Number of Jobs
|This Job is Ranked in|
|Best Business Jobs||#11|
|The 100 Best Jobs||#57|
When you receive a call asking you to pay off past due credit card debt or medical bills, a bill collector is the person on the other end of the line. Bill and account collectors seek the payment of overdue bills. They listen to why debtors didn't pay their bill and try to help them eliminate the overdue expense by negotiating a repayment plan. "We want to figure out what is going on and figure out a common solution to help them settle their debt," says Nick Jarman, chief operating officer at Delta Outsource Group, Inc., a national debt collection company. "It's our job to talk with them to understand currently where they are, and then based on our clients, we might have the ability to offer a lower amount to settle their accounts or offer a long-term payment arrangement." Many bill collectors work in a call center for a collection agency, rather than the office of the original creditor.
There's likely to be an increasing number of job opportunities for collectors in medical industries as the cost of health care grows and an aging population incurs medical debt. When credit card companies sell their debts to third-party agencies, more bill collectors will be hired to retrieve payments. The high turnover among bill collectors also leads to a steady availability of job openings.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts employment growth of 14.7 percent for this profession between 2012 and 2022, leading to more than 58,200 new positions. A weak economy increases the amount of debt that needs to be collected because fewer people are able to pay their bills, but it also makes collecting those debts more difficult when consumers simply don't have the money to pay them. While this job can be outsourced to other countries, collectors in the United States tend to have greater success in getting debtors to pay off their bills.
Bill collectors earned a median salary of $32,480 in 2012, or $15.61 per hour, according to the BLS. The profession's highest-paid earned more than $48,640, while the lowest-paid earned less than $21,850 in 2012. Two cities in California compensate bill collectors especially well: San Francisco and San Jose.
Bill collectors usually need a high school diploma and call center experience to land a job. Some employers prefer applicants who have completed some college courses, especially in communications, accounting and basic computer skills. On-the-job training is common and generally includes instruction in the company's policies, the use of computer software and federal and state laws governing debt collection. Speaking and negotiation skills are essential to the profession and are often learned on the job. Additional education is often necessary to advance to a higher-paying position.
You need to be able to maintain a positive attitude and professional composure, even when faced with a debtor who becomes angry or confrontational. Most collectors experience regular rejection, and then they usually have to begin a new call and start all over again. Successful collectors listen to how consumers fell into debt and use that information to suggest repayment options. You'll need negotiating skills to find a solution that is acceptable to both the debtor and the creditor seeking repayment. Speaking skills are also important to communicate the problem and articulate possible solutions. "You have a responsibility not just to the client you are collecting for, but to the consumer to understand the situation they are in and what they can do that is feasible for them," Jarman says. "They are upset about the situation, and the quicker that you can calm them down, then the faster you can start to resolve the situation."
|Upward Mobility||poor Below Average|
|Stress Level||poor Above Average|
|Flexibility||good Above Average|
Last updated by Emily Brandon.