Wednesday, 24 September 2014

The relative merits of BCS and IAPP qualifications

The British Computer Association didn’t delay marking the exam I took last week. So, now I have another data protection qualification under my belt. Hurrah!

I had a very interesting response to my last blog. Someone who very kindly commented on the certification scheme run by the International Association of Privacy Professionals explained:

“I can tell you as someone who has the CIPP foundation and Europe qualification that they are ones you get so you can say you have them. They are totally different to ISEB in that ISEB teaches you a lot about the law and practice. Those with less experience in data protection may find the training for the CIPP regional exams useful but I didn't feel they taught me very much. The exams are all multiple choice and also quite subjective in places and there were questions for which two answers were right! You have to guess sometimes what the question setter's view on data protection is.

There were a lot of questions on the Data Retention Directive in my Europe exam, which is totally irrelevant to my job and to all those not working in telecoms companies. They were odd questions too, such as one asking you to pick the purpose from a list of 4 for which governments cannot bring in national data retention laws. I can't remember the choices but it was not something I had ever come across and in any event not something I would ever need to know as a DPO, given what the government decides to do is completely out of our hands!

They are though regional, so cannot go into as much detail as ISEB (and presumably Foundation) can, so they serve different needs. BCS ones are also focused on UK law, so probably a better bet for UK practitioners who want to gain in-depth knowledge.

I would say having done ISEB makes me a better DPO and having CIPP might provide an advantage with some employers. Being an IAPP member allows me to be part of a global networking group and the online resources and events that come with it. The CIPP qualifications are recognised in many parts of the world and are increasingly asked for in job ads, although primarily in the US. I was disappointed to see the recent changes to IAPP whereby we now have to do CPE to keep it.”

That person then went to express a concern that former IAPP members are therefore likely to lose their CIPP qualifications:

“I don't see how IAPP could ever insist you remove reference to the qualification just because you no longer pay them any money!”

They concluded:

“I think BCS is the way to go for actual learning and knowledge, and CIPP to have on your CV.”

So, if anyone fancies any hints and tips on how to prepare for the latest BCS exam, please don’t hesitate to ask.