What Do Bill and Account Collectors Do?


Bill and account collectors negotiate debt repayments.

Bill and account collectors try to recover payment on overdue bills. They negotiate repayment plans with debtors and help them find solutions to make paying their overdue bills easier.

Bill and Account Collector Duties

  • Find consumers and businesses who have overdue bills
  • Track down consumers who have an out-of-date address by using the Internet, post office, credit bureaus, or neighbors—a process called “skip tracing”
  • Inform debtors that they have an overdue bill and try to negotiate a payment
  • Explain the terms of sale or contract with the debtor, when necessary
  • Learn the reasons for the overdue bills, which can help with the negotiations
  • Offer credit advice or refer a consumer to a debt counselor, when appropriate

Possible Job Titles

  • Account Representative
  • Accounts Receivable Specialist (AR Specialist)
  • Collection Agent
  • Collection Specialist
  • Collector, Credit Clerk
  • Debt Collector
  • Patient Access Specialist
  • Patient Account Representative
  • Telephone Collector

Is Being a Bill Collector a Good Job?

If you are looking for challenging work that is goal-oriented and you have a thick skin, you may love the idea of helping companies recover losses.

You’ll have to use persuasion and people skills to convince people to pay up. If you don’t like conflict, skip this job.

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Conventional jobs mean following set procedures and routines. The occupations can include working with data and details more than with ideas. There is a clear line of authority. 

Enterprising occupations involve starting and carrying out projects. These jobs mean leading people and making decisions. 

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Top Work Styles for Success

  • Integrity — Bill and account collectors must be honest and ethical.
  • Attention to Detail — Being a bill and account collector requires being careful about detail and thorough in completing work tasks.
  • Dependability — You need to be reliable, responsible, and dependable, and fulfilling obligations.
  • Independence — You must be comfortable developing your own way of doing things, little or no supervision, and get your job done.
  • Cooperation — No matter what, you need to be pleasant with the people you interact with.

Work Values

  • Relationships — Bill and account collectors are allowed to provide service to others and work with co-workers in a friendly non-competitive environment.
  • Support — Bill and account collectors have supportive management that stands behind employees.
  • Achievement — Bill and account collectors are results-oriented and use their strongest abilities to accomplish their goals.

16 Personalities Results

ISTP

ISFPs personality types, based on the Myers-Briggs Indicator Test, would be a good fit for this profession. ISTPs take their work to heart and want to be in a job where they can express themselves.

They seek tangible results. Getting a payment from a reluctant payee would certainly satisfy a results-oriented drive.

While bill and account collections can be a thankless job, for someone who believes people should do the right thing and pay their debts, this line of work would be a good fit.

ISFPs want to lay low and get their work done. They also value their independence and the chance to make decisions on their own.

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Bill and Account Collectors Job Listings 

Bill and account collectors work to get the money you owe a company for services.

What is the Work of a Bill Collector?

Bill and account collectors generally contact debtors by phone, or mail to resolve a debt. They work to find a solution that the debtor and the creditor can agree on. Listening to the debtor and paying attention to his or her concerns can help the collector negotiate a solution.

They use computer systems to update contact information and record past collection attempts with a particular debtor.

Keeping these records can help collectors with future negotiations.

After the collector and debtor agree on a repayment plan, the collector regularly checks to ensure that the debtor pays on time.

If the debtor does not pay, the collector submits a statement to the creditor, who can take legal action. In extreme cases, this legal action may include taking back goods or disconnecting service.

They Must Follow the Law

Collectors must follow federal and state laws that govern debt collection. These laws require that collectors make sure they are talking with the debtor before announcing that the purpose of the call is to collect a debt.

A collector also must give a statement, called “mini-Miranda,” which informs the account holder that they are speaking with a bill or debt collector.

Collectors usually have goals they are expected to meet. Typically, these include calls per hour and success rates.

Where Bill Collectors Work

Bill and account collectors held about 235,870 jobs in 2019.

Many collectors work in a call center for a third-party collection agency rather than the original creditor. In all industries, they spend most of their time on the phone tracking down or negotiating with debtors.

They also use computers and databases to update information and record the results of their calls.

Collectors’ work can be stressful because some people become angry and confrontational when pressed about their debts.

Collectors often face resistance while trying to do their job duties. Successful collectors must face regular rejection and still be ready to make the next call in a polite and positive voice.

Fortunately, some consumers appreciate help in resolving their outstanding debts and can be quite grateful.

Work Schedules

Most bill and account collectors work full time. Some collectors work flexible schedules, often calling people on weekends or during the evenings as they learn the best times to call.

How to Become Bill and Account Collectors

Bill and account collectors need a high school diploma for an entry-level job.

Collectors usually must have a high school diploma. A few months of on-the-job training is common.

Education

Most bill and account collectors are required to have a high school diploma, although some employers prefer applicants who have taken some college courses.

Communications, accounting, and basic computer courses are examples of classes that are helpful for entering this occupation.

Training

Collectors usually receive on-the-job training after being hired. Training includes learning how to use computer software, and instruction on federal debt-collection laws (in the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act) and state debt-collection regulations.

Collectors also may be trained in negotiation techniques.

Soft Skills Bill Collectors Need

Listening Skills

Collectors must pay attention to what debtors say when trying to negotiate a repayment plan.

Learning the particular situation of the debtors and how they fell into debt can help collectors suggest solutions.

Negotiating Skills

The main aspects of a collector’s job are reconciling the differences between two parties (the debtor and the creditor) and offering a solution that is acceptable to both parties.

Speaking Skills

Collectors must be able to speak to debtors to explain their options and ensure that they fully understand what is being said.

How Much Does a Bill or Account Collector Make?

The median annual wage for bill and account collectors was $37,000 in May 2019.

The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $25,800, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $56,860 according to BLS.gov.

The average salary nationwide is $39,300.

2019 Bill Collector Salary by State (Median Wages)

State/Region#
Employed
Median
Salary
District of Columbia280$64,590
Alaska48049,160
Connecticut1,79047,140
Massachusetts4,28045,740
Rhode Island34043,840
California20,35042,960
North Dakota46042,800
Vermont32042,120
Hawaii55042,110
Maryland3,25042,060
Virginia7,15041,530
Colorado2,70040,620
Missouri5,06039,500
New Jersey5,07039,500
Oregon1,83039,100
New York14,57038,910
Washington2,86038,820
Maine56038,290
Illinois8,85038,240
Minnesota4,12038,080
Delaware1,01037,970
Wisconsin3,30037,910
Georgia8,78037,460
Pennsylvania8,32037,060
Michigan4,13037,030
Idaho1,48036,840
Wyoming21036,700
Indiana3,53035,930
Florida17,65035,880
North Carolina7,00035,870
Nevada2,22035,750
Texas29,61035,440
Iowa2,43035,430
Montana45035,420
New Mexico64035,290
Ohio9,89035,260
Nebraska1,69035,190
Arizona8,63035,090
New Hampshire1,17035,060
Utah4,31034,920
West Virginia74034,730
Kentucky3,05034,700
South Carolina6,53034,480
Tennessee6,44034,210
Oklahoma3,71034,030
Mississippi1,31033,870
Alabama2,63033,390
South Dakota2,31033,050
Louisiana1,96032,670
Kansas3,59032,570
Arkansas2,26030,950
Guam12025,970
Puerto Rico2,77021,840

Job Outlook is on the Decline

Most bill and account collectors work full time. Some collectors work flexible schedules, often calling people on weekends or during the evenings as they learn the best times to call.

The increasing efficiency of collectors is expected to reduce demand for this occupation.

New software and automated calling systems should increase productivity and allow collectors to handle more accounts. This will allow more collections work to be done with fewer employees.

Some collection jobs will likely be sent to other countries where wages are lower, as a way for firms to cut costs.

Although this will create some drag on employment of collectors, creditors should continue to hire some collectors in the United States.

Job Prospects

Workers frequently leave the occupation, which leads to numerous job openings. Therefore job prospects should be favorable, despite the projected decline in employment.

More Resources

For more information about bill and account collectors, visit

ACA International, the Association of Credit and Collections Professionals

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Tracey Lamphere

Tracey Lamphere, M.S. IMC is the editor of Job Affirmations, a publication that provides information and ideas to use mindfulness, positive affirmations, and visualizations to transform your career.

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