Victim advocates obtain legal evidence and testimony, provide counseling and navigate bureaucratic agencies on behalf of sufferers and/or injured parties. Individuals interested in this field may pursue an associate's or master's degree in the area. Online courses and programs can also be found.
Associate of Applied Science in Victim Advocacy
The 2-year Associate of Applied Science in Victim Advocacy curriculum covers crisis management and services, criminology, victim assistance and recovery, communication skills and counseling techniques. Applicants must have a high school diploma or the General Education Development (GED) equivalent. These programs are typically offered by community colleges. Victim advocacy associate's courses provide students with a broad overview of the social work and advocacy fields, with an emphasis on victim management. Common classes include:
- Human communication
- Introductory criminal justice
- Victimology and crisis management
- Family violence
- Volunteer organization and management
Master of Science in Criminal Justice
Students in a Master of Science (M.S.) in Criminal Justice program with a concentration in victim advocacy learn about crime and violence trends, restorative justice and victimization prevention. They also gain direct client experience with counseling internships and fieldwork. Coursework takes 2 years to complete and requires an undergraduate degree, letters of recommendation, acceptable Graduate Records Exam (GRE) scores and prior work experience for admission. Prospective enrollees must also have psychology, sociology and/or criminal justice credits. The master's degree curriculum is an in-depth analysis of the social and cultural influences that necessitate victim counseling. Some course examples are:
- Violence and sexual assault
- Domestic violence and neglect
- Counseling theory and practice
- Crisis intervention
Graduates may work for private entities, non-profit organizations and government agencies that aid communities in need, like hospitals, crisis centers, law enforcement and domestic violence centers. Some popular job roles are:
- Social services assistant
- Human services assistant
- Management and administration support
Employment Outlook and Salary Information
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment for social and human services assistants is predicted to grow at a rate of 11% over the 2014-2024 decade with a mean annual wage of $33,190 as of May 2015.
Some graduates further their education by attaining a bachelor's degree in psychology, social work or business, which can prepare them for supervisory victim management employment roles. With a field-associated doctoral degree in criminal justice or counseling, students are eligible to teach at the postsecondary level. Victim advocacy and social work licensure requirements vary by state, but most mandate an advanced degree and some hands-on experience.
Programs looking at victim advocacy can be found at the associate's and master's degree levels. These programs examine topics such as crisis management, violence within families, sexual assault, and more, preparing students for careers in social and human services as well as related fields.