A Guide To Your Career In Healthcare Compliance

Amanda Marten, MSN, FNP-C
How to get into compliance

The healthcare sector, renowned for its dynamic regulatory environment, relies on healthcare compliance officers who help their organizations adhere to established norms. If you’re intrigued by the intersection of healthcare, law, and administration, this blog will explain how to get into healthcare compliance.

I’ll address critical queries regarding this profession and offer insights into the educational prerequisites, training, and attributes vital for excelling in this pivotal role.

What Does a Healthcare Compliance Officer Do?

A healthcare compliance officer (HCO) helps guide adherence to industry regulations, standards, and practices. These professionals work diligently to guarantee that healthcare providers comply with patient care, billing, and administration regulations.

Their responsibilities include reviewing and updating policies, conducting internal audits, training staff on compliance matters, and staying abreast of local and federal healthcare laws and regulations. Ultimately, the HCO’s primary goal is to mitigate risks, safeguard the organization from legal entanglements, and uphold its reputation. They also advocate for patient rights, ensuring that the standard of care remains high and patients receive treatment in environments committed to transparency, ethics, and safety.

How To Get Into Healthcare Compliance

Wondering how to become a healthcare compliance officer? A college education is typically needed to embark on a career as a healthcare compliance officer. Most healthcare organizations require HCOs to hold a bachelor’s degree, with standard fields of study including health administration, nursing, public health, or law. These disciplines provide fundamental insights into healthcare operations and the associated regulatory landscape. However, as the role becomes increasingly complex, many employers prefer candidates with advanced degrees. A master’s degree in health administration, law, or a related field can significantly enhance job prospects.

Courses focusing on health law, ethics, and regulatory affairs are valuable. Additional training in medical coding, healthcare IT systems, and healthcare finance can further equip aspiring compliance officers with the requisite knowledge to navigate regulatory complexities.

What Certifications Are Required?

While a solid educational background lays the groundwork, certifications can significantly enhance one’s credentials and distinguish you in the competitive job market. Although not always mandatory, certifications demonstrate a professional’s dedication to the field and proficiency in upholding healthcare compliance standards.

Many HCOs earn the Certified in Healthcare Compliance (CHC) offered by the Health Care Compliance Association (HCCA). Obtaining this certification involves meeting specific educational and work experience criteria and passing an examination. Certified individuals must engage in continuing education to maintain their certification, ensuring they stay updated with the latest compliance standards and regulations.

While the CHC is one of the most recognized certifications, there are other training programs tailored to niche areas within healthcare compliance, such as medical billing or health informatics. While not mandatory for all roles, certifications undoubtedly bolster candidates’ profiles, showcasing their dedication and expertise to potential employers.

What Experience Do I Need?

Experience is fundamental for aspiring healthcare compliance officers, blending academic knowledge with real-world application. Typically, candidates should have 2-5 years of relevant experience in healthcare administration, legal compliance, regulatory affairs, or direct patient care.

Starting as a compliance analyst or assistant allows individuals to gain experience in internal audits, policy development, collaboration with various departments, staff training, and hands-on use of compliance tools. Understanding how compliance platforms function provides a significant advantage in job applications.

Networking within the healthcare community is invaluable. Engaging with experienced professionals, seeking mentorship, or shadowing seasoned compliance officers offers more insights into the role’s nuances and challenges.


Use this checklist to ensure you're shining in your compliance role.

How Long Does It Take To Become A Healthcare Compliance Officer?

The duration varies based on individual paths and dedication. A bachelor’s degree, typically the minimum requirement, takes four years of full-time study. Pursuing a master’s degree adds another two years.

Certifications like the CHC require education and work experience, with exam preparation taking several months. Gaining 2-5 years of relevant experience is crucial, typically involving roles in healthcare administration, legal compliance, or regulatory affairs.

It may take 6-11 years to become a healthcare compliance officer. However, transitioning from related fields can shorten this timeline.

What Is The Job Outlook For Healthcare Compliance Officers?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), compliance officer occupations may increase by 6% by 2030, while similar occupations that monitor and incorporate healthcare regulations, like medical and health services managers, may increase by 32% by 2030.

Want to learn more about healthcare compliance and how organizations use software to meet state and federal requirements? Visit MedTrainer to find out more.