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Bill and Account Collectors

At a Glance

  • Keep detailed records
  • Regularly interact with customers
  • Often track down customers who have moved
  • May work nights and weekends
  • Most train on the job
  • Often are paid through commissions or bonuses

Career summary

Bill and account collectors locate and seek payment from people, called debtors, who have overdue bills.

Bill and account collectors may also be called collections specialists, collection representatives, skip tracers, loan loss recovery collectors, or bill or debt collectors.

Bill and account collectors contact debtors to inform them of the overdue amount. If necessary, they go over the terms of the sale, service, or credit contract with the customers. Collectors try to learn why the payment is late. When debtors are unemployed or have other debts, collectors may provide credit counseling. In addition, they try to work out payment plans with debtors.

When customers agree to pay, collectors note this in the records and check that the payments are made. If customers do not pay, collectors may turn the account over to a lawyer. Sometimes collectors have the debtors’ services disconnected or belongings repossessed if payments are not made.

Collectors often need to locate debtors who moved and do not leave a new address. They check with the post office, telephone companies, credit bureaus, or former neighbors to obtain a debtor's new address. This process is called skip tracing. Once they find debtors, collectors update their addresses in the database or file, and contact them.

Many collectors handle administrative tasks for their accounts. For example, they keep records of their contacts with debtors. Some fill out daily reports of their actions. In some companies, collectors receive the payments and post them to the accounts.

Related careers

This career is part of the Finance cluster of careers.

Related careers include:

Job duties

Task list

The following list of tasks is specific to bill and account collectors.

Common work activities

Bill and account collectors perform the following tasks. These tasks are common to many careers.

Work requirements

Working conditions

In a typical work setting, bill and account collectors:

Interpersonal relationships

Physical work conditions

Work performance


Physical demands

Bill and account collectors frequently:

It is important for bill and account collectors to be able to:

It is not as important, but still necessary, for bill and account collectors to be able to:

Skills and abilities

Bill and account collectors need to:


Reason and problem solve

Manage oneself, people, time, and things

Work with people

Education and training

Educational programs

The programs of study listed below will help you prepare for the occupation or career cluster you are exploring.

Programs of study to consider


To work as a bill or account collector, you typically need to:

Education after high school

No formal education is required beyond high school. However, college course work is helpful if you wish to advance to management.

Knowledge of a language other than English can be helpful. This is because you will contact people who do not speak English as their primary language.

On-the-job training

The length of training varies by the employer and industry. In general, bill and account collectors receive up to one month of on-the-job training. Some receive up to one year of training.

Training may include lectures, videotapes, role-playing, and hands-on experience. You learn about skip tracing and the firm's billing procedures. You also learn communication and negotiating skills. You may also become certified as a Professional Telephone Collector and study the Federal Fair Debt Collection Act. Finally, you learn to use the firm's computer and telephone systems.

Helpful high school courses

You should take a general high school curriculum that meets the state's graduation requirements. You will be required to take both math and science classes to graduate.

Helpful electives to take in high school that prepare you for this career include:

The courses listed above are meant to help you create your high school plan. If you have not already done so, talk to a school counselor or parent about the courses you are considering taking.

You should also check with a teacher or counselor to see if work-based learning opportunities are available in your school and community. These might include field trips, job shadowing, internships, and actual work experience. The goal of these activities is to help you connect your school experiences with real-life work.

Join some groups, try some hobbies, or volunteer with an organization that interests you. By participating in activities you can have fun, make new friends, and learn about yourself. Maybe one of them will help direct you to a future career. Here are examples of activities and groups that may be available in your high school or community.

Things to know

Applicants for bill and account collector positions do not need previous experience in this area. However, experience in a bank, credit bureau, or credit department of a business is useful. In addition, experience dealing with people in difficult situations is helpful.


Course work in psychology may prove useful. Knowledge of the city or geographic area is helpful, especially when trying to locate people. Previous experience as a retail sales clerk or telemarketer can be helpful, and sharpening your math, English, computer, and ten-key skills is also recommended. Basic business courses are helpful for advancement.

Costs to workers

Workers may wish to join a professional association, which may have annual dues.

Job listings

Listed below are links to job categories from the National Labor Exchange that relate to this career. Once you get a list of jobs, you can view information about individual jobs and find out how to apply. If your job search finds too many openings, or if you wish to search for jobs outside of Washington, you will need to refine your search.

To get a listing of current jobs from the WorkSource system, go to the WorkSource website (external link).


#In Washington, the average entry-level wage for bill and account collectors is $12.94 per hour ($2,242 per month).

#Updated ES wage info 07.16 sd

Bill and account collectors (SOC 43-3011)

Pay Period
Washington Hourly $12.88 $15.09 $18.19 $22.33 $28.28
Monthly $2,232 $2,615 $3,152 $3,870 $4,901
Yearly $26,790 $31,390 $37,830 $46,450 $58,830
    Bellingham Hourly $14.63 $16.60 $18.86 $22.83 $26.97
Monthly $2,535 $2,877 $3,268 $3,956 $4,674
Yearly $30,431 $34,533 $39,215 $47,491 $56,095
    Clarkston-Lewiston Hourly (1) (1) (1) (1) (1)
Monthly (1) (1) (1) (1) (1)
Yearly (1) (1) (1) (1) (1)
    Kennewick-Richland Hourly $12.42 $14.70 $18.90 $22.36 $29.58
Monthly $2,152 $2,548 $3,275 $3,875 $5,126
Yearly $25,840 $30,572 $39,317 $46,509 $61,534
    Mount Vernon-Anacortes Hourly $17.01 $18.28 $20.35 $34.23 $38.81
Monthly $2,948 $3,168 $3,527 $5,932 $6,726
Yearly $35,398 $38,039 $42,325 $71,205 $80,734
    Olympia-Tumwater Hourly $14.38 $16.05 $18.97 $21.28 $25.43
Monthly $2,492 $2,781 $3,288 $3,688 $4,407
Yearly $29,902 $33,376 $39,450 $44,266 $52,890
    Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue Hourly $13.27 $15.58 $18.88 $23.42 $29.34
Monthly $2,300 $2,700 $3,272 $4,059 $5,085
Yearly $27,612 $32,397 $39,263 $48,707 $61,018
    Spokane-Spokane Valley Hourly $12.61 $13.96 $16.57 $19.17 $22.81
Monthly $2,185 $2,419 $2,872 $3,322 $3,953
Yearly $26,220 $29,046 $34,468 $39,894 $47,457
    Vancouver Hourly $14.10 $16.52 $19.05 $22.71 $26.53
Monthly $2,444 $2,863 $3,301 $3,936 $4,598
Yearly $29,346 $34,371 $39,620 $47,227 $55,190
    Walla Walla Hourly $14.06 $15.72 $18.68 $22.86 $25.44
Monthly $2,437 $2,724 $3,237 $3,962 $4,409
Yearly $29,260 $32,711 $38,867 $47,545 $52,924
    Wenatchee Hourly $12.35 $15.23 $18.54 $23.89 $30.08
Monthly $2,140 $2,639 $3,213 $4,140 $5,213
Yearly $25,688 $31,681 $38,572 $49,689 $62,570
    Yakima Hourly $12.45 $14.93 $18.54 $22.85 $38.15
Monthly $2,158 $2,587 $3,213 $3,960 $6,611
Yearly $25,893 $31,058 $38,560 $47,538 $79,356
United States Hourly $11.84 $14.14 $17.32 $21.50 $26.62
Monthly $2,052 $2,450 $3,002 $3,726 $4,613
Yearly $24,620 $29,420 $36,020 $44,710 $55,360

(1) Wage estimate is not available.

Although many collectors receive only a salary, some also receive commissions or bonuses. This extra pay usually is linked to the number of cases collectors close. Pay varies with the employer's size, location, and type. The worker's education, experience, and responsibility also affect wages.

Bill and account collectors who work full time usually receive benefits. Common benefits are sick leave, paid vacation, and health insurance.

Employment and outlook

Washington outlook


The table below provides information about the number of workers in this career in various regions. It also provides information about the expected growth rate and future job openings.

Bill and Account Collectors (SOC 43-3011)

Location Current employment Growth over 10 years Annual openings
Washington 3,273 -7.2% 16.1% 274
    Adams, Chelan, Douglas, Grant, and Okanogan Counties 54 -1.9% 13.4% 5
    Asotin, Columbia, Ferry, Garfield, Lincoln, Pend Oreille, Stevens, Walla Walla, and Whitman Counties 53 -1.9% 8.6% 5
    Benton and Franklin Counties 60 -6.7% 15.0% 5
    Clallam, Jefferson, and Kitsap Counties 18 0.0% 11.9% 2
    Clark, Cowlitz, and Wahkiakum Counties 330 -10.0% 15.2% 25
    Grays Harbor, Lewis, Mason, Pacific, and Thurston Counties 198 7.6% 14.1% 24
    Island, San Juan, Skagit, and Whatcom Counties 66 4.5% 14.6% 7
    King County 1,043 0.5% 19.6% 109
    Kittitas, Klickitat, Skamania, and Yakima Counties 107 31.8% 13.8% 21
    Pierce County 669 -0.4% 15.2% 67
    Snohomish County 254 -19.3% 12.4% 13
    Spokane County 349 -16.6% 13.9% 20
United States 258,000 -7.5% 5.2% 27,700

National employment

Major employers:

National outlook

Demand for billing and account collectors is expected to decline. Automation has slowed growth in this occupation. In addition, consolidation in the collection industry in recent years has limited job growth.   

Most occupations need fewer workers when the economy is poor. However, bill and account collectors is just the opposite. When the economy is bad, fewer people can pay their bills. Thus, more companies need collectors to contact debtors.

Job prospects are expected to be excellent due to high turn over in this occupation.

Other resources

ACA International - The Association of Credit and Collection Professionals (external link)
PO Box 390106
Minneapolis, MN 55439-0106
Consumer Data Industry Association (external link)
1090 Vermont Avenue NW, Suite 200
Washington, DC 20005
International Association of Commercial Collectors (external link)
4040 West 70th Street
Minneapolis, MN 55435


Career cluster

Career path

O*Net (external link) occupation

O*Net job zone (external link)

DOT occupations

Strong Interest Inventory

Holland occupational cluster