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Debt collector

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Summary of occupation

Debt collectors assist businesses and individuals to collect money they are owed by debtors from overdue accounts, unpaid loans or other debts. They contact the debtor by phone, mail or in person, advising them of the debt and arranging for payments to be made. When they are unable to collect payments they may suggest legal action be taken by their client, in which case the debt collector may prepare summonses and statements of claim for filing at court. In some cases these workers may be required to locate debtors who have changed addresses or are actively attempting to avoid the debt collector.

ANZSCO description: Collects consumer, commercial, insurance and other forms of debt for clients, makes arrangements to settle overdue accounts, formalises payment arrangements and follows up until accounts are fully paid. Registration or licensing may be required.
Alternative names: Collections Officer, Debt Recovery Officer, Mercantile Agent (Aus)
Specialisations: Collection Agent, Collection Officer, Repossession Agent
Job prospects: Limited
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Knowledge, skills and attributes

A debt collector needs:

  • good communication and negotiation skills
  • good interpersonal skills
  • maturity, honesty, integrity and a strong sense of ethics
  • the ability to remain calm in stressful situations
  • patience and understanding
  • to be persuasive, persistent and firm.
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Working conditions

Debt collectors often work in offices or call centres, and may have to go to debtors’ homes or workplaces. In some cases they may also be required to appear in court. Debt collectors have a high level of contact with people who are upset, angry or stressed, and they must be able to maintain their own composure while attempting to resolve the debt to the satisfaction of both the debtor and the client. The hours of work are often irregular and may include working evenings and on weekends, so that debtors can be contacted at their homes. This work can involve a high level of travel, which can be locally based or throughout the country. Some debt collectors may also liaise with international agencies in cases where the debtor has either fled a country. Debt collectors can find work throughout all regions of Western Australia.

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Salary details

On average, debt collectors can expect to earn between $1 000 and $1 249 per week, ($52 000 and $64 999 per year), depending on the organisation they work for, and their level of experience. As a debt collector develops their skills, their earning potential will generally increase.

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Tools and technologies

Debt collectors use standard office equipment such as telephones, computers and fax machines. They will also need a driver’s licence to travel to debtors' homes or workplaces. Debt collectors need to be familiar with all of the strict legislation governing their behaviour and powers in pursuing an unpaid debt.

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Education and training/entrance requirements

You can work as a debt collector without any formal qualifications; however, you must obtain a Debt Collectors Licence from the Commissioner of Consumer Protection at the Department of Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety Western Australia. You must be at least 21 years of age to apply for a licence. 

Related courses

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Apprenticeships and traineeships

As an apprentice or trainee, you enter into a formal training contract with an employer. You spend most of your time working and learning practical skills on the job and you spend some time undertaking structured training with a registered training provider of your choice. They will assess your skills and when you are competent in all areas, you will be awarded a nationally recognised qualification.

If you are still at school you can access an apprenticeship through your school. You generally start your school based apprenticeship by attending school three days a week, spending one day at a registered training organisation and one day at work. Talk to your school's VET Co-ordinator to start your training now through VET in Schools. If you get a full-time apprenticeship you can apply to leave school before reaching the school leaving age.

If you are no longer at school you can apply for an apprenticeship or traineeship and get paid while you learn and work.

Related apprenticeships

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Recognition of prior learning

If you think you already have some of the skills or competencies, obtained either through non-formal or informal learning, you may be able to gain credit through recognition of prior learning.

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