What is an Advocate?

Advocates work within the Social Services sector and fight for the needs and rights of other people. This can include jobs such as lawyers, mental health counselors, and patients’ rights advocates in the medical field. Often social workers are advocates for people with psychological, legal, or addiction issues. Depending on where someone is employed, advocacy may be a primary part of the job. However, advocacy could be a small part of your job if you are simply providing services to help lower-income families access programs and benefits.

As an advocate, knowledge of the system you are working in will increase the likelihood of favorable outcomes for clients. Social workers are often advocates, but some tasks in social service careers can be more administrative. In any position, you will need to work well with teams and individual clients to accomplish your tasks. If you are looking to move into a managerial position, you must also be able to delegate and lead others in their role.

Job Responsibilities

To find success as an advocate, you need to understand what your responsibilities could be. While your tasks may differ depending on the industry you’re in and type of company you work for, the core duties are universally the same:

  • Answer questions and provide in-depth explanations to clients and/or staff members
  • Find effective solutions to patient, customer, or client problems
  • Advise client and staff members on legal matters
  • Maintain and review records/documentation on behalf of the client so you can provide helpful and relevant information for the issue at hand
  • Create memos or reports for sentencing and court hearings

Knowing that advocates work so closely with clients and staff members, there are a number of qualities that are necessary to become a successful advocate. Since advocates work with a wide range of people who come from different backgrounds, interpersonal skills such as communication and empathy are necessary to build a strong relationship with your client. Analytical skills such as research and critical thinking are also helpful when finding solutions and advising clients on their rights.

Advocates and Social Service Workers: Career Outlook

By 2032, an expected 63,800 openings for social workers are projected each year, on average according to BLS. There is a growing need for Advocates and Social Workers as the population increases as well as other factors, which makes growth in this field faster than average. Over the next decade, child, family, and school social worker jobs are expected to add the majority of positions with 18,900 new jobs projected.

Many positions in this field occur through separations/positions opened up from people retiring or leaving the profession. Since social workers and advocates often deal with clients that suffer from psychological trauma and addiction, it can be a taxing job. But, those with a passion for this type of work can find the challenges help them grow on many levels.

Employment Settings

There are a multitude of workplaces that social service workers and advocates may find themselves. Since clients consistently need help with legal, medical, financial, and psychological issues, there are many different fields a graduate can gain employment to advocate for clients’ rights and needs.

Typically, advocates will work in offices spaces with other social service workers where they interact with clients and personnel.

The largest employers for advocates of this type of work are individual and family services, local and state government, ambulatory healthcare services, and hospitals according to the BLS. Some common places of employment are:

  • Schools
  • Clinics and Hospitals
  • Substance Abuse Treatment Centers
  • Social Advocacy Organizations
  • Non-Profit Organizations
  • Retirement Communities
  • Hospice Care
  • Criminal Corrections Facilities
  • Legal System

Advocates can fight for patients’ rights in clinical settings, help clients navigate the legal system, and assist those with psychological issues to find the help they need. Another area of advocacy is legislative where advocates can work towards changing laws in favor of their clients’ needs.

What Can I Do With My Degree?

After earning an associate degree, individuals are qualified for some entry-level positions. It’s possible to find positions as assistants in human services and other entry-level jobs with an associate degree, though bachelor’s and master’s degrees are required for the majority of careers in this field. Those who seek to further their academic training and attain a bachelor’s or master’s degree will have more options to get a career with increased responsibilities and pay, such as a case manager or advocate. Choosing a school that offers a well-rounded program, with educators that can guide students through their academic life, will give you a solid foundation for your career goals.

Additional Training/Requirements

It is possible that employers will provide advocate hires with some basic paid training. For those with more experience, it is likely that the training will be shorter than those with little to no experience. The training would likely cover specific details about the company and their various processes, policies, and best practices when addressing and resolving common client problems. Requirements and training will vary per company and industry setting, as some companies may require specific certifications upon hire.

With over 170 years of providing students with quality educational programs, Bryant & Stratton seeks to guide students through their academic life and prepare them to succeed in their chosen career fields. If you are interested in becoming an advocate, begin a human and social services program today.

While these projections can help career-minded people evaluate potential employment fields, it is important to note that job market data from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Handbook is only intended to provide insight on occupational opportunities. It should not be construed as a guarantee of salary or job title. Neither BLS nor Bryant & Stratton College can guarantee employment in any field.

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