Collections representatives work in a wide range of industries; in fact, just about anywhere a client can build credit, take out loans or be provided with a monthly service. The main function of a collection representative is to investigate or oversee payments and contact customers who are approaching a delinquent date or are overdue in making payment. If the customer indicates a willingness to make a payment, the collection representative will keep a record on when the customer plans to pay.
What the Job Entails
Sometimes the customer will indicate that the original plan is a little too difficult to follow through and will ask for an extended plan. In such cases, the collections representative might arrange a new plan to help the customer catch up on late payments and avoid late fees. A customer representative can take credit card payments over the phone after verifying account information.
Collection representatives must operate according to the required policies and procedures of the company or industry they are representing. When applicable, they may instruct their customers on how to receive invoices and pay their bills online. They manage all the outstanding balances for their clients and reconcile all invoices for accounts receivable.
It is desirable for a collections representative to have a sense of diplomacy, but a persistent and professional attitude. Although they are expected to be courteous and sympathetic, they must also take an assertive approach with a delinquent customer. Other skills required of a collections representative are a strong sense of organization, the ability to analyze data and flexibility. They must possess excellent written and oral communication skills and have a working knowledge of how to use the phone system and any computer software related to their job. Most collection representatives are also required to work well, both as an individual and as a member of the organization’s team.
Collection Agencies and Expected Skills
Because the industries that hire a collection representative as part of their team are so varied, there are no set guidelines for educational requirement, although nearly all companies prefer at least a high school diploma or GED. Some collection representatives receive certification through vocational school or community college, but it’s not always a standard requirement. The majority of industries will provide on-the-job training for learning the necessary skills, provided they demonstrate good work ethics.
Collection representatives earn an average of $27,000 to $43,000 a year. The difference in salary is largely dependent on the industry and the degree of experience. A senior collection representative may expect a salary of $35,000 to $48,500 a year. To qualify for a senior position, a collection representative must have a minimum of five years experience, make interpretations of legal guidelines related to loan collection policies, and train collections personnel.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that the demand for collection representatives will increase by 19% by the year 2018, which is faster than average growth for nearly all other occupations. In some industries, a commission is given to collection representatives based on the successful completion of the accounts they collect.