Who’s Making What? A Look at the Highest Paying Privacy Professional Roles

A laptop keyboard surrounded by a note with the words, "Data Protection Officers" a red pen and a cup of coffee in a red mug,


The mean global privacy professional salary in 2021 is $141,000, more than $6,000 higher than in 2019, according to findings from the International Association of Privacy Professionals (IAAP).

It’s been a challenging last 20 months for privacy professionals. Like many other workplace roles. Many jobs were lost due to COVID-19, according to report author and IAPP Senior Westin Research Fellow Müge Fazlioglu, CIPP/US, CIPP/E. Many needed to switch roles or occupations or repurpose their skill set, she added.

“But despite the upheaval, the job market in the field of privacy has remained strong,” Fazlioglu wrote in the report. “Although remote and at home, privacy professionals continue their work, few privacy jobs have been lost and many roles are even better paid today than they were just a year or two ago.”

We’ve investigated some of those privacy roles and the top-earning salaries among privacy leaders today. But first, some insight into what matters for privacy officers today. Of course, it’s a little more than just reading the details of GDPR or CCPA.

What’s Important for Privacy Leaders Today

The chief privacy officer (CPO) or professional leads and accelerates the organization’s drive to use data effectively and responsibly perpetuating the image of the organization as a trusted company, according to digital policy and privacy expert Kristina Podnar. The role requires expertise, she said, in privacy compliance, project management and digital technology.

“It also requires strong, collaborative relationships with other partners across the enterprise especially in IT, marketing, communications/PR, HR and even facilities,” Podnar added. “Things of any aspect of the organization that collects, manages or produces information about prospects, buyers, consumers, employees, vendors and partners — the CPO needs to work with all of them.”

Usually, the individual filling the CPO or a privacy expert role will develop and lead a privacy program across all business units. According to Podnar, some of responsibilities tend to include:

  • Coordinating with senior management, the compliance office, regional data protection officers (if the organization has them), the chief information security officer, and the auditor’s office to maintain and improve controls, use audits to drive improvements, conduct training (with assistance of HR) and lead vendors with respect to data protection and privacy (procurement needs to be involved obviously).
  • Leading a system for embedding privacy by design into the culture and ensuring adherence to policies for responsible use of data (this ties into compliance program and corporate audit, as well as reporting to the board).
  • Chairing a working group that sets policies for responsible use of data and oversees an effective data governance system. This group is usually a subset of digital policy program.
  • Working with legal or the digital policy steward to stay current in legal requirements, manage risk and implement changes to align with evolving requirements in all markets

Related Article: 4 Ways a Chief Privacy Officer Can Help Your Company

Chief Privacy Officer Makes How Much?

Now, let’s talk turkey. The highest paid privacy professionals continue to be the chief privacy officers, who earned a median salary of $200,000 in 2021, according to data from the IAPP. The IAPP’s 2021 data featured insights from about half (49%) of respondents personally based in the U.S., 22% in the EU, 14% in the U.K., 8% in Canada and the remaining 7% in other countries.

Some other IAPP data on how much money privacy professionals make (median yearly salary) include:

  • Lead privacy counsels: $175,000
  • Directors of privacy: $160,000
  • Privacy engineers: $148,000
  • Privacy counsels: $135,000
  • Privacy officers: $130,000
  • Data privacy managers: $122,000
  • Data protection officers: $107,000 (or $111,000 for those whose roles are mandated by the GDPR or another law)
  • Privacy managers: $104,000
  • Privacy analysts: $80,000

Compliance Crossover for Privacy: $157K for Senior VP

Not all analysts agree on the exact median salaries for privacy professionals. Glassdoor cites the average annual salary for a chief privacy officer to be $157,824. Some other compliance roles involving privacy duties that are similar include:

  • Senior vice president of compliance: $157,782
  • Executive compliance officer: $73,611
  • Chief compliance officer: $121,196

Related Article: Should the Chief Privacy Officer and Chief Information Security Officer Roles Merge?

Certified Information Privacy Professional: $132K Per Year

Certifications count, too, of course.

According to Payscale, the average base salary for a privacy professional with the CIPP certification is $132,000 per year.

Some other related certifications and their average salary scales according to Payscale include:

  • Certified Information Privacy Professional/Information Technology (CIPP/IT): $62,000 to $190,000
  • ISACA Certified Information Security Manager (ISACA CISM): $89,000 to $185,000
  • InfoSys Security Architecture Professional (ISSAP/CISSP): $87,000 to $193,000

According to ZipRecruiter, the Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP) certification includes an average yearly salary between $73,000 and $194,000.

Those who hold at least one privacy certification earn almost $5,000 more per year than the average, according to the IAPP. Those with multiple CIPs earn about $15,000 more annually than the average.

Pay Raises and Job Satisfaction

Some other data shows privacy officers receive additional compensation on top of their annual base salary. On the other hand, some had to take a pay cut this year.

According to the IAPP:

  • Approximately six in 10 privacy pros received a raise in 2021, although about 10% fewer received one than in 2019.
  • About 75% of privacy pros received some form of additional compensation this year. The average amount of additional compensation this year was $21,420, which is $1,420 greater than two years ago.
  • About 7% of privacy pros had to take a pay cut over the past year.
  • A gender pay gap continues to exist, with a 9% difference in the salaries of male and female privacy pros globally, and a 14% difference between male and female privacy pros in the U.S.
  • On a scale of 0 to 10, the average job satisfaction rating among privacy pros was 7.3. The biggest driver of satisfaction for privacy pros was how interesting their work is.

Ultimately, the salaries of privacy professionals will vary greatly as in any other profession based on a variety of factors. “There are numerous additional factors, however, that help to explain how much each individual privacy pro earns,” IAPP’s Fazlioglu said, “from the industry in which they work to the country in which they reside, as well as their years of experience, education and certifications.”


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