What Is an Advocate Job? (With Job Duties and Skills)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 11 October 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

The role of an advocate is to assist others, where you can determine their needs and assert them to others. Advocates can work in various industries and help individuals, such as patients, senior citizens and students. Gaining insight into a career as an advocate can help you determine if it aligns with your interests. In this article, we discuss what is an advocate job, including the typical responsibilities, the skills that professionals use and the salary prospects for fulfilling the role.

What is an advocate job?

An advocate job is a counselling position where a professional advises a client and speaks on their behalf to a company or organisation. Advocates provide helpful resources to their clients to assist them in obtaining the help they need. They also speak with leaders of the organisation on the opposite side of the conflict to determine a plan for fulfilling the clients' wishes and solving the problem.

Related: What Is a Social Worker? (With Duties and Qualifications)

What duties does an advocate job include?

Advocates take part in communicating with their clients to identify why they're seeking help and representing their interests when speaking to others. Their typical responsibilities include:

  • consulting the clients about their goals

  • answering the clients' questions throughout the process

  • providing emotional and mental support to keep clients encouraged

  • developing a course of action that considers the clients' best interests

  • devising solutions to satisfy the clients' desires and resolve the issues

  • creating and maintaining documentation about the situation

What skills do advocate jobs require?

Here are examples of the soft and technical abilities the advocate position may require:

Counselling

Professionals use counselling techniques to deliver helpful advice and feedback while fostering trust with the client. They understand how to maintain a positive attitude to keep the client calm. Their insight into the client's emotions helps them better understand the situation and their interests. Their gentle approach to speaking and gathering information may encourage the client to share their thoughts. For example, when speaking with a student for the first time, the advocate may create a safe environment that makes the student feel comfortable to discuss where they need help.

Conflict resolution

Conflict resolution enables advocates to deescalate situations and devise helpful solutions. They use compromising techniques to satisfy all involved parties, including the individuals they represent and representatives from the organisation. Advocates understand how to assert their requests that exemplify their client's interests, while also allowing the opposing group to express themselves as well.

Interpersonal communication

Advocates use interpersonal communication to build relationships and foster trust with their clients. They practice active listening, which enables them to understand the situation. Nonverbal cues, such as direct eye contact and nodding, can show the client the advocate is delivering their full, undivided attention.

Professionals also know how to tailor their communication patterns based on the person with whom they're speaking. For example, an advocate may use technical language when speaking with a health care professional about a patient's status. When conversing with the patient, the advocate may choose simpler terms to ensure the patient comprehends what's happening. Interpersonal skills can be beneficial when encountering clients of different demographics, such as age.

Read more: Why Interpersonal Communication Is So Important at Work

Emotional intelligence

Emotional intelligence can complement conflict resolution skills, where advocates can show compassion and deescalate a tense situation. They can recognise various emotions among their clients and determine the best course of action that prioritises the clients' emotional well-being. They can also identify feelings that may have led to the disagreement, which helps them better represent the client.

For example, in a conflict between a patient and the medical team, the advocate may empathise with the patient receiving the diagnosis or undergoing the treatment plan. Their visualisation of the patient's experience empowers the advocate to illustrate the concerns to the hospital.

Written communication

Using competent writing skills, professionals can develop comprehensive reports that document the activities of their advocacy. When meeting with their clients for the first time, advocates can take detailed notes on the circumstances that led to the conflicts and the goals the clients are trying to achieve. They may know how to organise their thoughts on paper to better articulate their arguments to the organisation. They can also prioritise the important details for easy reference as the advocacy progresses. For example, when attending a court hearing, the advocate practises written communication to record the updates of the case.

Read more: Written Communication Skills: Tips and Examples

Computer proficiency

Proficiency with computers allows advocates to organise and store the records of reports they've developed about their work with clients. Advocates understand how to navigate databases to access the information they may need. If a case requires research, such as during a legal proceeding, advocates may use writing software to compile their findings and interpret how to best serve the client. They can also coordinate the contents of their reports on computers to make it easier to read and show to the clients if necessary.

What is the work environment for an advocate job?

The work environment for advocates typically depends on their industry and employment type. For example, freelance advocates often have more flexibility with their schedules, where they can choose when they're available and how often they want to work. Since they're not permanently employed, they may frequently travel to provide counselling to their clients.

In-house employees typically work full time within the standard business hours of their employers. They participate in meetings in an office setting and visit the site where their clients are experiencing conflicts. Advocacy specialisations include:

  • Health care: Advocates may work with patients in medical facilities, such as hospitals, clinics and rehabilitation centres. Their objective is to ensure that patients receive the care they need.

  • Education: Academic institutions, such as universities and schools, may hire advocates to speak on students' behalf to deliver educational support. Advocates can meet with the students to identify how to best help them reach their academic goals.

  • Law: When legal disputes arise, advocates may assist individuals in acquiring proper counsel from lawyers and navigating the justice system. They may accompany the clients throughout the case proceedings to provide mental and emotional support.

  • Nursing homes: Retired individuals and members of the ageing population may seek assistance from advocates. Professionals implement strategies to ensure their clients reside in comfortable, safe living environments.

  • Retail: When customers experience conflict with retail stores, advocates intervene to determine strategies for helping the customers and ensuring their satisfaction. They also speak with retail managers to determine how to resolve the tension.

Related: How To Become a Support Coordinator in 3 Steps

What is the average salary for an advocate job?

The average salary for an advocate job is $70,014 per year. If you're interested in a career in advocacy, then it may be helpful to explore the factors that can affect how much money you earn. Here are some examples:

  • Education: An advanced educational background can differentiate you from other candidates, and you can negotiate a higher salary with the employer. For example, you may have more income as an advocate with a bachelor's degree than you would with an associate degree or high school diploma.

  • Work experience: Your earning potential may increase as you gain more experience in the industry. For instance, after working with patients for 20 years, your yearly wages may be more substantial than they were at the beginning of your career.

  • Employment type: Contemplate how your decision to work as an independent contractor versus a permanent employee and vice versa can influence your yearly income. As a freelancer, for example, your earnings may fluctuate depending on your service rates and the number of clients you work with, while traditional staff members have set compensation plans that their employers authorise.

  • Employer: Organisations often have budgets that determine their compensation plans for their employees, and every set salary may be different. For aspiring in-house advocates, consider comparing job offers to select the position that meets your financial needs.

  • Industry: The field you work in and the people you advocate for can influence your salary. For instance, advocates who work in health care may make more money than their counterparts who work in retail.

Salary figures reflect data listed on Indeed Salaries at the time of writing. Salaries may vary depending on the hiring organisation and a candidate's experience, academic background and location.

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