Victim Advocates are experienced professionals who specialize in working with individuals who have been a victim of a crime.
These individuals may provide their services in a variety of agencies; both private and public agencies employ Victim Advocates.
If employed by a government agency, these individuals may be considered a Social Worker who specializes in Victim Advocacy.
Individuals who want to become a Victim Advocate will need a postsecondary degree, become licensed and have some strong personal characteristics in order to enter this profession.
Some helpful skills can include being empathetic, interpersonal skills and strong listening skills.
Because these professionals work with individuals who have been victimized, building a relationship with their clients is a top priority.
Education Requirements to Become a Victim Advocate
Individuals who want to become a Victim Advocate will need to have a postsecondary degree, secure a licensure as a Social Worker and have experience working with individuals from a challenging background.
Licensure requirements will vary by state; individuals are encouraged to contact their state for specific licensing requirements.
The minimum educational requirement to become a Victim Advocate is a bachelor’s degree.
Individuals can pursue a bachelor’s in Social Work (BSW).
If a BSW is not offered at a college or university, other recommended degrees include psychology, sociology, education or criminal justice.
Individuals who want to pursue advancement opportunities or become a clinical social worker are required to complete a master’s degree.
In addition, these individuals must complete two years of experience under a supervised clinical setting.
Individuals must also be licensed in their state in order to be a clinical social worker.
A bachelor’s degree in social work often includes a special curriculum to prepare individuals to work with individuals from various backgrounds.
Programs may include coursework that teaches students about diverse populations, social welfare policy and human behavior.
Many programs also require students to gain on the job experience by completing internships or supervised fieldwork.
Victim Advocate Job Description
A Victim Advocate’s primary duties are to provide advocacy and support to individuals who have been a victim of a crime.
The type of support can range from providing legal assistance to report a crime to providing emotional support to individuals who otherwise don’t have that available to them.
Victim Advocates use their extensive knowledge of local resources that will help their clients improve their life.
Such resources may include information on housing, food resources and other agencies that will them get back onto their feet.
They may also refer their clients to social services or criminal justice agencies and encourage them to report their crime to law enforcement.
Victim advocates will also provide support and encourage their clients to make their own decisions.
Victim Advocate Salary and Career Path
There are no specific salary figures for Victim Advocates.
However, there is salary information for the similar field of Social Worker.
In 2012, the median salary for Social Workers was approximately $44,200 per year.
Exact wages will depend on a variety of factors including years of experience, industry an individual works in and the area of expertise.
For example, individuals working in the social assistance field can expect a median salary of approximately $38,920 per year while those who work for state, local or private hospitals can expect a median annual salary of approximately $56,290.
The job outlook for Victim Advocates can also be compared to that of Social Workers.
The job outlook for professionals in Social Work is expected to grow at a faster than average rate when compared to other professions.
Job opportunities are expected to grow by approximately 19 percent through the year 2022.
This job growth is attributed to the demand for social and health services, but will ultimately vary by specialty.
Victim Advocates are specially trained Social Workers that work with victims of crimes to help them navigate the criminal justice system and provide advocacy.
Professionals in this field work with clients that come from a variety of backgrounds and use their interpersonal skills to provide the same level of service.
Although this profession can be considered a difficult one, Victim Advocates get the same in return in job satisfaction as helping and witnessing individuals better their lives is one of the results their work can cause.
Frequently Asked Questions
What does a victim advocate do?
Victim advocates are professionals who assist victims of crime.
They help victims by providing them with information, emotional support, by assisting them in filling out paperwork and may sometimes go with victims in court.
Some victim advocates also organize support groups or may provide in-person counseling.
Victim advocates can find employment in a variety of places; some work for the criminal justice system while others work for private nonprofit organizations.
Because they sometimes may work with people who are emotionally or physically traumatized, victim’s advocates need empathy and good listening skills.
If you are a compassionate person with a desire to help others, a career as a victim advocate may be the right choice for you.
How much does a victim advocate make?
Some victim advocates are paid for their services and some are volunteers.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics doesn’t record specific data about victim advocates, but they provide information about social and human service assistants.
The median annual wage for social and human service assistants was $33,750 in May 2018.
Salaries in this field vary based on a wide range of factors; some earn less than $25,000 a year, while others make more than $50,000.
How much does it cost to become a victim advocate?
Many victim advocates hold a bachelor’s degree in social services, psychology, criminal justice or a related field.
Tuition costs vary based on a wide range of factors; for example, a bachelor’s degree program in social services at a public institution can cost less than $10,000 a year for in-state students while a program at a private college can cost more than $20,000 a year.
A master’s degree in social work can cost you anywhere between $13,000 and more than $35,000, depending on the school you choose.
Victims advocates may also receive on-the-job training after being hired.
Some states may also require victim advocates to be licensed as social workers.
The National Organization for Victim Assistance offers voluntary certification as part of a National Advocate Credentialing Program.
Getting a certificate can help you prove your skills to a potential employer.
A 40-hour live distance learning training is also available at the National Organization for Victim Assistance.
What is the demand for victim advocates?
Employment for social and human service workers is expected to grow 13 percent from 2018 to 2028, much faster than the average for all occupations.
Those who speak more than one language should have better employment opportunities.
How long does it take to become a victim advocate?
In order to become a victim advocate, you will usually need a bachelor’s degree in social work, psychology or a related field.
A bachelor’s degree can be earned in approximately 4 years.
If you want to further perfect your skills and to have better job prospects, you should also consider enrolling at a master’s degree program.
Earning your master’s degree will take you an additional 2 years.
Some states may also require that you get a social worker license before being able to practice.