A data custodian oversees the storage, transfer, and transport of data, ensuring that these processes adhere to the rules specified by the organization. Data custodians take care of data and the databases where it is stored.

A data custodian can also be referred to as a “database administrator.” It is one of the job titles critical to data governance or the effective and efficient management of information. One of the critical roles of data custodians in data management is restricting access to authorized users only. 

While the role is often confused with that of data stewards, the two differ. Data stewards are subject matter experts responsible for selecting high-quality data and creating policies for managing it. On the other hand, data custodians see to it that the security policies and requirements specified by the data stewards are in place.

Other interesting terms…

Read More about “Data Custodian

Data has become more valuable over the past decades, calling for proper management. Roles and responsibilities must be specified for data governance to be effective and efficient. Not only will this smoothen operations but also foster accountability. A data custodian is one of the people responsible for data governance.

What Are the Roles and Responsibilities of a Data Custodian?

Among the responsibilities of a data custodian are:

  • Control data access: Data custodians ensure that only authorized people can access data. This task may require them to use identity and access management (IAM) systems to verify user identity and control data access. Part of this responsibility is ensuring that every dataset has data stewards.
  • Uphold data integrity: The data custodian must maintain enterprise data accuracy and consistency. This task requires them to perform data validation and auditing using standard technical processes. A data custodians’ job includes resolving data quality issues with the help of data stewards.
  • Manage data storage: Data custodians are responsible for identifying the most suitable data storage system. They should also ensure that versions of the data with a history of changes are stored alongside the latest version.
  • Protect data: Data custodians must employ the necessary technologies and processes to safeguard data, both physically and digitally.

What Is the Difference between a Data Custodian, Data Steward, and Data Owner?

Differentiating between job roles is essential to ensure proper delegation and accountability. Data custodians can be confused with other data governance staff, such as data stewards and data owners. We talk more about how they differ below.

Data Custodian versus Data Owner

Data custodians have physical access to data, making people think they are also its owners. However, a data owner is someone accountable for the collection, classification, utilization, and quality of the data. They usually have senior business roles and report directly to executives.

An example of a data owner is the Head of Marketing who has a senior position and can make decisions about all marketing data in line with the business’s overall goals. For instance, the Head of Marketing ensures that email address collection adheres to data privacy laws.

On the other hand, data custodians can be an information technology (IT) personnel making sure that the data entrusted to them is secure from theft, unauthorized access, and corruption.

Data Custodian versus Data Steward

Another role that often gets confused with data custodian is data steward. Data stewards usually hold business roles and are responsible for validating data and ensuring it can be used effectively in a specific business process.

A digital marketing specialist can be a data steward in charge of formatting and cleaning email marketing data. For example, they should ensure that all email addresses in the contact list are correct and valid.

How Much Salary Does a Data Custodian Make?

According to ZipRecruiter, a data custodian makes around US$17,500–111,000 per year. Their average annual salary in the U.S. is US$43,645.

These figures are pretty close to Glassdoor’s estimate, which is between US$22,000 and US$122,000 annually.

Ultimately, the job of a data custodian is to safeguard enterprise data entrusted to them by data stewards and data owners. They act like a bank watching over other people’s money by implementing industry-standard physical and digital security policies.