The work is challenging and varied with duties that range from interviewing clients and writing reports to assessing benefit entitlements and providing legal representation at tribunals. Other responsibilities include:
- maintaining confidential records
- preparing and distributing publicity materials and displays
- giving presentations
- interpreting legislation
- researching and negotiating cases
- suggesting appropriate courses of action to clients and liaising with relevant departments and organisations
- Local authorities
- Housing associations
- Legal firms
- Universities and similar institutions
- Voluntary and charitable organisations
Vacancies are advertised in local, regional and national newspapers, and online on websites such as Opportunities and Advice UK as well as the Citizens Advice website. Speculative approaches to employers are advisable, particularly for work experience placements.
There are no set qualifications for becoming a welfare rights officer, so entry into the profession is possible both with or without a degree.
For graduates any degree is acceptable, although a degree in law, social work, politics, public administration or social sciences can be particularly helpful. However, many employers value relevant work experience over academic qualifications.
For both graduates and school leavers, a minimum of one year's paid or voluntary advice work experience is usually necessary prior to entry into the profession. This can be gained by working in a local advice centre, citizens advice bureau or students union welfare office. Most people enter the profession as volunteers.
It may be possible to enter the profession through an apprenticeship, for example you could become a local government benefits officer via this route. Apprenticeships are advertised on the government website.
To find out more about public sector careers that you can get into via a school leaver route (eg and apprenticeship or school leaver training programme) see the public sector section of TARGETcareers, our website aimed at school leavers.
- Good verbal and written communication skills