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Advice Worker

Provides impartial and confidential information, advice, and guidance to individuals about a variety of social, financial, legal and employment problems.

Advice workers provide free, confidential and impartial advice to their clients. They work with the community, and especially with the more vulnerable in society who may need guideance on their rights in a range of legal, financial, social, employment and general consumer issues. They may work closely with social workers and solicitors to provide this service. Some advisers offer general advice across a variety of areas while others specialise in one particular area, such as money or housing.

Advice workers are likely to spend time explaining information fully, and helping the client to think about how best to use it. The work involved falls into categories such as, information, advice, referral, mediation and representation.

While face-to-face and telephone interviews are important to advice giving, technology is increasingly important and clients can now seek advice through email and the internet.

Consumer rights advisers are there to inform individuals of their rights as a consumer and to help them enforce these rights.

Money advisers help individuals and families deal with debts and make out a budget. They examine client’s income to make sure they are not missing out on any of their entitlements and may contact creditors on behalf of clients with offers of payment if they are not able to do it themselves. In addition they help clients decide on the best way to make the payments.

Housing advisers provide information, advice and advocacy services to both landlords and tenants on rights, responsibilities and correct practises.

Community advice/information workers help people to cope with a variety of problems, and to find out what their rights and responsibilities are.

Work conditions

Travel: will depend on employing organisation.
Working hours: vary according to employer but may involve shifts (with telephone helpline work for example).
Location: mainly in urban areas throughout the country.
Opportunities for self-employment: unlikely.

Typical employers

  • Consumer agencies
  • Free legal advice centres
  • Voluntary housing organisations.

Career development

Varies depending on the employer/organisation.

Salaries

Salaries vary depending on employing organisation, but can roughly fall somewhere between €35,000 and €50,000.

Specific degrees required

Open to non-graduates and graduates of any discipline.

Other relevant degree subjects

  • Community/Youth work
  • Law/Legal studies
  • Social policy
  • Social science
  • Social studies (housing and community studies)
  • Social work
  • Sociology.

Postgraduate study

A pre-entry postgraduate qualification is not a requirement.

Training

Training will usually be provided by the employer and will vary depending on the organisation. It may involve supervision with a line manager or a comprehensive training and development programme provided for each member of staff.

Tips for applications

Gain experience especially through voluntary work with relevant organisations for example Focus Ireland’s Community Service Volunteer Programme.

Skills and qualities

  • Commitment to social justice.
  • Ability to reassure and empathise with clients.
  • Ability to give clear, impartial and objective advice.
  • Patience, tact and diplomacy to help clients work through sensitive or personal matters.
  • Good communication skills both written and oral.
  • Confidence to represent clients' cases in court or at a tribunal.
  • Excellent listening skills and the ability to ask the right questions.
  • Excellent numeracy skills especially for money advisers.
  • Thorough knowledge of current legislation, on benefits, equal opportunities and consumer law.
  • Excellent organisational skills and ability to multi-task.
  • Ability to work as part of a team and to liais with other professionals such as social workers and solicitors.