How to Become a Consumer Advocate: Career Path Guide
If you want to become a consumer advocate, you first need to determine if this career path is a good fit for you. If the following description sounds like you, then you’re probably well suited for a career as a consumer advocate:
Whether working in an entry-level job with little education, or acting as an attorney for an advocacy group, those who become consumer advocates are typically individuals that are dedicated to public service. Consumer advocates are comfortable sharing their ideas and opinions with others. They enjoy working with others and have above average skills in verbal and written communication.
Below we've outlined what you'll need to begin a career as a consumer advocate. We've also included helpful information for this career, such as job description, job duties, salary expectations, a list of possible employers and much more!
Education Needed to Become a Consumer Advocate
In order to become a consumer advocate, you typically need at least a bachelor’s degree that relates to your area of focus in advocacy. For example consumer advocates who plan to work against predatory lending could major in business, accounting or finance.
Regardless of your area of focus, pursuing coursework in communications is excellent preparation for a career as a consumer advocate, as it provides you with skills and knowledge that are transferable to a variety of areas within consumer advocacy, such as:
• Knowledge of organizational communication structures
• Strong oral presentation skills
• Effective interpersonal communication skills
Although a bachelor’s degree may be sufficient to gain an entry-level job in consumer advocacy, some consumer advocacy careers may require graduate or professional degrees. For example, if you want to become a lawyer that works as a consumer advocate, you will require a law degree and regional licensure as an attorney.
Consumer Advocate Job Description
Consumer advocates are responsible for representing and informing consumers, and advocating on their behalf to improve their quality of life, and the quality of the marketplace in general.
Their work helps protect consumers from dangerous products and unfair business practices by acting as the catalyst for enacting processes that lead to the penalization of individuals and organizations that conduct business in a manner that is unethical, distrustful or abusive.
Consumer advocates generally operate within a market sector in which they have a certain level of expertise. For example, advocates who work to advocate against usurious and predatory lending practices are typically educated and experienced in finance or economics.
Consumer advocacy careers can take different forms; advocates may be lawyers, lobbyists, bureaucrats, non-profit foundation managers, grassroots organizers, policy analysts, product and service testers, and outreach coordinators.
Consumer Advocate Job Duties
• Offer direct assistance to consumers through seminars, hotlines or classes
• May run bureaus for consumers who have specific problems, such as failure to receive goods purchased online
• May be involved in publishing magazines and brochures in order to help consumers avoid common pitfalls
• Ensure items such as clothing, automobiles, office equipment, toys and others are not hazardous by conducting tests
• May specialize in a specific field, such as housing or automobiles
• May lobby government for legislation that helps protect consumers
Who Hires Consumer Advocates?
Individuals and organizations that are involved in protecting the public from dangerous and unfair business practices hire consumer advocates. Consumer advocates may work on a volunteer, contract, part-time or full-time basis for these individuals and organizations:
• Government agencies, such as the Office of Consumer Affairs in Canada
• Community groups
• Consumer protection agencies, such as the Better Business Bureau
• Independent public authorities, such as the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC)
• Private corporations
• Private citizens
• General and specialized law firms
Skills and Traits Needed to Become a Consumer Advocate
In order to become successful in a career as a consumer advocate, you need to posses certain skills and personality traits. These skills and traits will allow you to perform your job duties with competence, and allow you to endure the ups and downs of this career.
• Ability to create persuasive arguments
• Excellent negotiation skills
• Extroverted and inclined to networking
• A strong understanding of political and legislative processes
• Must be able to work as a team
• Outstanding written and oral communication skills
• Comfortable sharing their thoughts and opinions with others
• Willingness to work long hours
• Expert knowledge base in chosen field
• A commitment to public service and the protection of others
Salary Level for Consumer Advocates
The salary level of consumer can vary greatly depending on many factors, such as their level of education, industry experience, their reputation, their contacts and many others. The salary of consumer advocates can also vary widely depending on if the advocate is representing a private organization, an individual, or a non-profit organization/special interest group, as jobs representing private organizations typically pay more.
There is no reliable salary data available for Consumer Advocates specifically, although we can get an idea of what they earn by looking at the closely related career, Lobbyist.
According to Georgetown University, the salary range in lobbying can extend from the $20,000 to more than $150,000 with a median annual salary of $49,000.
Working Conditions for Consumer Advocates
Consumer advocates typically work in an office setting with other members of their team. They spend a great deal of time performing research related to current and pending legislation, meeting with team members, reading industry publications and blogs, as well as composing presentations.
They may travel to locations in close proximity to make speeches, give presentations, recruit new members or meet with government contacts, industry contacts, clients and legislators.
Consumer advocates typically work anywhere from 40 to 80 hours per week. In certain circumstances they may work very long hours and often late into the night.
Consumer Advocate Jobs
Our job board below has "Consumer Advocate" postings in Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom and Australia.
Careers Similar to Consumer Advocate
Listed below are careers in our database that are similar in nature to Consumer Advocate, as they may involve many of the same skills, competencies and responsibilities.
References: How to Become a Consumer Advocate
Please use the references below to find more information on the various aspects of a career as a consumer advocate.
Alberta Consumers’ Association website: www.albertaconsumers.org
Education Portal website: education-portal.com
National Association of Consumer Advocates website: www.naca.net
Scholarships for Becoming a Consumer Advocate
Scholarships listed for majors that apply to becoming a Consumer Advocate can be found on our All Scholarships by Major page.
Success Tip: Be sure to apply for any scholarships that you even barely qualify for, as there are millions of dollars of scholarships that go unused every year due to a lack of applicants!
Becoming a Consumer Advocate: Applicable Majors
Studying one of the university majors listed below is an excellent starting point to becoming a Consumer Advocate. Click on the links to find out what else you can do with these majors!