Jobseeker's Guide to Landing a DPO Job


The need for data protection officers (DPO), or roles related to data protection management, has been growing over the years with an increase of 106% in 2020 compared to 2019 for Singapore, according to DPEX Centre’s Singapore Data Protection Job Demand 2020 report. 

There was a further 54% increase in demand for dedicated DPOs in 2021, according to this year’s research, against the backdrop of COVID-19.

You can start finding data protection roles in our discussion forums where we collate and curate job listings weekly here.

With the pandemic bringing abrupt changes to industries like aviation, F&B and retail, many find themselves having their jobs displaced. With the boom in the demand for data protection expertise, job seekers looking to carve a new niche for themselves may want to transition to being a DPO. So what are the necessary qualifications and skillsets to become an effective DPO

In this article, we will discuss the certifications available that will help boost any interested jobseeker’s resume and provide some suggestions on how to convince the hirer that you have transferable skills from your previous work experience that can help you excel as a DPO. You can check out our courses page here.

Available data protection-related certifications

It is important to determine the route that is most suitable to your circumstances before embarking on the journey to gain theoretical knowledge and hands-on experience from the data protection courses available. 

DPEX Network's DPO Competency Roadmap Graphic

At DPEX Network, we have provided a roadmap with various routes that individuals who are looking to upskill can take to enhance their data protection competencies:


Beginner level

The data protection hands-on course is considered the foundation that will enable learners to gain basic knowledge about the data protection law and principles through hands-on learning and experience. 

Intermediate level 

As the individual gets past the introductory phase and has gained a better understanding of data protection principles, they can opt to expand their knowledge via the academic certification routes which are modular courses that lead up to Advanced Certificates or Advanced Diploma with partner training providers like SMU academy. 

Expert level

If learners want to develop further, it will be important for them to get an internationally recognised certification as a Certified Information Privacy Manager (CIPM) from the International Association of Privacy Professionals (IAPP), which will give them more credibility and provide the organisation with greater confidence and assurance.

Depending on the circumstances, jobseekers should figure out a plan by selecting a path that suits their needs. Gain better clarity of how to start your career in data protection by watching a three-part series featuring Samantha from Project Jobless and Qian Li, leader of the Fellow of Information Privacy’s Affinity Group where they discuss a career in Data Protection in which demand is heating up and the annual salary has been rising by as much as $5,000 year on year.

Part 1: Introduction to Data Protection

Part 2: Career Roadmap in Data Protection

Part 3: Tips on Data Protection for Everyone – How To Protect Yourself and Your Loved Ones 

 Find out more about the learning roadmap in this article that elaborates on each path here.

PDPC’s DPO competency framework and training roadmap

Singapore’s Personal Data Protection Commission (PDPC) has provided a DPO competency framework that gives individuals interested in pursuing a data protection (DP) career a basic description of the job functions of DP roles and the types of competencies needed. 


  • Data Protection Management
  • Business Risk Management
  • Cyber and Data Breach Incident Management
  • Stakeholder Management
  • Audit and Compliance*
  • Data Governance
  • Data Ethics*    
  • Data Sharing* 
  • Design Thinking Practice*


Skills needed as a DPO

A DPO also needs soft skills, such as being able to relate to others, even though it is necessary to have specific data protection knowledge and expertise. They would also need to have:

  • Project management skills - to handle different types of data protection related projects within the organisation
  • Negotiation skills - to communicate effectively between stakeholders, e.g. staff  and regulators
  • Communication skills - to engage a wide-ranging audience, from management to individuals (data subjects), managers, as well as, IT staff and lawyers
  • Stakeholder management - to ensure that stakeholders are aware of their role in ensuring that data is safe and secure
  • Leadership skills - to lead the data protection management team and achieve stated objectives involving a diverse set of stakeholders and managing varied projects
  • Adaptability -  to be a self-starter with the ability to monitor the industry and to gain the required knowledge in dynamic environments  


Check out our article here to understand the role of a DPO better.

Transferable skills that are valuable as a DPO 

As a result of their previous work experience, many mid-career switchers possess quite a few transferable skills. For instance, they may have experience leading a team to achieve their yearly objectives and goals. This tells the organisation that they are able to communicate effectively with the team (part of stakeholder management) so that they understand their roles and responsibilities and are effective project managers as well.

Hence, for mid-career switchers, it is important to first understand the concept of data protection and gain theoretical knowledge to assess if they feel comfortable pursuing their career in this evolving industry. 

Learn more about what being a DPO entails here

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