How to become a Data Protection Officer


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What do they do?

Think data should be taken personally? Why not become a Data Protection Officer?

A Data Protection Officer oversees, develops, and implements a company’s Data Protection Policy.

As they’re responsible for the safety of personal information, their role is all about minimising risk through the monitoring and development of policies – from how personal data is collected and kept up-to-date, to the security systems, encryptions, and data sharing rules designed to keep it safe.

When the GDPR takes effect in early 2018, Data Protection Officers will be mandatory for any organisation who deals with large amounts of personal data – making them a vital security asset for many businesses.

Typical tasks and duties for a Data Protection Officer could include:

  • Training staff who deal with data processing
  • Designing guidance documents and keeping them up-to-date
  • Carrying out audits and risk assessments
  • Monitoring performance and making recommendations
  • Processing requests and complaints from data subjects
  • Informing people of their data protection rights
  • Acting as a link between a company and GDPR authorities


Is it right for me?

Aside from excellent interpersonal skills, you’ll also need to be logically minded – with a strong understanding of the laws and practices surrounding data protection.

An ability to communicate complex legal information to all kinds of people is additionally essential – particularly when dealing with complaints and requests from data subjects.

Unsurprisingly, confidentiality is also a key trait to master in this role.

Other vital skills for a Data Protection Officer include:

  • Creativity
  • Flexibility
  • Tech skills
  • Leadership
  • Business sense
  • Excellent decision making

What's it really like?

Working in data protection is a great way to utilise my compliance skills in a really unique and challenging environment. Not only do I get to ensure everyone’s data is in safe hands, I’m also in charge of educating them on data protection rights, provisions, and guidelines – which I think is essential knowledge to have (especially if you’re unsure of what your information’s being used for). Of course, it can be tough to ensure security regulations are upheld; but that’s where my knowledge of legal practices works in my favour.

Get qualified

Most DPOs will have previous experience in legal, compliance, HR, or data management – and may migrate directly into data protection when the GDPR comes into effect. However, it’s also possible to break into this role with a training scheme; such as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR): Essentials course, or the Certified EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) Practitioner course.


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