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Collections Officer Duties and Responsibilities

Collections officers are hired by many types of businesses that serve a large customer base and by collections agencies, but job duties do not vary much from company to company. Core responsibilities for collections officers include:

Make Calls to Clients Collections officers attempt to locate and contact clients, primarily over the phone, in order to talk with them about their debts. This includes calling customers at home, at work, and on their cellular phones.

Negotiate Payment Schedules Collections officers speak to customers to negotiate payment plans and payment schedules that suit their current financial situation while still satisfying the debt.

Advise Customers Collections officers advise customers on their various payment options. If no payment agreement can be reached, collections officers inform customers of further actions that may be taken to collect overdue debts.

Maintain Customer Files Collections officers keep customer files updated, recording times and dates that contact has been made and noting information that customers have received about their debt.

Prepare Statements Collections officers prepare statements to be given to credit departments and banks when customers fail to meet their payment agreements or when no payment agreement can be made.

Write Letters Collections officers write letters to customers to inform them of their debts. When customers fail to meet their payment obligations and fail to make payment agreements, collections officers write letters to credit agencies, insurance companies, lawyers, and customers' employers to collect debt without the customer's aid.

Answer Phones Collections officers answer incoming calls from customers and other individuals.


Collections Officer Skills and Qualifications

Collections officers have excellent communication and people skills and use persuasive techniques to collect overdue debts from customers. Companies that hire collections officers look for professionals with the following skills:
  • Communication skills - collections officers need both written and verbal communication skills to draft letters and speak clearly to clients about their payment options, employing persuasion and other tactics in order to collect debts on overdue accounts
  • Attention to detail- collections officers are detail-oriented professionals who take accurate and informative notes for client records and follow proper company procedures for debt collection
  • Data entry- because collections officers enter information into digital systems, some data entry ability is essential
  • Computer skills- collections officers work with multiple types of software programs, which requires good computer skills
  • Mathematics - because collections officers work with debts and finance, basic math skills are required

Collections Officer Education and Training

Collections officers need a high school diploma or equivalent. This is an entry-level position, so no further education or training is required. However, candidates who have past work experience in collections or some type of business training can stand out from competitors vying for the same job. Collections officers receive paid hands-on training under the supervision of a manager or team leader to become familiar with company protocols. Collections officers also receive scripts and written templates to follow to facilitate communication with customers. The training period is brief, typically one to two weeks.

Collections Officer Salary and Outlook

According to statistical data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, bill and account collectors (who perform the same duties as collections officers) earn a median pay of $35,350 annually and $17 hourly. Through the year 2026, jobs in this field are projected to decline by 3 percent. Full-time collections officers receive basic benefits packages that provide health insurance coverage. Some companies offer dental and vision insurance coverage as well. In addition to base salary, collections officers receive commission bonuses.

Helpful Resources

Find career opportunities, work strategies, and other helpful information for becoming a successful collections officer using these resources:

Debt Collection Simplified - use this straightforward debt collection guide to learn the basics of debt collection through real-world examples of common situations collections officers and similar professionals face The Association of Credit and Collection Professionals - find self-paced training guides, career networking opportunities, and collections industry events at the ACA website

Debt Collection Letters & Forms: How to Get Your Customers to Pay - this book provides ready-made letters and collections forms that use persuasive language to convince customers to pay their debts

National Association of Credit Management - NACM provides collections officers and other debt collections professionals with certification program information, learning center resources, collections news updates, webinars, and lots of other resources for learning tips and tricks to collect debts successfully

20 Tricks, Tips & Techniques to Successful Debt Collection - learn simple, straightforward strategies for debt collection in this book, which was written for collections officers and debt collection professionals of all types

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