According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, becoming a debt collector usually requires a high school diploma and a few months of on-the-job training. However, some employers prefer applicants to have taken some college courses to prepare for the job. The BLS lists accounting, communication and basic computer courses as the most helpful to aspiring debt collectors.
After being hired as a debt collector, 1 to 3 months of on-the-job training is common, according to the BLS. This might include learning state debt collection laws and laws set by the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. It can also include learning about the particular employer’s policies, expectations and software.
According to the BLS, debt collectors must have good listening, negotiating and speaking skills. Negotiating repayment plans is a big part of the job, and listening to the specifics of a debtor’s situation can help collectors come up with a solution that works for both parties. Debt collectors must also be able to speak clearly to explain options and solutions in a way that debtors can fully understand.
The BLS reports that debt collection jobs are expected to grow by 15 percent between 2012 and 2022, which is faster than the average for all jobs. This is due in part to the rise in health care costs and the increasing number of credit card companies selling their debts to collection agencies. As of May 2012, the median annual salary for this occupation was $32,480.