Career Roadmap for Privacy Professionals in Australia
Privacy is an exciting field that’s attracting plenty of attention in the media. It’s an attractive career path that offers challenges and opportunities to implement meaningful changes, as well as plenty of potential for career progression. As an emerging field, there aren’t clearly defined career pathways. And most privacy jobs require years of relevant experience and a relevant education. So, while there’s no quick path to enter the privacy profession – this career roadmap can guide you towards your entry into the dynamic and exciting field of privacy.
Trends in Privacy Hiring
These were some of the key takeaways from our December 2020 Job Trends in Australian Privacy Report:
- Most advertised jobs required legal experience.
- The salary ranges, from $75,000 – $120,000, shows that businesses are hiring for mid-range roles.
- There was a greater focus on cyber security.
- No entry level or graduate positions were advertised.
- No role specified privacy certifications, like CIPM or CIPT.
Meeting Educational Requirements for the Privacy Profession
Privacy careers exist at the intersection of the law, business, and information technology/computer science. Leading privacy professionals have a diverse range of skills and an interdisciplinary background. Usually, however, privacy professionals will have either a law degree or an information technology degree – or both.
Many Universities in Australia do offer double degrees in IT and law. If you’d prefer to undertake a single degree, choose a university that offers relevant subjects – like information technology and the law for IT undergraduates and privacy law for those studying law.
The Role of Privacy Certifications for Privacy Professionals
A key takeaway from the December 2020 Privacy Job Trends Report was that no advertised jobs sought privacy certifications. It seems this is changing in Australia, with three roles listed on Seek in the past 30 days detailing a privacy certification as required or desired.
Privacy certifications catapult your understanding of and appreciation for the role privacy plays in society and business. They provide professionals who have or are developing the relevant skills in either law and compliance or information technology with a better understanding of the privacy landscape and the practical skills needed to thrive in that environment.
Crucially, privacy certifications can bridge the ‘experience gap’ we see in Australian privacy hiring. By studying for an obtaining a relevant privacy certification, you can demonstrate real skills in privacy to potential employers in a way that may let you bypass the years of experience they’re asking for in the job descriptions.
Career Roadmap for Privacy Professionals
We want to stress that privacy is an interdisciplinary field, and it attracts professionals with diverse backgrounds. There’s no one correct pathway to the privacy profession. These are simply routes that would help you build the relevant experience as quickly as possible.
While you study
If you are interested in privacy as a career, include privacy or security related subjects as part of your under-graduate studies. This could mean covering subjects like data governance, data analytics, data management, ethics and information security management.
While you study, look for opportunities to develop your understanding of privacy and to network with privacy professionals. You could write articles in collaboration with your lecturers or research students, seek internships in privacy and/or cybersecurity, and offer to volunteer to gain valuable work experience.
Build your network
Word of mouth and using contacts are important paths for entry into most professions, and privacy is no different. So, building your network is key.
Some of the ways you can do this:
- Join professional groups like the IAPP, ISACA, (ISC)2 and AISA, and attend their events. Ideally this would be done in person, but even virtual attendance can help build your profile and be a bridge to other people in the community;
- Identify other groups operating in the area that might interest you, like the Australian Society for Computers and the Law or the Australian Women in Security Network, and join up;
- For lawyers, there may be a Law Society interest group or sub-committee you could contribute to;
- See what opportunities some of the privacy vendors, like OneTrust or Ethyca, might offer. They often run events (online and in person), which are usually free and help you build your knowledge while building your network;
- Attend a training course for one of the IAPP or other privacy certifications which could help you make some great contacts. Privacy 108 runs some and details are below;
- Set up study groups for any of the relevant certifications like the CIPM and the CIPT (covered more below), or join one of the groups promoted on LinkedIn or Facebook;
- Find privacy people you admire and follow them online. Our privacy heroes include Graham Greenleaf, Daniel Solove and the Future of Privacy Forum. All of these are online and have lots of other contacts who might also be useful;
- See if you can find a mentor. One of the best things about the privacy profession is how supportive most people are. Reach out to someone in the community for tips and guidance and they might be able to give you helpful pointers, as well as heads up about job opportunities.
One Pathway for Securing a Privacy Analyst role
After completing your undergraduate degree, whether in computer science, business, justice studies or law, seek an entry-level analyst position – ideally using the network you developed during your degree. You should prioritise positions within larger companies and government agencies, especially those with established privacy positions. This may make it possible to be transferred or promoted to a privacy position in due course.
While you’re building experience as an analyst, you should complete a recognised privacy certification – like the IAPP CIPT or Certified Information Privacy Technologist accreditation and/or the CIPP/E or Certified Information Privacy Professional – Europe. These certifications will help you demonstrate your understanding of the role of privacy in an organisation and an appreciation for the global privacy ecosystem – as well as the importance of geography on organisational privacy obligations.
With a few years’ experience as an analyst under your belt and relevant privacy knowledge, you’ll be in a position to apply for the mid-range privacy analyst positions we see advertised fairly regularly.
Career Roadmap for Privacy and Compliance Advisors
Privacy and compliance advisors tend to have strong experience in the legal field, with a focus on risk mitigation strategy and implementation, developing and delivering KPIs, and training and awareness. Strong communication skills are listed as a prerequisite for almost every role advertised in this realm.
To get here, you will likely study law, complete your practical legal training, and move into a role either as a privacy lawyer or in-house compliance officer. Working within the banking and finance sector or in government does tend to open more doors for privacy professionals.
You might also improve your knowledge by doing post-graduate study. QUT, RMIT and Deakin all offer post-graduate study opportunities covering data privacy. RMIT offers a short course in data privacy management. QUT offers a Graduate Certificate in Data and New Technology Law.
In any event, you should seek opportunities to undertake privacy impact assessments, promote awareness of privacy, and develop privacy frameworks for organisations. You would also benefit from gaining experience, where possible, with cyber security and data breach notifications since many organisations advertise roles seeking specialists who understand both privacy and security.
As we’ve mentioned before, privacy is a rewarding and growing profession: privacy professionals are overwhelmingly happy with their job. There are so many exciting opportunities for anyone interested in pursuing a career in privacy, and a welcoming community waiting to embrace you.
Privacy108 Provides Training for Privacy Professionals
Privacy108 offers training for privacy professionals looking to bridge gaps on their CV. Today’s privacy professionals need a wide breadth of skills that span technological knowledge through to an understanding of the global legal landscape. You can gain industry certifications that set you apart from the other candidates or set you up for a promotion with your current employer.
The certification and informational training courses provided are overseen by lead instructor Dr Jodie Siganto, one of Australia’s foremost privacy experts. She has significant legal experience, but you don’t have to. The courses are designed for lawyers and non-lawyers alike.
To learn more about essential skills required by Australia’s privacy professionals, read this blog post.
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