The figure of a Compliance Officer began to appear in the US in the early 2000s after a series of financial scandals on Wall Street. When President Bush introduced the Sarbanes-Oxley Act in 2002, he ordered a series of reforms to improve corporate responsibility, improve financial disclosures, and combat corporate and tax fraud. To meet those requirements, companies created the role of Compliance Officer, a person in charge of ensuring that a company meets its legal obligations.

In the last 20 years, companies in other countries, including Spain, have begun to create the same role to fulfill the same purpose. They are usually people with experience in law or they come from the financial world who have later studied a compliance course to specialize.

But what exactly is the title of a compliance officer ? And what do you have to study to become one? In this post we will see in more detail what a compliance officer does .


As we have mentioned before, the role of compliance officer was born in the US but has spread to all parts of the world today.

It is increasingly present in Spain as a result of the reform of the Penal Code operated by Organic Law 1/2015 . According to the law, Spanish companies should have a body with supervisory and surveillance powers so as not to infringe the law and manage possible criminal risks. The law does not specify the profile of a specific compliance officer. It leaves the responsibility of each company to decide if they want a specific employee or create a body or committee to cover the requirements.


The compliance officers have a responsibility to ensure that your organization complies with government regulations , both nationally and globally, if applicable, and prevents errors that could result in fines, legal ramifications and damage to reputation. They must also ensure that employees follow internal policies.

In addition to assessing financial risks and creating an action plan to handle those potential problems, compliance officers prepare reports on the effectiveness of a company’s compliance measures. They also advise management on any action or change that needs to be implemented. In many organizations, top management demands that the compliance officer collaborate as a partner and demonstrates how regulatory compliance is a business priority and can help drive strategy.

Here are some of the typical functions of compliance officers:

  • Develop, implement, and manage an organization’s compliance program
  • Coordinate with national and international regulators
  • Planning, implementation and supervision of risk-related programs.
  • Creation and coordination of compliance reports.
  • Develop communications of compliance with company regulations
  • Coordinate and schedule required compliance briefings for employees


Compliance Officers are usually experts in Law , International Trade and Business Management. At the European University, you have the option of studying a degree in any of these areas and with the flexibility to choose between studying in person or online. After completing the degree, compliance officers usually specialize with a course or master in compliance to acquire the skills and competencies to analyze the necessary functions and competencies.


The role of a compliance officer is increasingly present in companies in Spain. According to the 2020 Labor Market Guide , a report published by Hays, the salary range is quite large depending on the experience each person has. In large companies, the head of compliance can earn between 80,000 and 100,000 euros per year. For more junior people, the salary is between 30,000 and 35,000 euros. The compliance officer who works for an SME will have an average salary of between 50,000 and 60,000 euros per year, according to the Hays report.