Victim Advocate: Career and Salary Facts

Find out about the types of jobs you could pursue as a victim advocate. Read on to learn more about career options along with training information and salary. Schools offering Criminology degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Does a Victim Advocate Do?

Victim advocates aid crime victims through the criminal justice system, helping to understand and prevent crime as well as supporting people through the aftermath of crime. They may help victims of domestic abuse leave their situation, help people access health services after a crime, or direct them towards the relevant legal services. As much of this work is done one-on-one with vulnerable people, victim advocates need to have excellent communication skills and a sympathetic, approachable attitude. Victim advocates may also be referred to as social and human services assistants, according to The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) (www.bls.gov). The following chart gives an overview of career expectations:

Degree RequiredHigh school diploma or equivalent at minimum; associate's degree or certificate optional
Education Field of Study Social Work, Gerontology
Training Required Varies; on-the-job training, employee workshops, online training programs, volunteer programs
Job Growth (2014-2024)11% for all social and human service assistants*
Median Salary (2017)$34,602**

Source: *The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, **PayScale.com

Where Could I Work as a Victim Advocate?

In general, you would work on behalf of a variety of victims in both private and public agencies. The United States Department of Justice (DOJ) has several programs that provide assistance to children and adults involved with domestic and other types of violence (www.justice.gov). These programs handle cases related to cultural and language-based issues, persons with disabilities, legal assistance and transitional housing. The DOJ also provides information, resources and assistance about dating violence, domestic violence, sexual assault and stalking.

You may also be interested in exploring The Federal Bureau of Investigation's (FBI) Office for Victim Assistance (OVA), which houses the Victims Assistance Program (www.fbi.gov). Each OVA division has a specific population with whom they work. You may assist victims of terrorist attacks or ensure that child witnesses are handled properly and not further traumatized by the interview process. If you are bilingual, you may also assist with translation services.

You could also find a position working for local, national or international advocacy organizations. The BLS refers to joint ventures where civic and corporate partnerships are formed to include both advocacy and grant making. These partnerships are potentially able to raise more funds so that non-government agencies don't have to rely as much on private donations.

Will I Need a Degree?

According to the BLS, the types of skills and training you need are dependent upon where you work. Experience is usually valued and a determining factor during the hiring process. While you may not need a bachelor's degree to work as a social and human services assistant, you would probably be required to have a high school diploma or GED.

You may be interested in obtaining an associate degree or certificate in an area such as social work or gerontology. On-the-job training is common, as are employee-based workshops. The BLS reports that a degree may increase your employability. You might want to consider counseling psychology or social work as possible career paths.

If you're interested in managing a non-profit agency, you may be interested in a college or university that provides continuing education or non-credit courses in fundraising and non-profit management. At the graduate level, you may find a suitable program that focuses on non-profit management. In general, people in top executive positions usually have graduate degrees in business or public administration.

What Training Programs Are Available?

The Office for Victims of Crime Training and Technical Assistance Center (OVCTTAC) has an online victim advocacy-training program that covers core material on topics such as ethics and culture, crime types and crisis intervention (www.ovcttac.gov). Problem solving and case studies are also a part of this program. In 2012, the OVCTTAC launched a 40-hour interactive program called the National Victim Assistance Academy, which is s primarily designed to address the needs of victims in the U.S.

If you would like to explore your options or offer your services to a particular community, you may want to consider volunteering. If you have prior experience in business or another profession, you may want to consider approaching a local agency or social cause.

What Salary Can I Expect?

As of January 2017, PayScale.com reports that victim advocates may make anywhere between $24,036 - $45,331 annually. The median reported salary is $34,602

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

There are many other careers that will allow you to work directly with members of the community who are in need of help, although some will require you to attain a bachelor's degree. One option without any formal education requirements is to become a home health aide. These workers provide one-on-one regular support to people with chronic illnesses, disabilities, cognitive impairments or otherwise live fully supported lives, often providing basic healthcare under the supervision of a trained nurse. If you have completed a bachelor's degree, you could also become a substance abuse counselor, offering support and providing resources to members of the community suffering from drug and alcohol addiction.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

  • 1. Degree Options:
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