Money still isn’t growing on trees, so it’s no great surprise to see more people taking out credit cards, applying for loans and extending every overdraft.
A collections associate ensures payments are made, and chases up any that become overdue. It’s a difficult job but someone’s got to do it, will it be you?
So, what will I actually be doing?
Banks and other businesses that dish out money are very busy people, so collections associates (also called collections agents), are hired to make sure payments are made, and to ensure any overdue debts are eventually paid.
Dealing with both individuals and businesses (hey, even companies can be overdue with their bills), your daily duties will change depending on who you’re dealing with and the action (if any) that needs to be taken. Your responsibilities include:
- Sorting out payment plans
- Recording payments that are made
- Organising customer files (every job has paperwork and admin)
- Chasing debtors and late payments
- Tracing debtors who move without telling the company (with the help of credit bureaus, telephone providers and even the post office)
Because you’re collecting money for someone else, you may be wondering who your boss will be. Often you’ll be helping a third party collection agency, working on behalf of either a business (known as commercial collection) or individuals (consumer collection).
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The nitty gritty
This job is perfect whether you’re looking for regular full-time hours, a part-time job or flexible shift work as all are available.
If you choose the shift work option, expect to be working evenings and weekends as these hours are often used to contact people who may be unavailable during the day because of work commitments.
Although it can be trickier, it’s also possible to be self-employed or work on a freelance basis.
Because your duties are mostly done over the phone, you’ll often be based in an office or call centre environment, although you may occasionally leave the office to visit clients.
Money, money, money
As with any job, your salary will change depending on your role, your company and how long you’ve been there.
When you first start out, a junior role can be paid between £12,000 and £15,000 a year. This rises to around £16,000 and £22,000 once you’ve got some more experience.
Reach management level, and as well as being in charge of your own team, you can earn around £20,000 and £30,000 a year.
These salaries don’t include bonuses and additional commissions that some employers will offer.
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The good points...
This isn’t a heart-less job that’s all about money money and more money, first and foremost you’re trying to get people out of debt. By offering payment plans that fit with their circumstances, your job actually involves helping others.
Although not everyone will see it that way, which leads us to the downsides of the job…
...and the bad
This can be a stressful job, and the hardest thing can be when people can’t pay their debts at all, because when this happens, it’s your job to follow the law (and court procedures) to get the money. This can involve working with solicitors and even bailiffs, so expect tears, tantrums and a lot of swear words.
If you’re quite a sensitive person and don’t like confrontation, this job really isn’t for you.
Is there study involved?
You don’t need to have gone to university to do this job as there aren’t any particular qualifications that employers look for.
If you’re looking to impress though, a GCSE in maths, and qualifications or experience in book-keeping or accounting will make a good first impression on employers.
When it comes to training, you’ll learn most of it on the job. Although some employers will send you on courses to make sure you’re fully prepared before you start. Courses you may get sent on may specialise in:
- Telephone techniques
- Credit law
Want to study before you start applying for collections associate jobs? You can take qualifications from the Credit Services Association (CSA) or the Institute of Credit Management (ICM) which are not only good to have on the CV, but can also help you progress to more senior levels in the future.
Helpful qualifications include:
- CSA/City & Guilds Diploma in Debt Collection
- ICM Level 3 Certificate in Credit Management - an introductory course
- ICM Level 5 Diploma in Credit Management - a more advanced course that includes legal proceedings and insolvency
- ICM Foundation Degree in Credit Management
Need additional qualifications? Find a course at our Learning Zone
OK, I'm interested... But is it really the job for me?
If you’ve got the temper of the Hulk and a zero amount of patience, this job really isn’t for you.If people can’t pay their debts, you’re going to need to be tactful and calm, after all, shouting and hollering at them isn’t going to get the money any sooner.
Although you need to be calm to be a collector, you can’t be a doormat in this job either. People will come up with thousands of excuses as to why they haven’t paid (which can be anything from “I genuinely have no money” to “my cat ate the payment notice you sent), and you need to be assertive to ensure payments are made.
In this job you’ll always be dealing with people (whether it’s face-to-face or over the phone) so you’ve also got to have good communication skills, as not only do you have to explain how much they owe, but also give them their options if they can’t…certainly not a perk of the job that one.
Because you’ll be frequently talking to people, experience in customer service always helps.
Other handy skills include:
- Being organised
- Ability to work to deadlines
- Good negotiator
Maths skills (if you’re going to work with money, you’ve got to be good with numbers)
- Admin skills
- Computer skills