Debt Collector Job Description: Top Duties and Qualifications

Last updated: June 22, 2022

A Debt Collector, or Collection Specialist, work with customers to collect their outstanding debts to an organization. Their duties include organizing and keeping track of customer’s outstanding debt accounts, contacting debtors to learn more about their payment status and negotiating payments and payment plans with customers.

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Debt Collector duties and responsibilities

A Debt Collector may need to research information about debtors, including finding out details like new addresses and other contact information. They attempt to obtain payment and will often negotiate partial payments. Some other responsibilities of a Debt Collector include:

  • Manage multiple delinquent accounts for debt collection efforts.
  • Keep track of assigned accounts to identify outstanding debts.
  • Plan a course of action to recover outstanding payments.
  • Negotiate payoff deadlines or payment plans.
  • Handle questions or complaints.
  • Investigate and resolve discrepancies in payments or accounts.
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What does a Debt Collector do?

Debt Collectors work either for an organization or for debt collection agencies contacting people who owe money to an organization. They work closely with customers to communicate how much they owe the company, set a payment deadline and assist them with a payment plan to eventually resolve their debt. Many Debt Collectors are often in charge of investigating certain payment discrepancies and working to properly resolve them. They typically build trust and relationships with customers to help prevent future payment issues.

Debt Collector skills and qualifications

Debt Collectors need to be able to keep accurate records as they send out past due notices, keep track of address changes and other contact information and report missed payments to credit bureaus. They need to investigate and resolve any complaints, so they should have experience with research and be comfortable talking to a variety of people. Other important skills include:

  • Office and database software skills
  • Negotiation and conflict resolution skills
  • Speaking and listening skills
  • Multi-tasking and time management skills
  • Prioritization skills
  • Knowledge of relevant legal requirements 
  • Ability to work independently
  • Attention to detail

Debt Collector salary expectations

The average salary for a Debt Collector is $13.55 per hour.  Exact salary may vary depending on the applicant’s education, level of experience and geographical location. A Debt Collector typically stays in the position for around a year. 

Debt Collector education and training requirements

A high school diploma is often required to work as a Debt Collector. Many people in this position have prior experience in telemarketing or negotiated sales positions. Individuals who work well in customer service and have experience with sales often excel in the position of a Debt Collector. Debt Collectors occasionally assist with administrative work, so they should have experience in an office setting. 

Debt Collector experience requirements

Many companies prefer prior experience as a Debt Collector or at least some experience in a call center. Applicants should have experience in sales and be persistent. Proficiency in computer programs also boosts a resume for a Debt Collector. Debt Collectors serve as a resource and a subject matter expert and may provide training to other team members, so they should have experience with training others.

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Frequently asked questions about Debt Collectors


Who does a Debt Collector report to?

Most Debt Collectors work on a team who reports to the Collections Managers, who oversee the entire collections department. They supervise the team of Debt Collectors and handle big picture items to ensure the company is running efficiently. 

Collection Managers make sure their team is handling customer issues properly and resolve any customer complaints they about the Debt Collectors’ work performance. If a customer is being difficult on the phone, the Collections Manager takes over and resolves the issue. Collection Managers also decide if a Debt Collector can provide a customer with a discount or special offer.


What makes a great Debt Collector?

Great Debt Collectors must have positive and friendly attitudes to handle customers who are overwhelmed or stressed out about their financial situations. They should also be able to handle high-pressure situations and be empathetic to help calm down disgruntled customers. 

Effective Debt Collectors must have great negotiation skills to work out payment plans and deadline dates that are convenient to the customer and get the overdue payment to the organization as soon as possible. They’re regularly sorting and filing different collection records, so organizational skills are important for ideal candidates. 


Do Debt Collectors have different responsibilities in different industries?

Debt Collectors usually work in collections agencies or for specific organizations sharing similar duties. They’re often expected to have knowledge of the specific organization they’re collecting debt for to help them better understand the customer’s issue and to provide them personalized advice. Many Debt Collectors work for organizations like hospitals, mortgage debt agencies and student loan debt agencies. 


What's the difference between a Debt Collector and a Debt Buyer?

Debt Collectors are third-party companies that collect money for other companies. Some Debt Collectors work directly for the specific organization they’re collecting payments for. Debt Buyers often purchase debt from a company and then come to collect the debt originally owed to that company. 

Debt Buyers often contact customers and inform them that the payments are now due to them and will work with customers to arrange payment plans or to negotiate payment schedules. Debt Buyers are usually higher, senior level roles, while Debt Collectors are often entry-level positions.

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