How to Become a

Collections Agent

The complete career guide to be a Collections Agent: salary, job growth, employers, best schools, and education you may need to get started.

Why We Love It

  • $36,600
    Potential Avg. Salary
  • -5.6%
    Job Growth Rate
  • Deal Making
    Career Attribute
  • Good Commission Income
    Career Attribute

Collections agents make a living by recovering money owed on debts. They work to track down accurate contact information for debtors and then work with debtors to formulate reasonable repayment plans. They are often paid on commissions based on the amount of money collected on overdue debts.

Recommended Schools

What is a Collections Agent?

The following job responsibilities are common for individuals in collections agent roles:

  • Employ a process called skip-tracking to collect current contact information for debtors
  • Send notices through the mail and make phone calls to attempt contact with debtors
  • Read debtors a mini-Miranda to announce that the call is related to a collection
  • Listen to a debtor’s concerns to formulate a plan for repayment that is in the best interest of both the creditor and debtor
  • Refer debtors to debt relief counseling services when appropriate

A Day in the Life

Collections agents work for collections agencies that are hired to collect debts on behalf of creditors. For example, a major credit care provider like Capital One may send overdue, closed credit accounts to a collections agency. The collections agency employs collections agents who work to recover the money owed on debts—in this case on behalf of Capital One. Both the collections agency and collections agent earn commissions off of the amount of money collected on Capital One’s behalf.

To earn a commission, collections agents must do a lot of research and negotiation. Many people avoid collections calls, so the collections agent must be creative in finding up to date contact information for debtors. They use a process called skip-tracking to uncover updated contact information for debtors—pulling address and phone number information from credit reports, neighbors and relatives, and through internet searches. They then make calls and send letters in an attempt to collect the debt.

When the collections agent gets a debtor on the phone, he/she must read a mini-Miranda to inform the debtor that the call is related to collections. Then, the collections agent must listen to the debtor’s concerns and budgeting issues to propose a reasonable repayment plan. The collections agent may propose monthly payments in amounts the debtor can afford, or a lump-sum payment for an amount that’s less than what’s owed overall. If the collections agent succeeds in recovering payment, he/she may earn a commission on the recovered amount.

Typical Work Schedule

Collections agent roles are typically full-time positions, but they may work irregular shifts. Often, debtors are only available on nights and weekends, so collections agents may need to work outside of normal business hours to recover debts and earn commissions.

Typical Employers

The majority of collections agents are employed by collections agencies. However, some may work directly for creditors—credit card companies, healthcare facilities, or banks—collecting money owed on behalf of their employers.

Recommended Schools

How To Become a Collections Agent

In general, a high school diploma is a sufficient level of education for securing work as a collections agent. Most collections agents are trained on the job to perform their roles, so a college education isn’t usually required. However, aspiring collections agents who lack math skills, computer skills, or negotiation skills may be able to improve their chances of success in the field by taking courses at a community college or trade/vocational school.

Introductory coursework in computers, basic algebra, public speaking, and communications can teach students skills that will be vital to their success—and their commissions income—once they’re hired to work as collections agents. Collections agents must be effective negotiators, strong communicators, and adept researchers to find debtors and convince them to pay owed amounts. They must also have strong math skills in order to propose repayment plans that ensure debts are paid in full.

Experience working in customer service or a call center is also good experience for aspiring collections agents, as most of the work you will do will be over the phone. With professional experience operating multi-line phone systems and handling phone calls, you may have an edge over other applicants when applying for open collections agent roles.

Collections Agent Salary Data

We’ve provided you the following to learn more about this career. The salary and growth data on this page comes from recently published Bureau of Labor Statistics data while the recommendations and editorial content are based on our research.

National Anual Salary

Low Range




High Range


National Hourly Wage

Low Range




High Range


How do Collections Agent salaries stack up to other jobs across the country? Based on the latest jobs data nationwide, Collections Agent's can make an average annual salary of $36,600, or $18 per hour. This makes it an Above Average Salary. On the lower end, they can make $27,730 or $13 per hour, perhaps when just starting out or based on the state you live in.

Salary Rankings And Facts

  • #595 Nationally for All Careers

Highest Education Among Collections Agents

  • 0.3%   Doctorate
  • 2.6%   Masters
  • 14.9%   Bachelors
  • 12%   Associates
  • 38.2%   College
  • 28.3%   High School
  • 3.7%   Less than High School

Job Growth Projections and Forecast

2014 Total Jobs


2024 Est. Jobs


Job Growth Rate


Est. New Jobs


How does Collections Agent job growth stack up to other jobs across the country? By 2024, there will be a change of -19,500 jobs for a total of 330,900 people employed in the career nationwide. This is a -5.6% change in growth over the next ten years, giving the career a growth rate nationwide of Below Average.

Growth Rankings And Facts

  • #707 Nationally for All Careers

What Companies Employ The Most Collections Agents

Industry Current Jobs New Jobs Needed % Increase
Depository credit intermediation 21,000 -2,000 -2%
Offices of physicians 20,200 2,100 2%
Other nondepository credit intermediation, including real estate credit and consumer lending 18,400 -400 0%

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