So You Want to Work in Credit and Collections?

By Robert Half September 8, 2016 at 5:00am

Credit and collections jobs can range from entry level to senior management. Depending on experience and education, a credit and collections specialist can find an opportunity in most industries. Salaries for credit/collections clerks to credit managers are expected to grow in the coming years, as are most operational support positions, according to Robert Half’s latest Salary Guide. 

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Here's a look at the projected starting salaries, duties, expectations and qualifications associated with credit and collections positions:

Duties and expectations for credits and collections

While duties vary, most credit and collections roles include collecting payments, settling accounts and keeping records. Depending on the company, credit and collections specialists may also be responsible for monitoring account portfolios, collaborating with the sales department, working with clients and providing excellent customer service.

A collections clerk maintains documentation of financial communications, payments and accounts. The clerk also collects payments and settles accounts and is often responsible for initiating collections calls to customers.

An assistant credit/collections manager is similar to a clerk and is often responsible for maintaining customer accounts. Additionally, this position may require the ability to prepare customer credit profiles and requests, provide and follow up with references, and coordinate with customer service colleagues as needed.

A credit manager builds relationships externally with clients and internally with other departments. Core responsibilities typically include evaluating clients, analyzing reports and leading meetings. A credit manager’s responsibilities and duties also might include:

  • Determining the credit worthiness of potential and current customers 
  • Setting credit limits
  • Establishing risks associated with credit 
  • Working with sales and accounting departments to resolve credit issues
  • Developing and analyzing account reports
  • Partnering with collection agencies as needed
  • Providing quality customer service

Depending on the size of the company, a credit manager may also supervise other credit staff or lead a team.

Professional experience and skills

Credit and collections jobs require solid verbal and written communication abilities. Soft skills frequently make the difference between two otherwise equal candidates. Other valuable assets for people in these positions include computer skills (Microsoft Excel is often crucial), stellar time management and organizational abilities, as well as a keen attention to detail. 

A credit and collections clerk generally works under immediate supervision and the experience needed ranges from entry level to five years. Positions usually require a high school diploma and collection training courses.

A credit/collections assistant manager position typically requires one to five years of experience and a bachelor’s degree in finance, accounting or a related field. Due to the nature of the work, it’s important that an assistant manager possesses strong organizational skills, sharp attention to detail and the people skills needed to cultivate strong relationships with clients.

Credit managers require more than five years of experience, with at least two in management, as well as a bachelor’s degree in finance, accounting or a related field. Credit managers must possess a higher degree of analytical thinking, communication and leadership skills.

Salary benchmarks for 2017

Robert Half’s latest Salary Guide notes that things are looking up for credit and collections salaries — increasing from 3.3 to 3.4 percent in 2017, from small to large organizations. A credit manager salary in a large company is projected to range from $80,000 to $114,250; in a midsize company, from $62,750 to $88,500; and in a small company from $52,250 to $73,500. 

An assistant credit manager salary can range from $63,000 to $85,000 in a large company; $51,000 to $67,750 in a midsize company; and $45,000 to $58,250 in a small company. 

Credit/collections clerks can expect from $40,000 to $52,250 in a large company. The range is $36,500 to $48,000 at midsize firms, while the starting salary range at small companies is $35,500 to $44,500.

Get salary projections for credit and collections jobs in your city with the Salary Calculator, and download your own copy of the Salary Guide.

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Editor's note: This post was updated recently to reflect new information.

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