Victims of violent crimes and sexual assaults can feel alone and in need of psychological or emotional counseling. Victim advocates act on their behalf, investigating abuses or crimes, getting victims medical help, finding them housing and intervening for them in courts. If you care about people and prefer seeing justice when they're mistreated, a job as a victim advocate may be the perfect career. You'll need at least a bachelor's degree in social work or a related major. In return, you can expect to earn slightly less than the average wage of $45,790, according to CNN Money.
Salary and Qualifications
The average annual salary for a victim advocate was $40,000 as of 2013, according to the job site Simply Hired. To become a victim advocate, you need at least a bachelor's degree in social work, marriage, family or child counseling, criminal justice, psychology or education, depending on your specialty. Employers often prefer hiring those with two or more years of experience as a victim advocate. Other essential requirements are compassion, emotional stability and listening, speaking, organizational, people, problem-solving and time management skills.
Salary by Region
In 2013, average salaries for victim advocates varied the most within the South region, according to Simply Hired, where they earned the highest salaries of $63,000 in Washington, D.C., and lowest of $31,000 in Mississippi. Those in the Midwest made $31,000 to $43,000 in South Dakota and Minnesota, respectively. If you worked as a victim advocate in Maine or Massachusetts, you'd earn $36,000 or $49,000 per year, respectively, which were the lowest and highest incomes in the Northeast. In the West, you'd earn the most in California or least in Montana – $46,000 or $32,000, respectively.
Although the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics doesn't report incomes for victim advocates, their salaries may be higher in the same industries where social workers earn more, as they perform similar duties to social workers. For example, social workers, besides those who work in schools, health care or substance abuse, earned more working for the federal government, according to May 2012 data from the BLS – $71,160 versus the industry average of $54,870. You'll also earn more in California and Washington, D.C., because your living costs would be higher in either city. If you make $40,000 in Des Moines, Iowa, you'd need to make $60,219 in Boston to maintain your living standard. According to CNN Money's "Cost of Living" calculator, in Washington, D.C., you'd have to earn $62,850 for the same reason, or approximately 57 percent more.
The BLS doesn't forecast jobs for victim advocates. It does project a 25 percent increase in jobs for social workers, a similar field, from 2010 to 2020, which is faster than the national average of 14 percent for all jobs. An increase in the number of investigations for child abuse may create some opportunities for victim advocates, as will overall population increases throughout the United States. These jobs are often contingent on the economy as government agencies, hospitals and advocacy groups likely increase their hiring budgets during stronger economies.
2016 Salary Information for Social Workers
Social workers earned a median annual salary of $47,460 in 2016, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. On the low end, social workers earned a 25th percentile salary of $36,790, meaning 75 percent earned more than this amount. The 75th percentile salary is $60,790, meaning 25 percent earn more. In 2016, 682,000 people were employed in the U.S. as social workers.
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Social Workers: Job Outlook
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Occupational Employment Statistics: Social Workers, All Others
- The National Center For Victims of Crime: What is a Victim Advocate?
- CareersInPsychology.org: Careers as a Victim Advocate
- Simply Hired: Average Victims Advocate Salaries
- Glassdoor: Victim Advocate Salaries
- CNN Money: Cost of Living: How Far Will My Salary Go In Another City?
- Simply Hired: Average Victims Advocate Salaries in ME, NY and MA
- Simply Hired: Average Victims Advocate Salaries in MS and DC
- CNN Money: Wages Stink at America's Most Common Jobs
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Occupational Outlook Handbook: Social Workers
- Career Trend: Social Workers
- Jupiterimages/liquidlibrary/Getty Images