As consumer debt rises, so does the demand for persuasive, telephone-savvy workers. Collection agencies are seeking professionals who can...

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As consumer debt rises, so does the demand for persuasive, telephone-savvy workers.

Collection agencies are seeking professionals who can call and collect past-due loans, credit-card charges, utility bills and accounts.

While being a debt collector may sound tedious, it can be a rewarding profession financially and professionally for those with the right skills and competitive drive.

“No one ever says, ‘I want to grow up and be a bill collector,’ ” said Harry Strausser III, president of ACA International — the Association of Credit and Collection Professionals. “People just find out they are good at it.”

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Recruiters say that jobs are opening up with third-party collection agencies, hospitals and even the Internal Revenue Service.

Government agencies also are making more use of collectors on everything from parking tickets to child-support payments and past-due taxes.

“There’s no doubt that the increasing amount of debt has made for more work,” said Kit Ladwig, editor of Collections & Credit Risk, a trade publication for the collections industry. “The debt-buying industry is also growing.”

Experts say the entry-level job of collector does not require a formal education; however, most agencies require a minimum of a high-school education.

It’s also helpful to have part-time training or an internship at a bank or credit bureau.

Candidates seeking managerial positions typically have a college education, they say.

Experts also say the job is good for single parents and college students because it allows for flexible schedules. Most agencies provide on-the-job training for new employees.

Because they track down and call customers whose accounts are delinquent and try to get the bill paid, collectors need to be good negotiators and have great communication skills.

It’s important to be organized and computer-savvy because agencies use automated systems.

It’s also necessary to know federal and state laws that govern the industry. Collectors usually receive a base salary plus commission.