Nowadays it’s hard to be good with money, especially with the banks offering credit cards and overdrafts.
But if your good decision making means you're always smugly advising your cash-strapped friends on where they’re going wrong, maybe it’s time to consider a career as a credit controller.
So, what will I actually be doing?
You’ll be deciding whether to loan money to a creditor as well as managing the debts of existing creditors.
You can work either in commercial credit (loaning to businesses) or consumer credit (loaning to the public).
Most businesses and organisations – from banks to charities – need credit control. Whatever kind of organisation you choose to work in you’ll be performing the following tasks:
- Checking customer's credit ratings with banks
- Deciding whether or not to offer the credit (can be the tricky part)
- Setting up the terms and conditions of the loan
- Dealing with internal queries about payments
- Ensuring customers pay on time
- Negotiating re-payment plans
It will also be your responsibility to review debt recovery procedures and stop the supply of goods and services - or even start the serious process of legal action - if a client has paid late or missed multiple payments. It’s not the nicest part of the job, but someone’s got to do it.
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The finer details...
This is primarily an office-based role where you’ll be expected to work 9-5, Monday to Friday with some overtime at busy periods such as the end of the year.
You may be required to attend meetings with clients or occasionally court hearings if you’re taking legal action against a client.
If you enjoy the job, there’s plenty of room to progress. From credit control clerk you can hop to supervisor, team leader and then up to manager. The beauty of this role is that credit control principles are the same whatever industry you work in and you can move into different sectors. With enough experience you could even become a consultant and spread your wisdom to others.
Good news for those looking for a flexible job; part-time roles are often available.
Money, money, money
The starting salary for a credit controller can range between £16k and £25k per year but this can rise to £50k plus if you move up the ladder to become a credit control manager.
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The good points...
"I love the interaction with different customers and the wide range of different sectors of business that I could enter into. I also find it enjoyable to solve problems and negotiate settlements," says Maddison.
...and the bad
"Having to enforce sanctions and working with customers falling into liquidation. I find it helpful to gain the trust of the customer and talk informally as people tend to take chasing money personally and become offended. On the other hand, some customers prefer staying formal and professional so you have to work on this."
Is there study involved?
If university was never your thing, don’t worry, there are no minimum qualifications to become a credit controller, but many employers will look for a good standard of education (at least five GCSEs, grades A-C) while a BTEC or HND in business or finance will give you a good head start in this career.
If you’ve started out as a junior credit controller then you can give your career a boost by studying for a diploma from the Institute of Credit Management.
If you haven’t got time to study full-time, or want to learn at your own pace, you can also study for the diploma part-time or by distance learning. There are three levels:
- Level 2 Diploma in Credit Management
- ICM Level 3 Diploma in Credit Management
- ICM Level 5 Diploma in Credit Management
If you’re good at number crunching and you’re more interested in pursuing a career in accounting you could also consider enrolling with the Association of Accounting Technicians to take their Level 1 qualification (roughly equivalent to GCSE grades A-C), which includes training in:
- Double entry book keeping
- Basic costing principles
- Purchase, sales and general ledgers
All of which is handy in a credit controller job too.
Need additional qualifications? Find a course at our Learning Zone
OK, I'm interested... But is it really the job for me?
You need to be confident, organised and have good business judgement to work in credit control as deciding whether to give people money can be a tough call.
"You need to be analytical, fair, thorough, open-minded, friendly and not easily upset," says credit controller Maddison Grant.
You’ll also need to have enough confidence to deal with uncomfortable situations that may arise with clients who owe money. Other skills that will help you in this career include:
- The ability to work in a team as well as individually
- Sound decision making
- Excellent written and verbal communication skills
- Good attention to detail
- The ability to work under pressure and to deadlines
- Good IT skills