Skip to Main Content

What Is a Privacy Officer and How to Become One

Privacy Officer

What Does a Privacy Officer Do?

A privacy officer, also known as a privacy compliance officer, develops and modifies privacy policies and practices of an organization or business. As a privacy officer, your duties include assessing current policies, suggesting modifications, and training new and existing employees on these policies. You must also stay informed of changes to privacy laws to ensure that your company’s policies reflect current regulations. Your job is to oversee the implementation of the best possible privacy practices in your particular field, ensuring the privacy of personal information and records so that no legal issues arise. Privacy officer jobs are very common in the health care industry, as these organizations must meet HIPAA regulations and standards.

How to Become a Privacy Officer

To become a privacy officer, you may need a law degree, but most employers only require a bachelor’s degree and experience in the field or industry in which you will be working. In other words, experience in the medical industry may do more to help you secure a healthcare privacy officer position than a law degree. However, you still need to study privacy law, legal policymaking, and computer network security, so an advanced degree in any related field can help you gain a portion of the necessary skills. There are several certifications that may improve your resume, like Certified International Privacy Professional, but these are not mandatory.

What Is a Privacy Officer in Health Care?

Within the health care industry, organizations refer to their privacy officers as medical or HIPAA privacy officers. This designation occurs because healthcare organization have a special set of regulations and standard, set out by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). The job is essentially the same as any other privacy officer. Your responsibilities include assessing current privacy policies and practices, suggesting modifications, and training new and existing employees on the policies. The primary difference is that compliance with regulations is much more strict. Compliance is crucial, as medical facilities have sensitive information, and protection of patients' rights is important.

Does HIPAA Require a Privacy Officer?

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) requires every single medical practice, regardless of size or location, to have a designated HIPAA privacy officer. Usually, there is a designated employee for the position, but some small practices designate an existing employee to act as the privacy officer. Anyone in the practice can fill the role, from the doctor to the receptionist, but they must receive adequate training and be up to date on all requirements of HIPAA requirements. Compliance with HIPAA requires a privacy officer, but it does not require a full-time employee to fill the role.

Privacy Officer Job Description Sample

With this Privacy Officer job description sample, you can get a good idea of what employers are looking for when hiring for this position. Remember, every employer is different and each will have unique qualifications when they hire for a Privacy Officer role.

Job Summary

The Privacy Officer is responsible for developing and implementing effective privacy policies and procedures to ensure the security and protection of our organization’s confidential information. The successful candidate monitors, reviews and updates the privacy policies, promotes their enforcement in the organization, and ensures compliance with applicable privacy regulations.

Duties and Responsibilities

  • Develop, implement and maintain the organization’s privacy policies and procedures
  • Monitor and review the privacy policies and procedures to ensure they remain up to date
  • Train staff on the organization’s privacy policies and procedures
  • Address any privacy-related inquiries from employees, customers and other stakeholders
  • Manage any investigations and incidents related to privacy breaches
  • Collaborate with other departments to ensure compliance
  • Maintain records of all privacy-related activities
  • Monitor and report on the effectiveness of the privacy policies and procedures

Requirements and Qualifications

  • Bachelor’s degree in Information Technology, Law, Business, or related field
  • 5+ years of experience in the field preferred
  • Knowledge of applicable privacy laws and regulations
  • Excellent organizational and problem-solving skills
  • Excellent verbal and written communication skills
  • Able to work independently and as part of a team
  • Proficient with Microsoft Office Suite