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Occupational Profile

Collection Agent

Collection agents use strategies such as letter writing, telephone calls and credit management to collect money owed on past-due accounts.

  • Avg. Salary $40,401.00
  • Avg. Wage $20.39
  • Minimum Education High school diploma
  • Outlook N/A
  • In Demand Lower
Also Known As

Bill Collector, Claims Collector, Skip Tracer

Skills Shortage

Employers that Recruited in the Last 2 Years

45%
45%
Average Wage
Starting
Overall
Top
  • Certification Regulated
  • Strength Required Lift up to 5 kg
NOC & Interest Codes
The Collection Agent is part of the following larger National Occupational Classification (NOC).
Collectors
NOC code: 1435
METHODICAL

Interest in compiling and maintaining records and files; may work with on-line accounts and systems

INNOVATIVE

Interest in tracing and locating debtors and in making collection arrangements; may contact debtors' friends, neighbours, relatives and employers to obtain information

social

Interest in speaking with debtors in person or by telephone to resolve collection issues by making payment arrangements

Reading Interest Codes
A Quick Guide

The interest code helps you figure out if you’d like to work in a particular occupation. It’s based on the Canadian Work Preference Inventory (CWPI), which measures 5 occupational interests: Directive, Innovative, Methodical, Objective and Social.

Each set of 3 interest codes is listed in order of importance.

A code in capital letters means it’s a strong fit for the occupation. 

A code in all lowercase letters means the fit is weaker.

Learn More

Duties
Updated Mar 31, 2017

Collection agents are employed by businesses, financial institutions, governments and collection agencies to get payments from customers or clients who default on loans, credit card debts or other financial obligations.

Collection agents may have a variety of job titles such as:

  • credit adjuster
  • bill or claims collector
  • collection clerk or officer
  • recovery clerk or officer
  • receivables control specialist
  • accounts receivable analyst
  • loan counsellor
  • tax collector.

Small companies may hire part-time collection agents or assign the task of collection to an employee. Large companies usually hire a number of collection agents or contract a receivables management firm. For accounts that are difficult to collect, businesses may hire legal firms or contract private collection agencies.

Collection agents use tact and diplomacy when collecting overdue accounts to preserve a positive customer relationship with the business. They may use a variety of approaches such as:

  • sending persuasive letters
  • telephoning debtors or meeting with them to discuss overdue accounts
  • arranging a repayment schedule based on the debtor's financial situation if the debtor cannot make a full payment
  • using local directories, bureaus, registries and the Internet to locate people (sometimes called skip tracing).

They also may:

  • keep records of payments manually or in a computer database
  • prepare letters and statements of overdue accounts for mailing.

If debtors fail to respond to initial letters, collection agents usually follow up with other letters and phone calls. Most use 3 standard form letters:

  • first a letter of reminder
  • then a letter requesting contact
  • finally a legal demand for payment (used only when appropriate).

Collection agents have access to computer databases and elaborate skip tracing methods for locating people who are difficult to find. Collection agencies usually are hired by businesses or organizations that have had no luck collecting on their own and are willing to pay a fee to get the money owed.

Collection agencies generally resolve about 40% of their debts through phone calls and letters. Payments not collected by agencies may be abandoned or, in some circumstances, legal proceedings may be instigated.

Working Conditions
Updated Mar 31, 2017

Collection agents work in offices. They may sit for long periods of time working at a computer and using the telephone. Since collection agents often phone people at home, they may work Saturdays or start later in the morning and work into the evening. Dealing with unpleasant, upset debtors can be stressful.

  • Strength Required Lift up to 5 kg
Skills & Abilities
Updated Mar 31, 2017

Collection agents need to possess:

  • a high degree of motivation, initiative and perseverance
  • the flexibility required to respond effectively to the unexpected
  • the ability to negotiate with people courteously and effectively in difficult situations
  • good verbal and written communication skills
  • good listening skills
  • good organizational skills
  • the ability to work under stressful conditions, meet deadlines and not be offended by insults
  • the ability to work in a team environment
  • the ability to follow instructions and pay attention to details.

They should enjoy having clear rules and methods guiding their work, speaking with people in person or on the phone, and finding innovative ways to locate debtors and recover liabilities.

Educational Requirements
Updated Mar 31, 2017

Most businesses and collection agencies prefer to hire collection agents who have at least a high school diploma. Some companies hire university or college students to work part-time as collection agents.

Collection agents usually are given on-the-job training. They must become familiar with local and provincial regulations governing collection procedures and learn how to negotiate with debtors. They need:

  • investigative skills to locate debtors and their assets
  • financial analysis skills to determine a debtor's capacity to pay
  • sales skills to persuade debtors to pay the money they owe.

Collectors working for a collection agency to settle debts on behalf of other businesses must have a provincial collector's licence from the Government of Alberta. Licence is not required if the collector is working directly for the original creditor.

For a broad list of programs and courses that may be related to this occupation try searching using keywords.

Certification Requirements
Updated Mar 31, 2017

Certification is not required, as there is currently no legislation regulating this occupation.

Employment & Advancement
Updated Mar 31, 2017

Collection agents are employed by many types of businesses including:

  • retail and wholesale companies
  • banks, credit card companies and other lending institutions
  • hospitals
  • insurance companies
  • leasing firms
  • property management companies
  • trucking companies
  • health clubs
  • drilling, welding and other service suppliers
  • utility companies
  • government departments and agencies
  • collection agencies.

With experience, collection agents in large organizations may advance to legal collections or supervisory positions. In some financial institutions, collection agent is considered an entry level position from which employees may advance.

Collection agents are part of the larger 2011 National Occupational Classification 1435: Collectors. In Alberta, 77% of people employed in this classification work in the following industries:

The employment outlook (PDF) in this occupation will be influenced by a wide variety of factors including:

  • trends and events affecting overall employment (especially in the industries listed above)
  • location in Alberta
  • employment turnover (work opportunities generated by people leaving existing positions)
  • occupational growth (work opportunities resulting from the creation of new positions)
  • size of the occupation.

Employment turnover is expected to increase as members of the baby boom generation retire over the next few years.

Wage & Salary
Updated Mar 31, 2017

Collection agents' earnings vary considerably depending on their duties and qualifications, and on the type of employer. Those who work for hourly wages may earn bonuses or commissions on the total dollars collected.

Collectors
NOC code: 1435

Survey Methodology

Survey Analysis

Overall Wage Details
Average Wage
Average Salary
Hours Per Week

Hourly Wage
For full-time and part-time employees
  • Low
  • High
  • Average
  • Median
Starting
Overall
Top
Wages* Low (5th percentile) High (95th percentile) Average Median
Starting $12.50 $26.98 $16.71 $14.97
Overall $16.22 $32.31 $20.39 $18.16
Top $24.04 $33.18 $26.04 $24.95

Swipe left and right to view all data. Scroll left and right to view all data.

* All wage estimates are hourly except where otherwise indicated. Wages and salaries do not include overtime hours, tips, benefits, profit shares, bonuses (unrelated to production) and other forms of compensation.

B: Good Reliability
Data Reliability Code Definition

Good Reliability, represents a CV of between 6.01% and 15.00% and/or fewer than 30 survey observations and/or if survey observations represent less than 50% of all estimated employment for the occupation.


Industry Information
Public Administration
ALBERTA, ALL INDUSTRIES
Finance, Insurance, Real Estate, Leasing

Skills Shortage

Employers that Recruited in the Last 2 Years

45%
45%

Recruiting Employers that Experienced Hiring Difficulties

17%
17%

Employers with Unfilled Vacancies of over 4 Months

12%
12%

2015 Vacancy Rate

5%
Related High School Subjects
  • Business, Administration, Finance and IT
    • Information Processing
    • Management and Marketing
Related Post-Secondary Field of Study
  • Clerical and Administrative Support
Other Sources of Information
Updated Mar 31, 2017

Credit Institute of Canada website: www.creditinstitute.org

Government of Alberta website, collector's licence information: www.servicealberta.ca/1244.cfm

For more information on career planning, education and jobs, visit the Alberta Learning Information Service (ALIS) website, call the Alberta Career Information Hotline toll-free at 1-800-661-3753 or 780-422-4266 in Edmonton, or visit an Alberta Works Centre near you.

Updated Mar 31, 2017. The information contained in this profile is current as of the dates shown. Salary, employment outlook and educational program information may change without notice. It is advised that you confirm this information before making any career decisions.

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