Is IAPP Certification Worth It?

IAPP | Career Advice
Return to Resources Page
IAPP Initials

Overwhelmed by the complexity of privacy laws and regulations? We get it. Data privacy and protection is a constantly evolving landscape, changing faster than the latest diet trend.

Whether you’re an established privacy professional—or aspiring to be one—you may be considering a certification from the International Association of Privacy Professionals (IAPP).

But is it worth it?

The short answer—yes. In this article, we’ll provide a quick overview of the IAPP certifications available and share five ways you could benefit from getting certified and becoming an IAPP member.

What is IAPP Certification?

We hope you like acronyms, because we’re about to add a few more to your bank.

The IAPP offers three privacy-centric certification programs, all accredited by the ANSI National Accreditation Board (ANAB) under the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) 17024: 2012. These programs are designed for professionals who manage, process, and access data:

Keep in mind, the CIPP has four concentrations, each focusing on a specific region. For example, the CIPP/E certification covers European data protection laws and regulations. In addition, a fourth certification is now available that focuses on the intersection of personal data and artificial intelligence: AI Governance Professional (AIGP).

Now that we’ve covered what certifications are available, let’s talk about the why. Here are our top five reasons why you should consider one (or more) of these IAPP certifications.

1. Worldwide Credibility

IAPP offers the most in-demand, highly respected global certification programs for privacy and data protection.

When you have an IAPP certification under your belt, you’ve proven your theoretical competence in handling personal data and achieve instant, worldwide credibility as a privacy expert.

Remember when your mom would hang your straight-A report card on the fridge? It’s like that, but better.

This recognition and credibility opens the door for career advancement within your current company; or, outside of your company (we won’t tell). Getting certified equips you with transferable knowledge and skills, making a transition to a new employer more easily attainable.

2. Keep Up with Industry Changes

Laws, regulations, standards, and best practices are constantly evolving in the data privacy sector. It's important to keep up with these changes and understand how they impact your business.

Let's pause to recognize this is no easy task.

You could certainly scour the internet, searching the latest industry trends and updates. Though, you may find yourself overwhelmed by the amount of information out there—let alone the credibility and relevance of that information.

IAPP certification helps do that work for you. Through certification, and maintenance of that certification, you’ll always be on top of the most up-to-date industry trends and best practices. And certification gives you the tools to recognize and understand new developments and directions in this space. This means no guesswork on what you should be learning. Certification provides you the knowledge base and tools to cut the chaff as the industry continues to develop.

3. More Marketable, More Money

Skilled privacy professionals are in high demand, as managing the risks and costs of data protection is a top priority for businesses. They know as well as you do—one data breach could be devastating.

Employers are seeking out candidates with IAPP certifications. You’ll find more and more companies listing certification in their job requirements. They want to hire someone who has proven their knowledge and capabilities as a dedicated privacy professional.

So even if your resume makes it to the top of the hiring manager’s theoretical pile, you may not even get a screening interview without a certification to show.

Now, let’s talk about money.

According to a 2023 IAPP Privacy Professionals Salary Survey, a privacy professional can expect to earn more with a certification. When compared to a respondent with no certifications, the survey found those with one IAPP certification earned 13% more, and those with multiple IAPP certifications earned 27% more.

Whether you’re breaking into the data privacy sector, shifting specialties or companies, or have your eyes set on a promotion, a certification can help you achieve your career goals.

4. Networking Opportunities

Once you pass your exam, you’ll choose whether to purchase an IAPP membership or an annual Certification Maintenance Fee (CMF) in order to meet requirements and validate your certification (hint, go with the full membership as we explain here). The good news is, some companies cover these costs, so you’ll want to check with your employer.

As a member of IAPP, you’ll be part of the world’s largest and most comprehensive global information privacy community. This is particularly valuable for the newer privacy professionals out there.

If you’d like to bump elbows with other IAPP-certified professionals, there are events and conferences you can attend as a member. For those of you who would rather keep your elbows to yourself, you’ll have access to free and discounted web conferences and online forums as well.

Whether in person or in the comfort of your own home, having the opportunity to take advantage of these member benefits is valuable for networking and career advancement.

5. Professional Growth

Let’s talk about money, again. Yes, it does cost money to get IAPP certified. But consider it an investment in your continuous learning and professional development.

Through IAPP membership, you’ll have extensive resources at your fingertips to expand your knowledge and skills. Beyond the networking opportunities we mentioned above, you’ll have access to webinars, publications, and ongoing training programs.

This is important, because once you’re certified, you’ll be required to maintain that certification by submitting 20 Continuing Privacy Education (CPE) credits per certification, per term.

But don’t let these CPE requirements intimidate you. In addition to the CPE-qualified content readily available on the IAPP website, participation on advisory boards, holding training sessions, and attending IAPP-sponsored events also count towards CPE credits. As an added bonus, many of the CPE materials are relevant to multiple credentials.

Check In With Yourself

At the beginning of this article, you may have been feeling overwhelmed. Check back in with yourself now—how are you feeling? Hopefully you can take a nice, relaxing breath knowing that IAPP certification is the right move.

Because, why would you pass on the opportunity to advance your career, earn more money, join a community of like-minded professionals, and access the most up-to-date industry trends and best practices?

If you’re feeling intimidated by taking the next step, we have a few tips for that as well.

Next Steps: Preparing for Your Exam

We won’t sugar coat it—IAPP exams are challenging. It’s important to thoroughly prepare for your exam. But good news, there are resources available to help you, including guidance on how to effectively prepare for the exams, structured study materials, and practice exams.

Spend time researching different exam preparation resources before making a decision. You might find that some options won’t work for you.

Raise your hand if you’re constantly busy juggling work, family, and other commitments. Now, give that raised hand a high five, because you’ve earned it.

With a busy schedule, a multi-day live workshop might not be the best option for you. Instead, a self-paced e-learning program would allow you to study and prepare for the exams on your own time. In fact, that is exactly why we created Privacy Bootcamp.

Also, credibility is key. You wouldn’t take cooking lessons from that roommate who lived off of microwave dinners, right? You’ll want to look for test preparation materials that are developed by privacy and data protection experts who have a deep understanding of the subject matter. Privacy Bootcamp has you covered there as well. It’s one of the reasons why we’ve been trusted by thousands of privacy professionals to guide them toward IAPP certification. And it’s also why we have an industry-leading pass rate.

Finally, make sure the cost is right for you. Shop around, and find what program works best for your schedule, and your wallet. With our courses a fraction of the cost of other providers, we’re confident that you’ll find Privacy Bootcamp the smart choice on this consideration as well.

Privacy Bootcamp Student

Study the Smart Way With Privacy Bootcamp

Privacy Bootcamp Student
  • Comprehensive, all-in-one training source
  • Pass on your first attempt — or your money back*
  • Gain real exam experience with a live testing environment