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How to become a Debt Collector

debt collector careers

What does a Debt Collector do?

Debt collectors, credit controllers or collection agents, are responsible for the recovery of bad debts or late payments. They may work with consumer or business clients, trace missing debtors or administer legal collection procedures. They initially make contact with the debtor by phone or letter to highlight the arrears, and negotiate a settlement through an agreed payment plan.

Credit controllers usually work in the credit control department of a business, chasing late payments from the company's suppliers and customers. Debt collectors or collection agents usually work with third party collection agencies, and may need to make field visits to debtors' homes to collect consumer debt from individuals.

Debt may be recovered through legal proceedings. During proceedings, a debt collector's role is to service court orders and follow a legal framework. They may work with solicitors and bailiffs, where appropriate.

What's the working environment like working as a Debt Collector?

Debt collectors often work shifts and weekends to contact debtors who are working during the day. Part-time work is common.

Much of the work is based in offices or call centres, contacting people by phone or mail. Field collectors usually work from home, visiting customers at their home or business premises. A driving licence is needed for field collection work.

What does it take to become a Debt Collector?

To be a debt collector, you should:

  • have good verbal and written communication skills
  • have an assertive but tactful approach
  • be able to stay calm under pressure and work to strict deadlines
  • have strong negotiation skills and the ability to explain financial matters firmly and clearly
  • be numerate to explain payments, financial terms and credit services
  • be able to understand relevant legislation and court procedures
  • have good administration and IT skills.

Debt Collector Career Opportunities

There are approximately 20,000 people employed in debt collection, and there are prospects for promotion into a supervisory or management post. Some move into credit management work on a broader scale.

Many debt collectors, particularly field collectors, are self-employed or work freelance. Some debt collection managers may develop their own debt collection businesses. See CSA website for information on how to set up a debt collection agency.

Debt collectors may move into sales, credit control and bailiff work. Contact the Financial Services Skills Council for information about careers within the financial sector.

Further information

If you would like to know anything about Debt Collector that does not appear on Hotcourses, further information can be found below.

Financial Services Skills Council (FSSC)
51 Gresham Street
Tel: 020 7216 7366

Credit Services Association
Wingrove House
2nd Floor East
Ponteland Road
Newcastle upon Tyne
Tel: 0191 286 5656

Institute of Credit Management
The Water Mill
Station Road
South Luffenham
LE15 8NB
Tel: 01780 722900

Courses to help you become a Debt Collector