2019 IAPP Privacy Professionals Salary Survey — Executive Summary

Published: May 2019

The privacy profession has been growing steadily since its inception, but it exploded in the last two years. With the coming into force of the EU General Data Protection Regulation in 2018 and the impending legislative reforms in Washington and some U.S. states, privacy and data protection professionals have never been busier — or more in demand.

Chief privacy officers command an impressive $200,000 median salary in 2019 — $212,000 for those in the U.S. CPOs and privacy leaders, in general, receive the highest salaries of all privacy professionals and tend also to have enjoyed the largest increases in pay since 2017. Meanwhile, those filling the new GDPR-mandated data protection officer role appear to be lower-level employees and tend to have much lower salaries on average (half that of CPOs), particularly if they’re located in the EU and United Kingdom.

Among respondents to the survey from the EU and the U.K. combined, 35% have been appointed DPO because of the GDPR. The prevalence of CPOs and lead privacy counsel in the U.S., in addition to the lower-paid GDPR-mandated role of DPO in the EU, largely explains why median salaries in the United States are more than 50% higher than the median salaries of privacy pros in the EU and U.K.

For women, working in the U.S. generally brings a higher salary than in the EU and as many job opportunities as men have. However, this year’s survey reveals that — apart from CPO positions there is a notable imbalance in salaries, raises and bonuses between U.S. male and female privacy professionals.

For the most part, on a global scale, privacy professionals are being rewarded financially for their hard work and unique and valuable skills. Since the last salary survey in 2017, median salaries overall have risen by more than $8,000 to $123,050, and additional compensation in the form of bonuses and raises is also up — the median value of additional compensation last year was $20,000. Although areas like banking and health care have faced privacy regulation for decades, it’s the software and tech hardware industries that provide the highest median salaries. Predictably, working for a larger firm in a large urban area also typically commands more pay.

Canadian respondents, meanwhile, have significantly lower median salaries than privacy professionals from other regions. This is largely owing to the large percentage of them working in the government sector.

In this survey, privacy professionals can find where they stack up among their peers by job title, geographic region, industry, number of rungs away from the CEO and other factors.


This IAPP biennial salary survey was fielded in early 2019 with third-party research firm Fondulas Strategic Research. The survey was sent to privacy professionals by email and via a link in the Daily Dashboard to its more than 44,000 subscribers, and the survey link was also distributed through the IAPP’s social media channels. Since 2003, we have focused on salaries, bonuses and raises, and this year we also looked at additional forms of compensation, including company stock/equity, commissions, and profit-sharing contributions. More than 1,000 respondents from around the globe provided detailed information about pay in their own currency, and all salary-related figures were converted to U.S. dollars for ease of comparison in this report. Responses were anonymous and only analyzed in the aggregate. The survey did not consider differences in the components of total remuneration packages that might include health care, pension benefits, vacation or family leave allowances.

IAPP Privacy Professionals Salary Surveys
All IAPP Salary Surveys can be found on the "IAPP Reports and Surveys" topic page in the Resource Center, found here.

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