How Do I Become a Bill Collector?

Research what it takes to become a bill collector. Learn about education and training, job growth and salary statistics to find out if this is the career for you. Schools offering Accounting & Finance degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Is a Bill Collector?

A bill collector's job is to obtain payments from debtors with overdue bills. These often include household debts like credit cards, mortgage payments, medical bills or auto loans. They begin by locating the customer and informing them of the charge. When customers have questions about the reasons for the payment, they provide an explanation, such as the terms of a sale or contract. From there, they negotiate a repayment plan. If the debtor continues to refuse to pay, the collector informs the authorities so that legal action can be taken.

Take a look at the following table to see how to enter this field.

Degree Required High school diploma or GED; associate's degree or certificate preferred by some employers
Training Required On-the-job training
Key Skills Communication, critical thinking, data entry, accounting
Job Growth (2014-2024) -6%*
Average Annual Wage (2015) $36,600*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Education Will I Need to Become a Bill Collector?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), you need at least a high school diploma or GED equivalent for this job (www.bls.gov). Although a diploma is the minimum requirement, the BLS notes that employers may look for customer service experience or additional education, which can include an associate's degree or certificate in a related area, such as accounting or business administration. Obtaining a certificate or degree can also help you develop the communication, critical-thinking, data-entry, English and math skills commonly used in debt collection.

How Can I Train?

Generally, your employer will offer on-the-job training. During this training you may work with an experienced collector to learn the procedures, telephone techniques and negotiation tactics utilized by the company. Classroom software training may also be provided.

You can also find professional training and certification through organizations, such as the Association of Credit and Collection Professionals and International Association of Professional Debt Arbitrators. Their programs can help you learn additional debt-collection techniques or prepare for career advancement with your company.

Where Can I Work?

Depending on the company, you may have another title, such as debt collector, credit clerk or biller. You may represent the company that is directly owed, which is called first-party debt collection. You can also work as a third-party debt collector for a company that buys delinquent debts and then tries to collect, a collection agency that was hired by the original company or law firm that collects owed funds.

What Salary Can I Expect to Earn?

The BLS reported that the average salary for bill and account collectors was $36,600 in 2015. The BLS also predicted that employment of these positions would decline by 6% between 2014 and 2024. This decline is attributed to consolidation within the field, which is increasing efficiency by using automated systems.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

If you want to get a job related to billing, you could also consider becoming a billing clerk. Billing clerks can work for organizations in a wide range of industries, evaluating the relevant documents so that they can send out bills to customers and clients. For instance, billing clerks at hospitals review medical records and issue accurate bills to individuals and insurance companies. The minimum educational requirement for this job is a high school diploma. Another possible job of interest is a position as a loan clerk. Loan clerks interview loan applicants for their personal and financial information, and they assist with the preparation of final loan documents. You need to have at least a high school diploma for this job.

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