What Degree Do You Need to Be a Victim Advocate?

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What Degree Do You Need to Be a Victim Advocate?

Victim advocates are trained to assist crime victims. They provide

  • Emotional support.
  • Information about victims’ rights.
  • Assistance in locating essential services and filling out crime victim forms.

Specialized attorneys routinely accompany victims and their families to navigate the criminal justice system. Advocates collaborate with other organizations, including criminal justice and social care agencies, to provide assistance and information to the victims we represent. Advocates staff the statewide crisis hotline. Victim advocates’ roles differ based on the circumstances. A bachelor’s or master’s degree in an area such as social work or criminal justice is required for most victim advocates. Victim advocates often require relevant expertise and a bachelor’s degree in an area like psychology or victimology.

What Does a Victim Advocate Serve as?

A victim advocate serves as a link between the victim of a crime and the criminal justice system. The advocate counsels the victim on how the criminal justice system operates and how to navigate its processes. Victims should be aware of their legal rights and what will happen next as their case is resolved. For the criminal justice system to function, it must continually experience its traumas during police investigations and subsequent trials. In police interviews and court testimony, victims must relate their version of events. Advocates do everything they can to reduce the negative consequences of revisiting the tragedy.

Working Conditions

At any given hour on any given day, victim advocates may be found working in an office, a victim’s home, a hospital, a shelter, or a clinic. Victim advocates are sometimes called to crime scenes by police officers, detectives, and crime scene investigators to advise persons minutes or hours after a crime has occurred. This is a nomadic career; however, some people have an office as their home base and counsel clients there. Victim advocates can also assist victims by phone, email, or text in an emergency.

What Abilities Are Required for Victim Advocates?

Victim advocates must be able to listen and have a deep sense of empathy and sympathy for the people they help. Counseling and advocacy skills, the capacity to spot difficulties, and the willingness to participate in team problem-solving are valuable qualities. Knowledge of courtroom procedures is also advantageous.

What Steps Should Victim Advocates Do to Increase Their Chances of Getting Hired?

Victim advocates aren’t usually obliged to have any formal qualifications. However, the National Organization for Victim Assistance (NOVA) offers a National Certification Program (NACP) that can lead to professional credentialing. Advanced, intermediate, provisional, and basic certifications are available. The majority of firms prefer candidates who have prior work experience. Internships or voluntary work in social work, the legal system, or law enforcement can provide this experience. Candidates fluent in a second language are highly sought after, especially in places with a mixed cultural population.

What Does It Take to Become a Victim Advocate?

Some Victim Advocates obtain an associate’s degree or certification before entering the field. On the other hand, the majority holds a bachelor’s degree in social work, psychology, or criminal justice. Some businesses may also look for experience in case management or counseling, and interpersonal communication coursework is also required. For new Victim Advocates, most workplaces provide on-the-job training tailored to their specific context.

What Is the Role of a Victim Advocate?

Victim advocates provide a variety of services and support to crime victims. Their purpose is to assist victims in doing crucial duties to allow for necessary coping and recovery. Victims of significant crimes or violations, such as marital abuse, attempted murder, battery, sexual assault, and hate crimes, are the people they campaign for. Some of the assistance provided by these specialists is directly related to a crime, such as assisting victims in navigating the criminal justice system or locating a lawyer. They might also help victims get connected to emergency services or counseling. They may be able to assist with basic day-to-day tasks in some circumstances. Victim advocates operate in a variety of settings. Government law offices, police agencies, courts, medical facilities, social service programs, and charitable groups may assign victim advocates to victims. Victim advocates frequently accompany victims to court appearances, legal hearings, support groups, and information sessions to provide emotional and legal support.

Which Are the Common Areas of Work Possible for Victim Advocates?

Victim advocates can work in various settings, including courts, police stations, jails, and nonprofits like domestic abuse centers. Their tasks may differ depending on various conditions, including their work environment. The victim advocate’s ultimate purpose is to bring comfort to persons who feel overwhelmed due to a crime perpetrated against them. Individuals may find it simpler to pursue justice and healing if they have this kind of assistance.

What Does It Take to Become a Victim Advocate?

Being a victim advocate is a difficult job, and the role itself can be challenging and draining emotionally. As a result, success in the role necessitates a specialized skill set and background in victim advocate education. Victim advocates must approach each situation with an open mind that develops trust and avoids passing judgment. The following are some of the essential skills for a successful victim advocate:

Communication Abilities

Victim advocates must be able to plainly and adequately communicate a victim’s requirements.

Interpersonal Abilities

Victim advocates must learn to communicate with people from various social, economic, and educational backgrounds.

Skills in Listening

The details of a victim’s case are frequently delicate, and victim advocates must comprehend this material thoroughly.

Skills in Organization

Because a victim advocate may assist victims with several duties, they must be able to prioritize and keep track of diverse case components efficiently.

Educational Requisites

A Bachelor’s Degree

It is the minimum educational prerequisite for becoming a victim advocate. Depending on the study, the degree can be in psychology, forensic psychology, social work, sociology, or criminal justice. A master’s degree in a field such as criminal justice or behavioral science is required for people who desire to move to a high-level position in the victim advocate area.

Following the Curriculum

Through a curriculum built on core psychology and criminal justice courses, some programs, such as an online bachelor’s degree in forensic psychology, can prepare students to pursue a career as victim advocates. Abnormal psychology, social psychology, and human cognition are standard psychology courses. Criminal law and procedure, criminal conduct, and police psychology are standard criminal justice courses.

Earning a Master’s

While obtaining a bachelor’s degree can put a person on the proper track to becoming a victim advocate, it does not guarantee employment in the area. This is especially true for advanced victim advocate roles, which require candidates to have a master’s degree to be considered.

Furthering Education

Although certification is not needed for victim advocates, it may lead to more advanced changes, as some businesses prefer to hire qualified persons for high-level roles. Victim advocates can get information on certification from organizations like the National Organization for Victim Assistance (NOVA).

Payment for Victim Advocates

Victim advocates can expect to earn around $36,000 per year in 2020, according to PayScale. Several factors influence this figure. First, a victim advocate’s salary is determined by their level of experience; someone with several years of expertise may be able to earn more than the median. Workplace location is also a deciding factor. A victim advocate who lives in a high-cost-of-living location should expect to earn more than someone living in a low-cost area. Jobs for human service assistant professionals, including victims’ advocates, are expected to grow by 13% between 2018 and 2028, according to the BLS, which is approximately double the national average growth rate for all occupations. These professionals have a bright future and make a difference in the lives of vulnerable people and communities.

Victim Advocates Have a Bright Future

Victim advocates concentrate in fields where job development is predicted to be strong. Between 2018 and 2028, the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicts a 14 percent rise in employment in psychology-related occupations and an 11 percent increase in social work jobs. These rates are significantly more significant than the 5% growth anticipated for all jobs in the United States over that period.

Victim Advocates’ Must-Have Skills

The following is a list of critical abilities and attributes that can impact the success of victim advocates. Soft skills, which govern the essential interpersonal interactions at the heart of effective victim advocacy, make up most of the things on this list. Education aids in developing soft skills into valuable instruments for a professional job.


Empathy is the ability to understand the feelings and perspectives of another individual. Victim advocates use empathy to build trust with clients and make them feel heard and understood in the criminal justice system. Empathy aids these experts in responding effectively, avoiding manipulation, and understanding the victims’ feelings.


Victim advocates are not registered professional counselors or therapists, although they help clients use counseling techniques and abilities. Clients may be referred to counselors by victim advocates, who may also provide transportation to counselor offices.


The specifics and information surrounding criminal incidents can be challenging to understand. Victim advocates must be excellent problem solvers who can negotiate emotionally and legally challenging situations.


Victim advocates work alongside police, detectives, attorneys, judges, correctional officials, and probation officers on criminal justice teams. Other members of these teams may have conflicting agendas or goals, and victim advocates must be skilled in their positions and supportive of their colleagues.


Victim advocates must understand how, when, and where to speak up on behalf of their clients. Advocacy may entail speaking on behalf of clients to other team members or assisting clients in learning how to advocate for themselves and their families.

Requirements for Victim Advocates

Aspiring victim advocates can learn about the educational and professional prerequisites for the profession in the areas below. More information regarding criminal justice degrees is also available to readers.

Victim Advocates’ Learning Requirements

Formal education in criminal justice or a similar discipline is often required for aspiring victim advocates. For lower-paying positions, some agencies hire individuals with associate degrees. Associate degrees take two years to complete and can be used as a springboard for further education. On the other hand, most organizations favor people with criminal justice bachelor’s degrees. These four-year degrees, which usually include internships, can increase earnings. In victim advocacy, master’s degrees can lead to positions of leadership or teaching.

Victim Advocates Must Have a License and Certification

The National Organization for Victim Assistance offers certification to victim advocate practitioners (NOVA). This optional credentialing program can help you boost your career. For advocates to achieve NOVA accreditation, they must complete at least 40 hours of pre-service training and frequently updated continuing education units. Basic, intermediate, and advanced qualifications are available, and training in up to three specialist areas, including homicide, sexual assault, and campus advocacy. A primary credential applicant must complete 20 hours of training in at least one specialty area.

Victim Advocates Must Have Prior Experience

Victim advocates must possess a diverse set of skills, knowledge, and personal traits, typically acquired through a combination of formal education and experience. Although most organizations do not require victim advocates to have a specific professional background, life experience fostering empathy, patience, listening, and good interpersonal communication skills can be beneficial. Many victim advocates have worked in social work, police enforcement, or another sector supporting victims of crime or abuse. Volunteer work, internships, and paid employment are good ways for future victim advocates to gather experience.

Victim Advocate Competencies and Skills

As a victim advocate, you’ll need the following attributes and skills:

Communication Skills

This is a career that requires a lot of talking. Choosing and utilizing the correct words can make or break a victim’s mental health. Bilingual abilities are advantageous, especially in places with a diverse population.

Interpersonal Abilities

Compassion and empathy are essential.

Problem-Solving Abilities

An analytical mind is required to examine and assess the best options for victims in various situations.

Organizational Skills

Victim advocates must keep meticulous and accurate records and make them available to others, often on short notice.


Victim advocates can give a voice to those who are typically silenced due to their fear, bewilderment, or overwhelming feelings. The advice of these professionals can help survivors not only get justice but also cope with the effects of a crime on their lives. Victim advocates have a wide range of responsibilities. They assist eligible victims in obtaining assistance, deal with creditors when necessary, keep victims informed about the status of their cases, and inform victims whether the person suspected of a crime in their case has been detained or released.

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