Data protection is a hugely important issue in the modern business world, especially in corporations which handle, process, and store sensitive information. Employers will look to their Data Protection Officers (DPO) to provide rigid compliance with all relevant legislation, and to oversee the correct use of data within the company on a daily basis.

Duties and responsibilities - What does a Data Protection Officer do?

There will be a number of important duties that may come under this role, including:

  • Implementing the company’s Data Protection Policy, and ensuring it is adhered to throughout the organisation
  • Creating guidelines for all members of staff, and checking that they’re resolutely followed
  • Organising training courses for relevant employees, whether in-house or at external locations
  • Mentoring and monitoring the company’s Data Processors, and developing talented individuals within the team
  • Providing information when necessary to senior management, often involving highly sensitive data
  • Making sure all data is up to date, and that policies involving destruction of data are followed

Qualities needed for a successful Data Protection Officer

Successful Data Protection Officers will require several personal skills, including the ability to communicate effectively with members of staff as well as those in senior management positions. Another important quality will be the ability to show an in-depth understanding of current data protection legislation, and awareness of future legislation as well.

Those who work for large international corporations will need to know about global practices, as well global legal requirements. Formal qualifications that can help with an application include BA or BS degrees in a relevant subject field such as information security, international business, or computer science. Passing a commercially available Data Protection Officer course will also help with an application.

On a more personal level, Data Protection Officers need to be discreet when handling sensitive information and will have to know how to handle important personal information in an appropriate manner. An analytical approach to processing data will be a major advantage, as will the ability to work diligently and calmly even when there is a great deal of pressure.

Qualifications and technical skills - How to become a Data Protection Officer?

Successful Data Protection Officers will need to have strong IT skills, allied to a sound knowledge of the organisation’s IT infrastructure. The development and acquisition of new technologies can and will alter the parameters of such a role, so the individual will have to be adaptable to change. In larger corporations, there may be several DPOs, each with their own specialised skills set.

A thorough working knowledge of specific regulations, such as the European General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), is a must. There are several software applications relevant to such a role, including SolarWinds, Wired Relations, LogicGate and privIQ; having experience with any or all of these can be highly beneficial to a candidate.

Career development - What is the next step after Data Protection Officer?

Previous experience in several sectors can lead on to becoming a DPO. They include information governance, information security, data handling, privacy policy implementation, security training, human resources, cyber security and more. Experienced DPOs can look towards more senior roles in a similar field after a suitable period of time.

Salary and remuneration - How much does a Data Protection Officer make?

Even at lower levels within an organisation, Data Protection Officers can expect more than reasonable salary packages. At the most senior levels, DPOs play an important role within corporations, and their salaries will reflect that importance.

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