Published: June 2021

The full report of the 2021 IAPP Privacy Professionals Salary Survey is available to IAPP members only. Not a member? Join now.

Introduction: A year into the pandemic
So much has happened since the IAPP conducted its last Salary Survey in 2019. Many jobs have been lost due to the public health and economic crisis ensuing from the COVID-19 pandemic. As of today, only a portion of these jobs has returned. Many workers have also needed to switch roles or occupations or repurpose their skill set for the new demands of the time. The very meaning of concepts, like “work” and “meeting,” have even changed, taken on new meaning or lost some of their previous meaning altogether. For several more years, at least, businesses will likely continue to need to invest more in the health and safety of their employees and consumers. But despite the upheaval, the job market in the field of privacy has remained strong. 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.

Yet, many privacy pros, like other workers, have faced difficult choices regarding their careers and families due to the pandemic. Across the broader job market, macroeconomic data has shown women — and particularly women of color — have been the most negatively affected, bearing some 60% of the job losses caused by the pandemic. Indeed, women have exited the workforce in alarming numbers. A recent study by Oxfam International found last year women lost 64 million jobs, which equates to $800 billion in lost income. Due to the fact that women have experienced disproportionately more pandemic-induced job losses while facing greater pressure to do more caregiving at home, one researcher has dubbed the pandemic to be the first “she-cession.” In addition, essential workers, who have also borne the brunt of the risks to their health and well-being, are more likely to be women.

For virtually everyone, therefore, coping with COVID-19 has become a necessity. This need to cope may be why interest in activities, such as journaling, arts and crafts and collectables, has grown substantially. Whether expressing it through writing, creating something beautiful or simply screaming it out, finding meaning and comfort in these strange times have become crucial tasks for us all.

Businesses have also needed to grapple with a changed reality. Employee retention, satisfaction and morale have become acute challenges for many employers. Organizations in various industries have used incentives, in addition to base salary, to retain top talent in a year marked by excessive burnout, the blurring — if not evaporation — of the work-life boundary and the dreaded “Zoom fatigue.” Businesses have pursued various strategies to keep their employees happy. Wall Street banks have offered their employees perks ranging from all-expenses-paid vacations to Peloton bikes, while companies from Twitter, Facebook and Salesforce to Novartis, Siemens and Ford Motor Co. have promised their employees they can have the option to work from home or have flexible/hybrid work arrangements permanently, post-pandemic.

Given all that has occurred over the past year, the 2021 Salary Survey was conducted with the COVID-19 pandemic at the forefront of our minds. While its overall purpose is still to explore and benchmark the compensation, pay raises, bonuses and evolving characteristics of the privacy workforce, this year’s survey also examined how COVID-19 has impacted privacy pros, what related challenges they have faced, what keeps them motivated and what they expect the future to look like. The results are illuminating at a time when so much remains uncertain, providing a stable, historical look at the privacy profession and its unique position within the world today.

Key Takeaways

  • In 2021, the average salary for a privacy pro was $140,529, an increase of more than $6,000 since 2019. The median salary, meanwhile, was $126,000, an increase of $2,950 since 2019.
  • As of March 2021, about 90% of privacy pros were working mostly or entirely from home.
  • About 36% believed they will continue to work mostly or entirely from home after the pandemic ends, while another 50% expected to have a hybrid work arrangement, partially from home and partially from an office, post-COVID-19.
  • Chief privacy officers were the highest paid privacy pros in 2021, earning a median annual income of $200,000.
  • Approximately 6 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.
  • Those who hold at least one CIP earn almost $5,000 more per year than the average. Those with multiple CIPs earn about $15,000 more annually than the average.
  • Those holding any CIP were also more likely to have received additional compensation over the past year, while those holding a CIPT were more likely than others to have received a raise.
  • 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.

Infographic: The 2021 IAPP Salary Survey

The IAPP published an infographic that highlights the results of the 2021 IAPP Privacy Professionals Salary Survey, which can be accessed here.


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.