Education Week recently published an article detailing the challenges facing K-12 schools in the United States when it comes to the privacy of student data. Such reports raise interesting questions about emerging opportunities for information technology job placements that put professionals in contact with the education sector, whether on a permanent or temporary basis, as direct employees or contractors.

In fact, the issue of student data privacy is just an outgrowth of much broader concerns about data privacy and data security spanning a wide range of industries and sectors and opening up opportunities for information technology job placements whereby professionals can apply a similar set of skills to a very different hierarchy or infrastructure.

Of course these concerns are well justified, and we’ve variously discussed the complex issues of data security on this blog. In large corporations, the information technology specialist holds an extremely challenging but potentially very well compensated position, and this fact may be either a source of motivation or discouragement for people who are currently pursuing online information technology training with an eye toward data security and data privacy.

But increasingly, information technology job placements do not need to be in information technology firms. There is an emerging need for short-term, large-scale improvements in data security in schools, non-IT corporate entities, small businesses, even in the private homes of working professionals. This trend opens up the door for what may be less demanding but still lucrative opportunities for persons who have a full range of online information technology training under their belts but just aren’t sure whether they’ll be able to hold their own in the punishing environment of corporate IT security.

The focus of the Education Week article is on the need for relevant training of educators and school faculty regarding safeguards for information technology. That is to say, it is not expected that any one person will be managing the threats to information technology in the near future. But one person may be tasked as a permanent, district-wide training and development specialist, or as a temporary occupant to that post in one or more schools where a lack of teacher knowledge about data security poses a particular problem.

Poor performance at the corporate level can be a career killer in the IT security field, and such performance is not always the fault of the IT security manager, though the consequences certainly fall upon their shoulders. By contrast, risk is much more widely dispersed in a temporary employment or consulting situation. And while low performance has consequences everywhere, high performance on one IT raining and development assignment opens up doors to new information technology placements, without the risk of trapping one professional in a high-risk, high-stress, narrowly-defined situation for the rest of his career.