How Much Do Privacy Professionals Earn?

The results are in. If you’re considering privacy as a profession, or are having second thoughts about maintaining it, this may be one piece of news that could help you make up your mind.

On its website, the International Association of Privacy Professionals (IAPP) describes itself as “the world’s largest and most comprehensive global information privacy community”. In this capacity, it serves as a “resource for professionals who want to develop and advance their careers by helping their organizations successfully manage these risks and protect their data”.

Early this year, it conducted its periodic salary survey which seeks to gain valuable insight into the compensation of privacy professionals all around the world. The survey generally focuses on salaries, bonuses, and raises; but, for this year, it also decided to take a look at the path taken by people before ending up in the privacy profession.

Nearly 900 respondents gave detailed information about their pay, which IAPP then converted to U.S. dollars for comparison.

Here are some of the key findings from the survey. For relatability, the numbers have been converted to Philippine Pesos (exchange rate is $1=PhP49.69) and divided to reflect a monthly rate:

 

Privacy pays. The (annual) global median salary today for a privacy professional is PhP476,195/mo, while the mean salary is at PhP509,322/mo.

Salaries are highest in the U.S. where the median is PhP538,308/mo. In the European Union, the median is PhP396,692/mo. U.S. privacy professionals also enjoy higher raises and bonuses than their peers from anywhere else in the world.

Big business, big paychecks. Professionals working in the largest firms, in the software and banking industries, earn the highest salaries, bonuses, and raises.

A new profession. Privacy professional, as a career, is relatively new. Almost 9 out of 10 privacy professionals shifted to privacy from another job. Only 11% of the respondents consider privacy as their first professional job.

Journey into the profession. Most privacy professionals today come from the legal field. Incidentally, they also enjoy the higher median salary (PhP586,342/mo) compared to those who coming from other fields or professions. Those with information security or IT backgrounds need not fret though. Privacy pros who hail from that area also earn above-median salaries (PhP496,900/mo). Most other respondents identify themselves as coming from a compliance background (PhP412,427/mo).

For those who identify themselves as data protection officers (DPOs), however, most have a compliance, infosec, or IT background—confirming that a law degree is not required for the position.

Experience matters. On average, the respondents have spent around eight (8) years in privacy. Those who have more experience (10-19 years) earn a median salary of PhP530,027/mo, compared to their newer counterparts (5-9 years) whose median salary is PhP476,196/mo.

Education. 93% of respondents have at least a college degree or its equivalent. Almost 70% have a post-graduate degree. Finally, nearly 40% hold an advanced professional degree such as a JD or an MBA.

Industries. The highest median salary (PhP604,562/mo) is in the technology hardware industry, followed by the software industry (PhP538,308/mo). Meanwhile, the lowest median salary can be found in government (PhP333,337/mo). The education (PhP356,112/mo), healthcare, and non-profit privacy sectors (PhP372,675/mo) fare a bit better.

Bonuses. Many companies offer employees lower base salaries, but provide them bonuses if all goes well. These bonuses are based on company performance, or a combination of both individual and company performance.

Consistent with the trend in terms of salaries, the banking, telecom, and insurance industries are also the most generous in offering bonuses. Meanwhile, it may come as no surprise that bonuses are rare in government or education.

Getting a Raise. It would appear that privacy pros working in insurance (5.7%) or retail (5.6%) are rewarded most when it comes to receiving a pay raise. Once again, those in government and in the education sector come out last in this department.

It is also interesting to note here that those who have the title of chief privacy officer (CPO) or DPO earn higher raises compared to other privacy pros.

 

For those currently in the profession or are just settling in, these results may seem very encouraging. Yes, the chances of earning an amount that’s even half of the lowest listed here, at this point in time, are quite remote; but at least the results show some promise. Besides, hardly anyone here in the country can claim to have enough background in privacy work to be able to demand a generous paycheck almost immediately.

That said, the survey analysis ends on a sober note. It states that, as the profession grows and diversifies, the overall median and mean salaries would likely decline. While there is still no such thing today as an “entry level” privacy professional, there will most likely be one in the future, with more people choosing privacy as their career choice. Once in place, as in every other profession, it would almost certainly negate any hope of having a salary that is anywhere near those shown here.

Fortunately, privacy work here in the Philippines is still very much in its infant stage—a boon for those still undecided as to what career to pursue, and for those already thinking of trying it out for themselves.