Debt advisers are employed by citizens advice bureaux, educational establishments, independent and neighbourhood advice centres and voluntary and charitable organisations. The work is challenging and varied with duties that range from interviewing clients, assessing problems and writing reports, to mediating on a client's behalf and providing legal advice. Other responsibilities include:
- researching cases
- identifying and discussing appropriate options
- providing information
- offering support
- compiling financial statements
- preparing/distributing publicity materials and displays
- attending meetings
Referral and liaison with other relevant organisations are key features of the work. The people helped can often be in crisis situations, with very complex problems.
The small numbers of permanent salaried vacancies and formal training opportunities that arise normally attract strong competition. Consequently, most people enter, and often remain within the profession as volunteers, or are employed on short-term contracts.
Vacancies are advertised via the internet; in local, regional and national newspapers; in publications including Adviser Magazine; and in job sections of the Citizens Advice and AdviceUK websites. Speculative approaches to employers are advisable, particularly for work experience placements – directories such as The Voluntary Agencies Directory may provide useful contact information.
Previous relevant work experience is essential prior to entry into the profession. This can be gained by job shadowing or helping voluntarily in a local advice centre, citizens advice bureau or students union welfare office.
Personality and relevant experience are usually more important than degree subject studied, although qualifications in law, counselling, guidance, psychology, education, social/community work, public administration or social sciences can be helpful.
Resourcefulness and good verbal and written communication skills are essential, as is a mature, confident, caring and patient manner.