy analysts also advise state and local governments, business organizations, and unions, and also work at academic institutions and think tanks, there are employment opportunities across the country.

Since policy analysts are a subset of political scientists and sociologists, you could expect salaries to be roughly in line with those professions.

In short, there are excellent employment and salary possibilities for policy analysts, but beyond that, there is the potential to have a lasting impact on the society around you.