Succulent plant, glasses, airpods, pencil, and an iphone that belongs to a privacy professional with a padlock on the screen all laying on a desk

Must-Have Skills for Australian Privacy Professionals in 2021

Privacy is experiencing rapid growth around the world. With change looming following the review of the Australian Privacy Principles (APPs), that growth looks set to continue in Australia. This translates to better career progression opportunities and (likely) increased future demand for privacy professionals. But there’s one other compelling factor that makes privacy an attractive field – privacy professionals are overwhelmingly happy with their job. 

So, what does it take to become a privacy professional in Australia?  

 

Area of Study for Privacy Professionals: Law 

Australian privacy professionals are expected to know and understand the APPs, as well as all global privacy laws. As a result, most privacy jobs ask that candidates have a legal background and relevant legal experience.  

Strong technological fluency is desirable too – since most in-house roles do not distinguish between privacy and cybersecurity.  

(A quick note: This article focuses on the skills needed to implement and manage privacy programs – not the technical IT skills needed in the cyber security field.)  

 

These are the Must-Have Skills for Privacy Professionals in 2021 

 

Hard Skills Required to Succeed in the Privacy Profession 

Privacy is a truly interdisciplinary field. Daily tasks require knowledge of HR, IT, and multiple legal practice areas. Privacy professionals usually need to wear multiple hats: advising one day about what to do following a data breach and developing policies for outsourcing the next.  

What this means is that privacy professionals can (and do) come from a range of backgrounds. But there are certain skills that are (almost universally) seen in privacy jobs advertised in Australia. 

Experience is Necessary 

As outlined in the Privacy108 December Privacy Jobs Reportalmost every position requires some experience. We’ll be publishing a roadmap for privacy professionals next month, so keep an eye out for that.  

The previous experience should equip candidates with skills in these key areas:  

  • Risk identification and mitigation.
  • Privacy impact assessments. 
  • Developing and implementing privacy programs.  
  • Drafting privacy documents and policies.  
  • Championing privacy awareness.  
  • Handling privacy complaints, concerns, or questions.   

Broad Knowledge of the Global Privacy Ecosystem 

 66% of countries currently have a data protection and privacy legislation, with a further 10% of countries in the drafting stage (according to the UN). Australian privacy professionals will need to know about the regulations in APAC, as well as California and the EU. 

 

Three people sitting in front of a laptop computer communicating effectively 

Soft Skills Required of Privacy Professionals 

Effective Communication 

 As we said, privacy is a truly interdisciplinary field. Unless you fill a specialised role in a privacy team, you need to be just as comfortable discussing IT protocols as you are speaking to HR about personal data.  

Strong Decision-Making Skills 

Legal counsel typically sees their role as an advisory one. They outline the risks and pitfalls of decisions, while leaving the actual decision-making to the client. Privacy professionals need to go further than outlining legal obligations and risk. They need to show a strong ability to make decisions and spearhead privacy efforts.  

Flexibility 

The privacy roles we’re seeing on offer in Australia require candidates to perform a broad range of tasks. It’s safe to state that employers are looking for privacy professionals who are flexible – in thinking and in their ownership of the role. 

 

Privacy108 and Australia’s Privacy Professionals  

Privacy108 offers education and training for Australia’s privacy professionals. Run by Dr Siganto, a certified instructor for the International Association of Privacy Practitioners (IAPP) and (ISC)2, these courses will equip you with the privacy knowledge you need today and the skills you’ll need in the future.  

A legal background can help you when seeking a job in the privacy field, but it isn’t mandatory. Professionals and students from non-legal backgrounds can (and do) benefit from the courses we offer.  

Get in touch for more information about which course is right for you.