Shred It: Information Destruction Careers
Thanks to computers and the media, we're surrounded by new information
all the time. Plenty of careers involve creating and using this information.
But some people are actually making a career out of destroying information
-- and their skills are in demand.
With the rise of online services and the increased use of digital information
storage, more people are worried about things like identity theft and corporate
spying. Everyone wants to make sure their private information doesn't get
into the wrong hands.
Protecting sensitive records is the job of information destruction companies.
People are seeking their services as we hear more about important information
being stolen or used for the wrong purpose.
"You need only look to nearly every newspaper in the country to see stories
of data breaches, privacy rights violations and identity theft," says Nate
Segall. Segall is the vice-president of an information destruction company.
"Today, more than ever, companies' trade secrets, as well as their customers',
clients', and employees' personal and private information are in demand by
competitors and those identity thieves looking to profit from that information."
Behind the Need for Information Destruction
Government legislation also comes into play for the demand for information
destruction. The government is cracking down on information theft.
"The problem is growing at an alarming rate, and the government is quickly
taking notice," says Segall. "Recent legislation is forcing companies, under
penalty of law, to take a more active approach in the design of a defendable
information destruction policy.
"Our industry is growing at a very rapid rate now because the increasing
amount of legislation is requiring more and more information to be destroyed
before it is disposed of."
"Laws focused on privacy often hold businesses responsible for any security
breaches," says Joseph Bozic. He is the principal of an information destruction
company. "And even if the law doesn't, there is a good chance the customers
will. Many of these laws are fairly new and it's expected that they will increase
What exactly is information destruction?
"I guess this can mean a lot of things, now that I think of it," says Nicole
Stefenelli. She's the co-owner and general manager of an information destruction
"But to our industry, it essentially describes our process. Customers contract
us to pick up their confidential materials, be it paper, files or back-up
discs. We're contracted to destroy the information so that it can't be put
or pieced back together and used by someone else. Essentially, the information
which we receive is turned into a product that is meaningless."
Information can be stored on both paper and electronic sources. Paper shredding
services have been available for a while. The area that is really exploding
right now is the electronic realm.
"The consensus is that paper-based information destruction is fairly established
and growth will be moderate," says Bozic.
"However, electronic-based data destruction is now starting to come to
the forefront of both consumer and business consciousness. It's expected that
this aspect of the industry will experience tremendous growth in the future."
Bozic points out that as long as we see technology advancing, there will
be a need for destruction experts, especially those with the technical skills
to strip information from electronic media.
"As information technology improves and becomes less expensive, businesses
are more willing to upgrade their IT equipment regularly," he says. "Managing
the data stored on the old IT equipment is a major challenge for these companies.
It takes time to destroy the data and often companies' internal employees
have other responsibilities."
People interested in electronic information destruction need a good background
"People can get started by working for an established information destruction
company," says Bozic.
"However, people working in the electronic information destruction field
should try to obtain some experience in a technical capacity first. Professionals
that have the technical expertise to carry out data destruction on electronic
media are starting to come into demand, and I believe that trend will continue
to increase in the future."
Apart from the technical angle, getting started in this field is the same
as in most fields, especially if you're interested in starting your own business.
For Joseph Vanacore, managing partner of an information destruction company,
the formula is simple. "[Have] a business plan, financing and location to
serve," he says.
"Someone can get started in the business by contacting local destruction
companies in their area for job opportunities," adds Segall. "The one thing
I found out when we were looking into starting our business was that people
were very willing to share their experiences and knowledge.
"Depending on the size of market and company, I would think that there
would be a need for customer-friendly, caring route drivers, warehouse shredding
personnel, administrative staff and/or marketing staff."
You might consider buying a franchise of an existing firm.
"There are franchise opportunities," says Stefenelli. "The larger shredding
firms are acquiring smaller companies, as well as franchise owners. There
has been a consolidation of the industry in the last three years, especially
in the U.S. But I think there is always room for an independent service-oriented
So it sounds like this is a field that is only going to need more and more
people in the next few years. According to Bozic, it's a safe bet that's the
case. "I would recommend this line of work as stable career opportunity for
the future," he says.
National Association for Information Destruction
Representing the information destruction field
International Association of Privacy Professionals
Businesses that work at keeping information private
Storage and Destruction Business
Back to Career Cluster
An industry magazine