In most countries, data protection laws will require organisations that handle personal data to demonstrate responsibility and accountability. This can involve having a compliance programme commonly known as data protection management programme or DPMP.

The data protection officer (DPO) aids in the implementation of the DPMP and ensures that the organisation’ compliance efforts are done in accordance with the data protection requirements. In countries like Singapore, it is mandatory for organisations to appoint a DPO.

That is why increasingly, more people  are looking  into starting and  developing  a career in data privacy working to become a data protection officer. Many courses like the GRC course have been created to help DPOs carry out their jobs more effectively.

Information Life Cycle Knowledge

Obtaining an understanding of how personal data is collected, used, disclosed, and stored (CUDS) within the business processes of an organisation is crucial to the effective performance of the data protection role.

Knowledge of the information cycle is important because there are processing risks associated with each phase of the information life cycle. Data protection should be viewed as part of GRC (Governance, risk management and compliance) rather than the prevalent misconception that it is solely about cybersecurity.

Knowledge of Information Technology or IT is considered an advantage to performing the DPO role considering how pervasive technology is. However, it is important to remember that the processing of personal data does not involve technology alone. It is prevalent in every part of the operation of the organisation—from reception to the paper recycling bin.

How to Become a Data Protection Officer

If you are considering becoming a data protection officer, the following tips should get your DPO journey to a superb start:

Figure out a career plan.

Develop a plan that describes the various aspects of your ideal career path. It should contain the following information:

  • Obtaining the necessary knowledge, insights, and skills
  • The years and type of experience needed in the field of data protection or privacy
  • Whether you want to work for a non-profit organisation, governmental agency, or a private firm
  • The industry you want to work in (i.e., food, pharmaceutical, media, education, finance, technology, etc.)

Research relevant degrees

If you want to be considered for a data protection officer position, it would help if you have a bachelor’s degree in a relevant subject. This can help ensure you are equipped with the essential capabilities, skills, and insights so the organisation can comply with the data privacy regulations and laws.

Consider the benefits offered by certificates

If you want to have an advantage over other applicants, diversifying your educational portfolio is something that you can look into. This can increase the chances of you having the right skills for the position you are applying for. These days, there are many reputable training providers that offer certification courses that teach you certain skill-sets.

Know where to look for vacancies

As soon as you have all the needed qualifications, you can start your job hunt. You have to be aware that finding and securing your ideal job can take time. However, you can speed up the process when you know where to find data protection officer vacancies through reputable platforms or data protection communities.

Commit to extended learning

Since the role of a data protection officer requires in-depth knowledge of privacy regulations and leadership skills, you will need several years of experience that demonstrate  that you have the ability. Hence, evidence of extended learning can also come in handy during interviews.

To secure the position of data protection officer, it is ideal that you enhance your skills and knowledge continuously by keeping yourself updated on industry news. You can expand your knowledge base by attending workshops and industry events, taking courses, and educating yourself in your spare time.