Privacy Program Manager: What Do They Do?

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You may have heard the title privacy program manager thrown around here and there, but what do they do? Well, you’ve come to the right place to get that question answered.

In today’s privacy-conscious society, businesses actively seek skilled privacy professionals to help protect their customers’ data and pilot their compliance journey.

But what exactly does it mean to be a privacy program manager? And what credentials and skills do you need to excel in this field?

We’ll answer all these and more in the article below, highlighting the benefits of a career in this field and giving you practical insights on how to get started.

Let’s dive in!

Key Takeaways

Privacy program managers are data protection experts who design, deploy, and regulate privacy programs to help organizations comply with relevant laws and regulations.

Becoming a privacy program manager requires a mix of education, qualifications, and hands-on experience. While challenging, it’s a career that offers both financial and non-financial rewards.

With diverse career pathways like compliance coordinator, data protection officer, and privacy consultant, the privacy program management field is highly adaptable.

Privacy Program Manager: Role Overview

Privacy Program Manager Role Overview.jpg

Privacy Program Manager Role Overview.jpg

As the name implies, a privacy program manager is someone who supervises an organization’s privacy program.

Think of them as data privacy architects. They develop, implement, and oversee comprehensive privacy strategies to ensure compliance with applicable laws and standards.

Naturally, privacy program managers must have a profound understanding of data privacy laws, industry-specific knowledge, and emerging trends. They must also be legally knowledgeable, technically savvy, and strategic thinkers.

With these insights and skills, privacy program managers can effectively translate complex legal requirements into practical policies that resonate with employees at all levels.

In an era where data breaches and privacy violations are common, the need for privacy professionals is increasing. Businesses are under immense pressure to protect their customers’ personal information, not just because it’s the law but because it builds credibility.

As a privacy program manager, your role is more than just securing data. It’s about inspiring trust in an interconnected world where information is a cornerstone of business.

Privacy Program Manager: Job Description

If you’re contemplating becoming a privacy program manager, it’s essential to understand the job description and all of its components.

Below, we’ll cover the qualifications, skills, and responsibilities defining this pivotal role:

Qualifications and Skills

Educational Background: A bachelor’s or master’s degree in law, information security, computer science, or a related discipline provides a solid foundation.

Certifications: Industry-recognized certifications like Certified Information Privacy Professional (CIPP) and Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP) showcase your expertise in the field.

Legal and Regulatory Knowledge: A deep understanding of global privacy laws (e.g., GDPR, LGPD, PIPL, CPRA, HIPAA, etc.) is critical to ensure compliance in diverse operational landscapes.

Risk Assessment Skills: Proficiency in assessing and mitigating data privacy risks as well as understanding risk management frameworks.

Communication Skills: Exceptional written and verbal communication skills to effectively interact with stakeholders, present compliance strategies, and convey privacy policies to both technical and non-technical audiences.

Project Management Expertise: Ability to manage and prioritize multiple projects, ensuring timely and successful completion while adhering to compliance standards.


Policy and Procedure Development: Creating, updating, and implementing data policies and procedures to ensure conformity with data privacy laws.

Compliance Oversight: Monitoring organization-wide compliance with privacy laws and conducting audits to identify and fix compliance gaps promptly.

Data Mapping and Inventory: Maintaining a robust data assets inventory and mapping personal data flows within the organization to identify privacy risks.

Training and Awareness: Conducting privacy training programs for employees to develop an organizational awareness and compliance culture.

Crisis Management: Developing and overseeing crisis management action plans to ensure a swift and coordinated response to data breaches or privacy incidents.

Data Protection Impact Assessments (PIAs): Conducting DPIAs to evaluate the impact of new projects on data privacy and proposing necessary mitigation measures.

Stakeholder Collaboration: Working with legal, IT, marketing, and other departments to ensure a holistic approach to privacy management.

How to Become a Privacy Program Manager

How to Become a Privacy Program Manager.png

How to Become a Privacy Program Manager.png

Becoming a privacy program manager takes time, effort, and dedication. That said, a career in privacy program management can be rewarding if you’re passionate about privacy and have a proactive mindset for professional growth.

Let’s walk through the process step-by-step:

Earn the Necessary Credentials

While there is no concrete list of requirements for becoming a privacy program manager, employers prefer candidates with bachelor’s degrees in a related field like law, computer science, information security, business administration, or a related discipline.

Additionally, candidates with certifications like Certified Information Privacy Professional (CIPP) and Certified Information Privacy Manager (CIPM) stand out during selection. These credentials demonstrate your expertise and dedication to data privacy.

Gain Relevant Experiences

Once you have the necessary credentials, you’ll need to gain practical experience in privacy or a related field. One surefire way of gaining such experiences is through data privacy and security internships.

Internships provide practical exposure to compliance frameworks, risk assessments, and data breaches, allowing you to apply theoretical knowledge in real-world scenarios.

Alternatively, you can secure an entry-level position, during which you’ll learn different aspects of privacy program management.

Develop Industry Expertise

Building industry expertise is essential for career growth and professional credibility. As you grow in the privacy field, it’s important to attend conferences, read industry publications, and engage in workshops to keep up with the latest developments and remain marketable to employers.


Networking is a great way to learn about new job opportunities and connect with other privacy professionals. You can network by attending industry events, joining online forums, and reaching out to people you admire via professional platforms such as LinkedIn.

Apply for Privacy Program Manager Positions

Once you’ve acquired the necessary credentials, experience, and knowledge, you can actively seek roles as a privacy program manager.

Here are three vital things to put in place for effective results:

Tailor your resume to highlight your education, certifications, experience, and accomplishments in data privacy.

Explore job listings on various platforms, including industry-specific job boards and company websites, and apply to positions that align with your qualifications and aspirations.

Get familiar with common interview questions for privacy program manager roles and practice your responses to highlight your expertise and enthusiasm for the position.

Pursue Advanced Degrees and Specializations

Although this step is optional, advancing your education can significantly elevate your authority in data privacy and boost your earning potential.

For instance, a Master of Laws (LLM) can solidify your understanding and provide advanced knowledge in the field. Depending on your career goals, you may also consider advanced certifications like Certified Information Security Manager (CISM) to augment your expertise.

Demonstrate Leadership and Initiative

With the privacy field being ever-evolving, it’s essential to establish yourself as a thought leader and take the initiative in privacy-related projects to stay relevant.

Practically speaking, this entails publishing articles or blog posts on data privacy, contributing to industry publications, and presenting at conferences, to mention a few.

How Much Do Privacy Program Managers Earn?

According to Glassdoor, the estimated salary for privacy program managers in the United States is $152,475 annually (as of September 2023). However, salaries can vary depending on a wide range of factors.

Let’s briefly examine some of the most important ones:

Experience: Entry-level privacy program managers (0-1 years) most likely earn between $97,000 and $151,000, according to Glassdoor. In contrast, privacy program managers with 15+ years of experience could command salaries between $144,000 to $205,000 annually.

Location: Salaries can vary based on the cost of living and demand for privacy professionals in a particular region. For instance, positions in cities like San Francisco, New York, or Washington, D.C. tend to offer higher salaries to offset living costs.

Industry and Organization Size: Industries like finance and healthcare typically offer higher salaries due to the critical importance of privacy in these sectors. Similarly, larger organizations offer more competitive compensation packages. Case in point, Microsoft privacy manager salaries are estimated to be around $235,867 annually.

Career Prospects for Privacy Program Managers

Privacy program management is packed with various career options and pathways, each offering unique opportunities and avenues for growth.

Below, we explore some of these career options:

Compliance Coordinator

As a compliance coordinator, you’ll ensure that an organization adheres to internal and external regulations, including privacy laws. You’ll also oversee compliance efforts, coordinate compliance reviews, and facilitate training to ensure policy adherence.

Data Protection Officer (DPO)

The DPO is a crucial position mandated by GDPR and some other data protection laws. Among other responsibilities, DPOs monitor GDPR compliance, act as a point of contact for data subjects and regulatory authorities, and monitor data protection activities.

Compliance Officer

Compliance officers ensure a company operates within legal and regulatory requirements. They develop and implement corporate compliance programs, conduct audits, and advise on risk management strategies.

Compliance Specialist

Compliance specialists focus on specific compliance areas, ensuring the organization’s practices align with relevant laws and standards. In this role, you’ll monitor compliance with privacy laws, develop and update compliance policies, and conduct training on privacy best practices.

Privacy Consultant

Privacy consultants operate independently or with consulting firms to guide organizations in developing and maintaining robust privacy programs. They assess risks, design and implement privacy frameworks, and provide strategic recommendations to elevate privacy posture.

Information Security Manager

Information security managers oversee an organization’s security posture, specifically regarding data privacy, cybersecurity, and compliance. They typically develop and enforce security policies, ensure compliance with relevant security laws, and manage incident response plans.


If you’re passionate about a career in data privacy, becoming a privacy program manager is definitely a path worth considering.

At Captain Compliance, we specialize in empowering professionals like you to navigate this path effectively. We’re here to support you in translating your ambition into a successful career as a privacy program manager.

Ready to get started on your data privacy aspirations? Get in touch today!


What are the key responsibilities of a privacy program manager?

Privacy program managers are responsible for developing and implementing strategies to ensure an organization’s compliance with data privacy laws.

This includes drafting and enforcing privacy policies, conducting risk assessments, overseeing incident responses, and ensuring alignment with evolving regulations.

Find out How to Become a Compliance Officer

What qualifications are necessary to become a Privacy Program Manager?

While specific requirements may vary, a relevant bachelor’s or master’s degree, such as in information security, law, or computer science, provides a solid educational foundation.

Furthermore, certifications like Certified Information Privacy Professional (CIPP) demonstrate expertise and enhance job prospects.

See also: Compliance Officer Skills

How does one gain practical experience to transition into this role?

Internships and entry-level positions in compliance, data protection, or related fields are excellent starting points. They offer hands-on experience and an understanding of the practical applications of data protection principles.

Learn about Corporate Governance in this article

What distinguishes a good privacy program manager from a great one?

Key differentiators include exceptional communication skills, strategic thinking, adapting to regulatory changes, and a proactive mindset. Great managers also display strong leadership, a passion for privacy, and a commitment to continuous learning.

Check out our Data Privacy and Compliance Services

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