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The Privacy Advisor | IAPP hits 25k certifications globally Related reading: 50K members: A landmark for the IAPP and global privacy

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Even those working outside the privacy space could probably tell you they've noticed a lot of headlines with the word "privacy" in it lately. The EU's General Data Protection Regulation and California's Consumer Privacy Act are largely to thank for that. But they're also to thank for playing a significant role in the growth of the privacy profession. That fact was never more clear than last week, when the IAPP issued its 25,000th certification.

IAPP President and CEO J. Trevor Hughes, CIPP, reflected on the milestone as momentous. 

"While external indicators such as ANSI accreditation can speak to the integrity and quality of our certifications, it is ultimately the global privacy profession that must endorse and support our programs," Hughes said. "Reaching 25,000 certifications is a clear indicator that the profession has arrived and that the IAPP’s certification programs are an important component in demonstrating the knowledge and skills that are necessary to succeed as a privacy pro in today’s complex digital economy."

The IAPP launched its certification program in 2004 with its Certified Information Privacy Professional certification. The CIPP program spawned four region-specific iterations over time — certifications for demonstrated knowledge in Asia, Europe, Canada and the U.S. — the IAPP has also launched Certified Information Privacy Manager and Certified Information Privacy Technologist programs.

The explosive growth of the certification programs is in thanks to both IAPP members and the staff supporting them, according to IAPP Certification Director Doug Forman. "Our success is attributable to certified individuals spreading the word on the value our certifications hold and then the certification staff and developers that are working every day to make our certifications better and more reliable," Forman said.

While certifications have been growing steadily over time, the last two years is where the real explosion took place. Total certifications have doubled since 2016 and 40% of that growth has come in the last year.

The numbers also shed light on privacy trends, with the European certification, CIPP/E, tripling in the last two years. This year specifically, 50% of the certifications have been the CIPP/E. The spike, of course, correlates with the implementation of the GDPR, which Forman said undoubtedly "helped create global awareness." But Forman also believes privacy pros would still line up to be certified based on the programs' pedigree.

"When you take away the GDPR bump, there's still year-to-year growth," Forman said. "I think it just has a lot to do with the quality we are developing and doing these programs the right way. People recognize that."

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