How to Become a Collector


Do you enjoy having clear rules and methods for your work? Are you able to speak to angry people on the phone and keep a positive attitude? If so, a career as a collector is worth considering. Here's a quick summary of what working in this field can offer:


• Opportunity to speak to people on the phone for a good part of the day

• Office-based work with decent pay

• Great opportunity for career advancement


If you want to know more about the ins and outs of this career, then read on; we’ll fill you in on the details, including an overview of what your work might involves, how much it might pay, and what you'll need to succeed!



Education Needed to Become a Collector

In general, you need to have at least a high school diploma to become a collector. Some employers however, may require that you have completed a college/university diploma or degree, or at least some coursework.


Communication, accounting, business administration and basic computer courses are examples of subject matter that are helpful for entering, and succeeding in this occupation.





General Job Description for Collectors

Your job description as a collector may vary, but in general, you would be responsible for locating and notifying customers of delinquent accounts by mail, e-mail telephone or in person with the intention of soliciting payment. That's really the nuts and bolts of it. 



Typical Duties of the Job

As a collector, you could expect to perform the following duties:


• Receive payment and post to a customer’s account

• Prepare account statements for credit bureau if necessary

• Keep records of all correspondence with the customer, including collection efforts, payment arrangements and current account status

• Negotiate credit extensions when appropriate

• Trace delinquent customers to newest address that may require an inquiry at the post office, telephoning previous employers or asking former neighbours



Career Advancement Possibilities

If you demonstrate competence in your work and a great work ethic, you will likely have the opportunity to move into a supervisory or management position. With enough experience, and continuing education, you may have the opportunity to further advance your career, by moving into executive management with your organization. 



Skills Needed to Be Effective in This Career

Those who are successful as collectors typically have the following skills and abilities:


• The ability to follow instructions and pay attention to details

• The ability to negotiate with people courteously and effectively in difficult situations

• Able to work with numbers, and comfortable with basic arithmetic

• Able to multitask, while prioritizing work

• Good organizational skills

• Proficient in the use of spreadsheet software, such as Microsoft Excel

• Familiar with different types of accounting software





Traits of Successful Collectors

To enjoy the work of a collector, you need to have certain personal traits, as well as interests, including:


• A high degree of motivation, initiative and perseverance

• The ability to work under stressful conditions, meet deadlines and not be offended by insults

• Able to face regular rejection and still be ready to make the next call in a polite and positive voice

• Enjoy having clear rules and methods guiding your work

• Enjoy speaking with people in person or on the phone

• Enjoy finding innovative ways to locate debtors and recover liabilities



Who Employs Collectors?

Collectors can be employed on a part-time or full-time basis by organizations in virtually every type of industry. Larger organizations may employ in-house collectors, whereas smaller organizations may contract 3rd party collection agencies to do collection work.



Examples of possible employers:


• Banks, credit card companies and other lending institutions

• Educational institutions

• Hospitals and health care institutions, including dental offices

• Collection agencies

• Transportation and logistics companies

• Retail and wholesale companies

• Engineering, architectural and construction firms and companies

• Government agencies (at all levels)

• Law firms

• Manufacturing and distribution companies



Salary Levels Typical to This Profession

The salary level you might earn as a collector can vary, due to the following factors:


• Your level of education

• Your level of experience

• Your specific level of responsibility

• The size and type of your employer

• The region in which you work


Collector Salary - Canada (Alberta only): According to the 2017 Alberta Wage and Salary Survey, Albertans working in the Collectors occupational group earn an average wage of $15.35 per hour. Unfortunately, there were no statistics available from reputable sources for the rest of Canada.


Collector Salary - United States: According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median salary level of American workers in the Bill and Account Collectors occupational group is $33,700 per year. 



Actual Job Postings

Our job board below has "Collector" postings in Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom and Australia.


Collector Career: Work Environment

Work Setting: As a collector, most of your time would be spent in an office, on the phone tracking down or negotiating with debtors. You would also spend a good deal of time on the computer, updating information and recording the results of your calls. You would likely not be required to travel for work, aside from your commute.


Working Hours: Most likely, you would work normal, weekday working hours, although you could work a flexible schedule that includes evenings and weekends, as this is the best time to reach many people. 


Working Conditions: Your work as a collector would be stressful at times, especially when facing resistance from debtors; many people become angry and confrontational when pressed about their debts. Some debtors may appreciate help in resolving their outstanding debts and can be quite grateful that you’ve gotten in contact with them.



Similar Careers in Our Database

Listed below are occupations in our database that are similar in nature to 'collector':


Account Manager

Accounting Clerk


Credit Counselor


Loan Officer




Please consult the following resources to learn more about the various aspects of a career as a collector.


Occupations in Alberta:Collection Agent.” (March 31, 2017). ALIS website - Alberta Learning Information Service. Retrieved November 6, 2019.

Office & Administrative Support:Bill and Account Collectors.” (September 4, 2019). Occupational Outlook Handbook - United States Bureau of Labor Statistics website. Retrieved November 6, 2019.



Scholarships for Becoming a Collector

The 'Relevant Fields of Study' section below shows university and college majors that are useful for this profession. You can search for scholarships matched to those fields of study on our All Scholarships by Major page.


Success Tip: Be sure to apply for any scholarships that you even barely qualify for, as there are millions of dollars of scholarships that go unused every year due to a lack of applicants!



Relevant Fields of Study

Studying one of the university majors listed below can be helpful for becoming a collector. Click on the links to find out what else you can do with these majors!


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