Career Definition for a Family Advocate
Family advocates provide support and counseling for families who are suffering from the results of traumas, such as sexual and violent abuse, drug or alcohol addiction, abduction and other crises. They typically function as social service professionals who refer families to relevant services and resources. Family advocates can be employed by government agencies, the military and non-profit organizations.
|Educational Requirements||Bachelor's or master's degree required|
|Job Skills||Strong interpersonal and communication skills, good crisis management skills, good professional manner and good organizational skills|
|Median Salary (2017)*||$44,380 (all child, family and school social workers)|
|Job Outlook (2016-2026)*||16% (all child, family and school social workers)|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Government and other social service providers have different hiring qualifications for family advocates. However, a career in the field generally requires a bachelor's or master's degree in social services, psychology, criminal justice or a related field. Many family advocates who are employed by the federal government are licensed social workers who have completed a Master of Social Work (MSW), possess two years of work experience and have passed a licensing exam.
A career in family advocacy requires strong interpersonal skills, including the ability to communicate with both clients and colleagues from other agencies. Family advocates often work in emotionally charged situations, where flexibility and a calm and professional manner are necessary to help families in crisis. Professionals employed in advocacy positions should also have the advanced writing skills necessary to generate and review reports. A sense of compassion, active listening abilities and good organizational, problem-solving and time-management skills are also key for family advocates.
Career and Salary Outlook
Family advocates are employed throughout the country, and job demand can vary with government funding. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) expects that jobs for social workers who assist children and families will grow by 16% nationwide from 2016 to 2026, or faster than average when compared to all other occupations. The median salary for workers in the field of child, family and school services was $44,380, as of May 2017.
Alternate Career Options
Similar career options in this field include:
Health Educators and Community Health Workers
Health educators plan and implement policies and programs that help people acquire wellness-promoting behaviors. They may be assisted by community health workers, who gather information and communicate with groups or individuals about health issues. Both educators and workers can be employed in a number of different settings, such as doctor's offices, government agencies, hospitals or nonprofit organizations. Hiring requirements for health educators can include a bachelor's degree and a Certified Health Education Specialist credential; community health workers must have a high school diploma and complete a period of on-the-job training.
The BLS reports that employment opportunities for both health educators and community health workers nationwide are expected to increase by 16%, or faster than average, from 2016-2026. In May 2017, the BLS reported that health educators earned a median salary of $53,940 and that community health workers earned a median salary of $38,370.
Substance Abuse and Behavioral Disorder Counselors
Counselors who assist clients with behavioral and substance abuse issues work for community or mental health centers, prisons and other facilities, or in private practice. Their clients can include individuals who are suffering from alcoholism, addictions to illegal substances, behavioral problems or eating disorders. Educational requirements vary according to employer, position and state, and can range from a certificate to a master's degree in a relevant field of study. Counselors employed in private practice must be licensed. As reported by the BLS, substance abuse and behavioral disorder counselors can look forward to a 23%, or much faster than average, growth in job prospects between 2016 and 2026. Those employed as substance abuse, behavioral disorder and mental health counselors in May 2017 earned median annual wages of $43,300.