What Is a Consumer Credit Counselor?

Consumer credit counselors help people manage their debt and find better ways to budget their finances. Keep reading to learn what a consumer credit counselor does and what education is required for this job. Schools offering Finance degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Career Overview

A consumer credit counselor helps clients manage their finances and make a plan to get out of debt. The counselor might work for himself or herself or may be employed by a nonprofit organization or government entity. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) regulates credit counseling agencies that work with the general public.

Important Facts About Consumer Credit Counselors

Job Outlook (2016-2026) 14% growth*
Required Education High school diploma, or equivalent; associate's or bachelor's degree preferred
Key Skills Close listening, clear speech, critical thinking, reading comprehension, customer service oriented, clear judgment and decision making, social nuance
Similar Occupations Financial coach, assistant director of financial literacy, financial health counselor, financial wellness coach

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Duties and Responsibilities

As a counselor, you would work with clients to teach them to manage their debt. This might include identifying clients' creditors, determining how much debt they have, and calculating how much money they pay toward their debt on a monthly basis. You also might help them establish a budget and debt repayment plan. As a consumer counselor, you would mainly advise individual consumers, but you also could advise businesses or organizations. Other tasks you might perform include recommending the best type of loan for a client or providing advice about mortgages or claiming bankruptcy.

Your main goal is to suggest the best path to paying off debt. You might need to communicate with banks and credit card companies to which your client owes money to negotiate settlements or repayment plans. In this circumstance, you will need to explain to the client any rules for participating in a credit repayment program.

Certification

Certification is not required to work as a consumer credit counselor, but it is available through the National Association of Certified Credit Counselors (NACCC). To earn certification, you must pass a multiple-choice exam that covers basic counseling skills, budget analysis, and current information regarding credit and lending. You'll need to recertify every two years by meeting continuing education requirements.

Salary Information

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS, www.bls.gov), there were approximately 35,740 credit counselors employed across the nation as of May 2018. These counselors earned a mean wage of $49,820 per year. Counselors living in the District of Columbia, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, and Massachusetts earned the most money, averaging more than $57,000 a year in 2018, per the BLS.

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