This how to become an advocate guide contains educational requirements, the median salary for advocates and required skills.
Advocates speak on behalf of their clients and fight for their rights and needs. They utilize their legal training to assist others and can work in industries including education, health care, retail, law, nursing homes and more. Job titles for advocates can include mental health counselors, lawyers and patients’ rights advocates.
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What Does an Advocate Do?
An advocate, in general, speaks on behalf of someone else to ensure that person is receiving the rights, benefits and care they deserve. Typical advocate roles include victim advocate, youth advocate, patient advocate and customer advocate.
An advocate's duties and responsibilities can include:
Becoming a confidante for a client and keeping their information private.
Contacting and supporting victims and their families.
Providing crisis intervention for victims.
Educating caregivers about sexual or physical abuse.
Performing safety assessments.
How Do You Become an Advocate?
Here are the essential steps to becoming an advocate, including completing undergraduate, graduate degrees and licensing criteria.
Complete your bachelor’s degree:
You need a bachelor’s degree to become an advocate. The minimum requirement to be admitted to law school is an undergraduate degree.
Pass the Law School Admission Test (LSAT):
If you’re analytical and passionate about helping people, this bold career move starts with taking the LSAT. This is the prerequisite to becoming a lawyer or advocate.
Go to law school:
Once you pass the LSAT, you can attend law school as a prerequisite to getting your license as an attorney or advocate.
Pass the Bar exam:
The bar exam is a series of tests that will vary by state. The tests are designed for you to apply solutions to real-life scenarios with clients and courtrooms.
You can volunteer or work as an advocate in the public or private sector. You can join a network of nonprofit organizations and work pro bono or start your career as an assistant attorney.
Create a job-winning resume:
Any successful job search begins with crafting a high-quality resume highlighting your skills and experience. For guidance on creating a resume, look at JobHero’s library of advocate resume examples. Once your resume is complete, search online for job opportunities. Make the most of your professional network, including people along your journey to become an advocate.
When applying for jobs, write a cover letter that expresses your interest in the position and highlights your qualifications and what you would bring to the role. Take a look at our cover letter samples for inspiration.
Finding a job:
Demand for advocates is increasing. The Bureau of Labor Statistics forecasts 11% growth for the position through 2024, amounting to 12,000 openings for advocates. Given this projected growth, aspiring advocates are likely to find many job opportunities in the public and personal sectors, such as in social and human services.
If you don’t know where to start, check out our Resume Builder. Our builder uses interactive tools with pre-written, job-specific content to help you tell your professional story. The builder helps you show off your most marketable relevant skills and experience to demonstrate the benefits you offer as an advocate to employers.
Advocates need to possess a mix of hard and soft skills to be effective representatives for their clients. They should be very understanding, non-judgmental and excellent communicators. Professionals in this field must also be trustworthy, as many victims will find it hard to trust anyone after their ordeals.
Being an advocate requires a balance of hard and soft skills. Here is a list of the top 10 legal soft skills you can bring to the table.
When it comes to technical, the 10 most sought-out legal hard and soft skills to incorporate to your resume are:
Insights from an Advocate
In order to get an inside look at how to become an Advocate, we talked to Melanie Lynn Carlson, who has a MSW and is the founder of Sheltering Life. Here’s what she had to tell us.
What Do Advocates Do?
A lot of people I know started their journey as an Advocate by getting involved in causes they believe in. This can be through volunteering in the community or joining a group that has an advocacy component. Then these budding Advocates realize that they can make advocacy their life's work and go to school for social work or other closely aligned fields of study.
What Should Someone Consider Before Becoming an Advocate
There are a lot of ways and means to be an Advocate and your interests may change, but advocacy skills can be transferable between different content areas. I think a lot of people get involved in advocacy to "change the world" and they need to hone in on how to define the problem and be able to establish measurable and specific changes you'd like to implement. I think realizing that it does take many people working together to make change and no Advocate works in a vacuum, therefore you need to be able to garner input from the community involved, effectively collaborate and build coalitions.
What type of person excels in this job?
I have seen a variety of working styles that are effective in this field. I would say you need to be inquisitive, passionate, and smart with an ability to clock out sometimes and just enjoy life.
What are some of the most important skills for an Advocate to have?
I think an outsider assumes that Advocates operate on an emotional level, yet analytical, research and collaborative skills are very important. You have to be dedicated to your cause, but also strategic in how you try to enact change. You have to think about your issue on an individual, family, community and political level, in order to maximize your effectiveness.
What do you find to be the most rewarding aspect of being an Advocate?
I look forward to work all of the time, but also see ways in which this field can improve. I get personal satisfaction from helping others and love all the teams I've worked with. Also, I never have to compromise my core values in order to get a paycheck, which is rare in our economy. My personal experience as an Advocate has enriched my life, as I've learned so much from clients and colleagues on how to help others. Advocacy will be my life's work and I'm looking forward to the rest of the journey.
How Much Do Advocates Get Paid?
Advocates are typically paid on a salary basis. The median annual salary in the United States is $33,634.
Top 10 States for Advocate Salary
Advocates in the following states make the highest median hourly wage in the U.S.
Looking for more information? Here are a few additional resources to help you as you continue to explore a career as an Advocate.
On the Web
National Organization for Victim Assistance
A national resource for victims of crime and Victim Advocates.
Office for Victims of Crime
The National Victim Assistance Academy provides training for a career as a victim Advocate.
The National Center for Victims of Crime
A resource for Victim Advocates and victims of crime.
Victim Support Services
A guide to victim support, including Victim Advocates.