Credit Counselor Career Information

A credit counselor is a person who is an excellent problem solver with a thorough knowledge and understanding of the credit industry. The knowledge base required is extensive, and includes a range of experience and training required to do the job effectively.

Qualifications

The credit industry in the US has created a certification process for credit counselors to impose a standard of competency and practices. Appropriately, many credit counseling firms require college degrees for employment in this area. That's a good indication of the level of sensitivity in the role, and the requirements of employers.

There are organizations in the US which can advise on the appropriate level of qualifications for credit counselors:

  • National Foundation for Credit Counseling (NFCC)
  • Association of Independent Consumer Credit Counseling Agencies (IACCCA)

When considering a job as a credit counselor, it's essential to work with reputable firms to give yourself a good, industry-credible CV. One of the main reasons for the US credit industry's desire for standards was a very low quality of counseling which generated huge volumes of consumer complaints. Real credit counselors often find themselves cleaning up the results of prior "counseling" which created more problems for their clients.

The workplace environment

The work is essentially case management based. Clients require assistance dealing with a range of debts which have got out of control. The classic example of typical credit counseling problems is a case where a person with a car loan, mortgage, credit card debts, and a student loan has just been laid off, and needs to find a way of handling that situation.

The credit counselor will need to assess finances, restructure and reschedule debts, and find a viable way of balancing the client's budget and commitments. Creditors need to be contacted, and a new repayment program will be required.

In practice, one of the credit counselor's most important roles is to establish a working arrangement with creditors. This also assists the client, because the creditors are more receptive to alternatives if they know the financial arrangements are under professional management.

Many situations are much more complex than that example. There are also many legal issues in credit management. Although most credit counselors are not lawyers, they have to work within the constraints of legal arrangements and understand them. In some cases, attorneys with expertise in credit law are required to deal with these often tough cases.

Salary and wages

Pay scales vary, but the rule of thumb is that the "no frills" credit counseling jobs are low paid, and the quality of services provided to clients is equally unimpressive. Salaries vary depending on the company and the length of employment.

The career environment

Credit counseling can lead to excellent career opportunities, including corporate consultancies. Debt is big business, and it pays accordingly. This is a competitive professional career environment, and a good track record is an essential requirement. The industry requirement for high level formal qualifications and degrees, including business qualifications is mandatory at this level.