A Guide to Starting A Career in Privacy

As technology advances, the ability to access, manage, and transmit personal data increases, as well as the associated risks. With so much of our lives taking place online, governments are taking steps to protect the privacy of individuals and ensure organisations are respecting their data rights. This is especially important in an international context, where companies require skilled privacy professionals to make sure they’re complying with the applicable data protection laws and regulations.

This article discusses the advantages of choosing a career in privacy, including the potential to learn and progress due to the current skills shortage. Additionally, one can be rewarded financially for these efforts, as well as consider it an ethical vocation based on its connection to social justice and the protection of human rights.

To succeed in a career in privacy, you will need to gain certain abilities and information. Attending a certified training program is an excellent way to begin or progress your career as a privacy specialist. This article provides advice on selecting the most suitable professional certification for you.

What are the benefits of working in the privacy sector?

1. There is a severe shortage of skills

Organisations must take necessary steps to guard the private information of their staff, customers, and clients. As privacy management is a newly developed career, there is a worldwide lack of experienced specialists. In 2016, the International Association of Privacy Professionals (IAPP) expected that 75,000 data protection officers (DPOs) would be needed to manage personal data associated with EU citizens and follow the GDPR. The IAPP later reported that by 2019, more than 500,000 organisations in Europe alone had selected a DPO.

At present, there are many open positions in the UK, Europe, and the US related to data protection and privacy that are difficult to fill. In the UK, there are 16,771 job openings on LinkedIn that involve data protection and 19,205 that involve data privacy. Expanding the search to the EU and US increases the number of open positions to 99,495.

2. A well-defined learning pathway 

You don’t need to be a lawyer to have a career in privacy. You don’t need to be an expert in data protection laws, but having knowledge in other areas such as governance, risk and compliance, IT, information security, and project management would be beneficial. There are several opportunities available to gain the knowledge and experience you need to become a privacy professional. Even though the privacy and data protection fields are changing, you should still be able to get into the field within a couple of years.

3. Exceptional career progression

Privacy professionals of any skill level can benefit from the chance to further their careers in businesses that are just beginning their privacy operations. There is a high demand for mid-level positions, as those who are involved in constructing, upholding, and perfecting a privacy program must be properly qualified. As one gains more expertise, qualifications, and experience, they will move up to higher positions and receive higher wages.

4. Potential for high earnings

The compensation for a career in privacy is generous due to the limited availability of qualified professionals. Glassdoor reported a salary range of £26,000 to £83,000 a year for Data Protection Officer jobs in the UK. The 2021 IAPP Privacy Professionals Salary Survey uncovered that the average pay for senior privacy professionals globally was $140,529 (£106,745). Chief Privacy Officers were the highest earners, making a median income of $200,000 (£151,919) a year.

5. Career satisfaction and ethics

Generally, privacy professionals experience a high level of job satisfaction due to the diversity and intrigue of their duties. Privacy work is also a moral pursuit, with the potential to support social equity and defend a basic human entitlement. Customers are getting more engaged in the protection of their personal information, and this tendency is expected to keep on, which emphasizes that privacy regulation has numerous more significances than just legal adherence. For privacy professionals, aiding companies sustain personal data and make ethical choices, while also creating transparency and responsibility, is a very fulfilling activity.

A privacy professional’s day-to-day tasks

A career in privacy offers a diverse range of responsibilities, such as:

  • Putting in place privacy frameworks and tactics
  • Creating guidelines for internal operations as well as external messages like privacy notices
  • Putting organisational and technical controls in place
  • providing privacy advice to various teams and departments
  • GDPR compliance analysis of Data Protection Impact Assessments (DPIAs)
  • Conducting regular and sporadic data protection audits for internal operations and external organisations through processor agreements
  • Awareness-raising about privacy culture and role-based instruction
  • Keeping track of processing activity records
  • Providing answers to subject access requests (SARs)
  • Investigating and handling incidents of data breaches
  • Observing and quantifying compliance
  • Giving management a report

Become certified in privacy

Once you have chosen to pursue a job in the field of privacy, you will need to develop new abilities and understanding. College is a favored route for this. It is not, however, necessary to obtain a law degree in order to start a career in this area. Rather, one of the best methods to start or progress as a privacy expert is by participating in a certified training program. These qualifications are viewed as an industry standard and are given to demonstrate that the person has attained or surpassed a certain level of proficiency. Generally, the program consists of learning and then an exam.

A variety of certifications are available for those interested in the field of privacy management, from introductory to more advanced levels. Most of the programs delve into the legal regulations concerning data protection, but others focus on the practices of managing privacy and the technology used to defend personal information.

Before settling on a professional certification, it is important to examine the material that it covers, as well as the advantages and how it will help in your career. To ensure a credible program, it is ideal to opt for a certification from a reliable and independent testing provider.

Organisations that provide professional industry qualifications must ensure that the process of certification is independent of the education and training process in order to protect the integrity of the certificate programme and avoid any potential conflicts of interest. It is important to note that organisations must adhere to the ISO/IEC 17024:2012 international standard if they wish to be considered compliant when offering certification of persons.

It is beneficial to have a separate training provider from the certification body due to the following reasons:

  • The examination provider is responsible for ensuring that the certification programme is of high quality, up-to-date, and strong. They also manage the exam procedure with a separate outside method. In some circumstances, they take on the part of the leader, further increasing the certification’s trustworthiness and worth.
  • Training companies specializing in preparing students for exams offer customized and focused services. These leading providers have access to the best tutors, who possess both in-depth knowledge of the subject and familiarity with the specific exam-administering organization.

When selecting a training provider, it is important to consider how they deliver their material and how it aligns with your learning style. Considerations such as the approach taken (practical or legal), the format of delivery (e.g. bootcamp or spread out over time) and duration of the course should all be taken into account. Some providers might focus on quickly getting you through an exam while others will take a longer, more comprehensive approach to ensure you gain a deeper understanding of the material.

Exploring a career in privacy can be a great way to grow professionally, as the field is still growing and there is an increasing need for experienced experts. Now is the perfect time to become a privacy specialist.

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