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Compliance Officers and Inspectors

At a Glance

  • Enforce rules from worker rights to environmental regulations
  • Keep detailed records
  • Often specialize in one area
  • Sometimes wear safety or protective gear
  • May travel
  • Many have a bachelor's degree
  • Most work for government agencies

Career summary

Compliance officers and inspectors enforce rules that protect the public.

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Compliance officers and inspectors investigate complaints. They gather information from the person making the complaint. They also talk to the person or organization about whom the complaint is made. If the complaint is about an environmental problem, inspectors travel to the site to examine it.

Depending on their area, officers and inspectors may get more information by:

In addition to investigating complaints, they inspect some organizations on set schedules.

Compliance officers and inspectors keep records. Some records are about their inspection results. Other records document information, such as test or survey results. Officers and inspectors prepare reports of their findings for the people and businesses they investigate.

Officers and inspectors may issue citations and recommend changes to fix problems they find. For example, they may recommend equipment upgrades or changes in procedures. They often teach company representatives about requirements so they understand why changes are required. They follow up to be sure that businesses and individuals carry out their recommendations. They may testify in court and public hearings about their findings.

Compliance officers and inspectors often specialize in one area.

Environmental compliance

Environmental compliance officers monitor air and water pollution, hazardous waste disposal, and other environmental matters.


Licensing examiners evaluate applications for a variety of licenses, including driver's and professional licenses. They check that applicants have met the training and experience requirements. They may also give tests. They issue licenses to people who meet the requirements. They also warn licensed individuals when complaints have been filed against them.

Equal opportunity

Equal opportunity officers make sure people are not being discriminated against by employers. They investigate whether employers are hiring workers regardless of their race, religion, color, national origin, age, or disability.

Government property

Government property inspectors monitor contracts. They inspect materials and other property and investigate fraud.

Related careers

This career is part of the Government and Public Administration cluster of careers.

Related careers include:

Military careers

Job duties

Task list

The following list of tasks is specific to compliance officers and inspectors.

Common work activities

Compliance officers and inspectors perform the following tasks. These tasks are common to many careers.

Work requirements

Working conditions

In a typical work setting, compliance officers and inspectors:

Interpersonal relationships

Physical work conditions

Work performance


Physical demands

Compliance officers and inspectors frequently:

It is important for compliance officers and inspectors to be able to:

It is not as important, but still necessary, for compliance officers and inspectors to be able to:

Skills and abilities

Compliance officers and inspectors need to:


Reason and problem solve

Manage oneself, people, time, and things

Work with people

Perceive and visualize

Education and training

Educational programs

The programs of study listed below will help you prepare for the occupation or career cluster you are exploring.

Programs of study directly related to this occupation

Other programs of study to consider


To work as a compliance officer or inspector, you typically need to:

Education after high school

The required education for a compliance officer or inspector varies, depending on your area of interest.

You need a bachelor's degree or higher for many environmental compliance jobs. Your major should be in biology, chemistry, physical science, or sanitation.

Government inspectors often need at least a bachelor's degree. Areas that may be helpful include public administration and sociology.

A high school diploma and related work experience can qualify you for some jobs, such as driver's license examiner and pressure vessel inspector.

Work experience

Work experience in related occupations can qualify you for some specialties. However, most of these jobs have very specific educational requirements that cannot be offset by work experience.

On-the-job training

Employers provide formal and informal training in areas such as safety, interviewing techniques, and inspection procedures. As you progress through training, you receive assignments that are more complicated. The length of training varies by area of expertise. In general, you will receive up to one year of on-the-job training.

Military training

Some branches of the military train people to become environmental health and safety specialists or officers. For specialists, training lasts from 11 to 19 weeks, depending on your specialty. Additional training occurs on the job. Initial training is not offered for officers. They need at least a bachelor's degree to enter the military occupation. Most training is on the job.

Helpful high school courses

In high school, take classes that prepare you for college. A college preparatory curriculum may be different from your state's graduation requirements.

You should also consider taking some advanced courses in high school. This includes Advanced Placement (AP) and International Baccalaureate (IB) courses if they are available in your school. If you do well in these courses, you may receive college credit for them. Advanced courses can also strengthen your college application.

Helpful electives to take in high school that prepare you for this career include:

The courses listed above are meant to help you create your high school plan. If you have not already done so, talk to a school counselor or parent about the courses you are considering taking.

You should also check with a teacher or counselor to see if work-based learning opportunities are available in your school and community. These might include field trips, job shadowing, internships, and actual work experience. The goal of these activities is to help you connect your school experiences with real-life work.

Join some groups, try some hobbies, or volunteer with an organization that interests you. By participating in activities you can have fun, make new friends, and learn about yourself. Maybe one of them will help direct you to a future career. Here are examples of activities and groups that may be available in your high school or community.

Things to know

Most employers require a bachelor's degree.

Jobs as a pressure vessel inspector may require special certifications.

Employers prefer to hire people who can communicate sensitive information in a friendly and tactful way. They prefer to hire people who have shown that they have good time-management skills. Compliance officers and inspectors must be able to work independently and also cooperatively with others.

Costs to workers

Some workers may pay annual dues to belong to a professional association.

#Took over national content to remove reference to the Professional and Administrative Career Exam (PACE) for federal government inspectors which has been abolished, 2/19/18 cj.


Licensing and certification requirements vary by state and job specialty.

Job listings

Listed below are links to job categories from the National Labor Exchange that relate to this career. Once you get a list of jobs, you can view information about individual jobs and find out how to apply. If your job search finds too many openings, or if you wish to search for jobs outside of Washington, you will need to refine your search.

To get a listing of current jobs from the WorkSource system, go to the WorkSource website (external link).


Compliance officers (SOC 13-1041)

Pay Period
Washington Hourly $18.73 $27.65 $37.27 $52.67 $66.99
Monthly $3,246 $4,792 $6,459 $9,128 $11,609
Yearly $38,960 $57,510 $77,510 $109,560 $139,340
    Bellingham Hourly $21.98 $30.95 $42.90 $45.49 $46.79
Monthly $3,809 $5,364 $7,435 $7,883 $8,109
Yearly $45,720 $64,362 $89,232 $94,638 $97,327
    Bremerton-Silverdale Hourly $25.78 $29.43 $36.41 $46.37 $52.10
Monthly $4,468 $5,100 $6,310 $8,036 $9,029
Yearly $53,627 $61,215 $75,742 $96,445 $108,369
    Clarkston-Lewiston Hourly $15.01 $16.78 $19.32 $28.23 $34.84
Monthly $2,601 $2,908 $3,348 $4,892 $6,038
Yearly $31,206 $34,896 $40,173 $58,719 $72,472
    Kennewick-Richland Hourly $24.06 $31.97 $41.94 $58.50 $67.48
Monthly $4,170 $5,540 $7,268 $10,138 $11,694
Yearly $50,029 $66,485 $87,232 $121,676 $140,356
    Longview Hourly $21.10 $26.24 $31.01 $42.28 $57.31
Monthly $3,657 $4,547 $5,374 $7,327 $9,932
Yearly $43,885 $54,572 $64,489 $87,939 $119,194
    Mount Vernon-Anacortes Hourly $23.44 $28.25 $34.52 $40.75 $54.96
Monthly $4,062 $4,896 $5,982 $7,062 $9,525
Yearly $48,735 $58,758 $71,786 $84,780 $114,326
    Olympia-Tumwater Hourly $23.53 $28.26 $31.96 $37.07 $52.60
Monthly $4,078 $4,897 $5,539 $6,424 $9,116
Yearly $48,938 $58,767 $66,482 $77,119 $109,410
    Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue Hourly $18.00 $28.50 $41.47 $58.97 $73.79
Monthly $3,119 $4,939 $7,187 $10,220 $12,788
Yearly $37,440 $59,287 $86,262 $122,656 $153,485
    Spokane-Spokane Valley Hourly $16.12 $23.23 $31.18 $37.61 $47.04
Monthly $2,794 $4,026 $5,403 $6,518 $8,152
Yearly $33,518 $48,313 $64,863 $78,231 $97,845
    Vancouver Hourly $22.78 $28.04 $35.11 $45.12 $57.52
Monthly $3,948 $4,859 $6,085 $7,819 $9,968
Yearly $47,390 $58,321 $73,022 $93,836 $119,651
    Walla Walla Hourly $18.44 $27.57 $30.84 $38.73 $46.75
Monthly $3,196 $4,778 $5,345 $6,712 $8,102
Yearly $38,359 $57,360 $64,148 $80,546 $97,232
    Wenatchee Hourly $22.49 $26.32 $33.61 $43.65 $49.67
Monthly $3,898 $4,561 $5,825 $7,565 $8,608
Yearly $46,771 $54,757 $69,900 $90,784 $103,325
    Yakima Hourly $19.17 $25.89 $33.60 $43.16 $59.10
Monthly $3,322 $4,487 $5,823 $7,480 $10,242
Yearly $39,888 $53,859 $69,888 $89,763 $122,946
United States Hourly $18.42 $24.34 $33.10 $43.74 $52.72
Monthly $3,192 $4,218 $5,736 $7,580 $9,136
Yearly $38,320 $50,620 $68,860 $90,980 $109,650

Pay varies with the size and type of government agency and the location of the job. Wages are higher in large cities where agency budgets are bigger and living costs are higher.

Because they work for government agencies, most compliance officers and inspectors receive typical benefits. These include health insurance, paid vacation, sick leave, and a retirement plan.

Employment and outlook

Washington outlook


The table below provides information about the number of workers in this career in various regions. It also provides information about the expected growth rate and future job openings.

Compliance Officers, Except Agriculture, Construction, Health and Safety, and Transportation (SOC 13-1041)

Location Current employment Growth over 10 years Annual openings
Washington 10,633 16.3% 16.1% 1,253
    Adams, Chelan, Douglas, Grant, and Okanogan Counties 158 17.7% 13.4% 19
    Asotin, Columbia, Ferry, Garfield, Lincoln, Pend Oreille, Stevens, Walla Walla, and Whitman Counties 116 8.6% 8.6% 11
    Benton and Franklin Counties 201 10.4% 15.0% 20
    Clallam, Jefferson, and Kitsap Counties 150 10.0% 11.9% 15
    Clark, Cowlitz, and Wahkiakum Counties 295 12.2% 15.2% 32
    Grays Harbor, Lewis, Mason, Pacific, and Thurston Counties 874 10.2% 14.1% 89
    Island, San Juan, Skagit, and Whatcom Counties 716 4.9% 14.6% 64
    King County 6,361 20.3% 19.6% 811
    Kittitas, Klickitat, Skamania, and Yakima Counties 211 8.5% 13.8% 21
    Pierce County 549 18.2% 15.2% 67
    Snohomish County 552 12.1% 12.4% 59
    Spokane County 544 14.0% 13.9% 60
United States 319,900 5.8% 5.2% 30,700

National employment

Major employers:

National outlook

The outlook for compliance officers and inspectors depends on public interest in safety and regulation. Outlook is also affected by funding for government agencies. Growth is expected to increase in this occupation. Most compliance officers and inspectors work for government agencies so job security is good.

Other resources

American Industrial Hygiene Association (external link)
3141 Fairview Park Drive, Suite 777
Falls Church, VA 22042
Board of Certified Safety Professionals (external link)
Explore Health Careers: Built Environment Specialist (external link)
Explore Health Careers: Environmental Health Practitioner (external link)
Explore Health Careers: Food Safety Specialist (external link)
Health Physics Society (HPS) (external link)
950 Herndon Parkway, Suite 450
Herndon, VA 20170
National Environmental Health Association (external link)
720 South Colorado Boulevard, Suite 1000-N
Denver, CO 80246
National Fire Protection Association (external link)
1 Batterymarch Park
Quincy, MA 02169
National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) (external link)
National Treasury Employees Union (external link)
1750 H Street NW
Washington, DC 20006
Washington State Board of Registered Sanitarians (external link)
PO Box 384
Snohomish, WA 98291
Washington State Environmental Health Association (external link)
PO Box 721
South Bend, WA 98586


Career cluster

Career path

O*Net (external link) occupations

O*Net job zones (external link)

DOT occupations

Holland occupational clusters