No special training is typically required to become a collections specialist, but it can be helpful to acquire experience in billing and collections practices. Working in billing offices can provide the necessary skills. There are also training courses available for people interested in work with billing and collections settings. Continuing education requirements for this profession are minimal, but it is important to keep up with legislation to remain in compliance with the law while completing collections tasks.
Collections specialists are responsible for managing overdue accounts for an organization. Large companies may maintain a collections department, while others contract this work out to specialty firms. Personnel can make contact with account holders to collect the amount due or negotiate a payment plan, if necessary. They may also collect interest and could be authorized to negotiate debt down, depending on the organization. This does not require special training or certification, but good people skills and comfort in financial environments can be extremely valuable for someone who wants to become a collections specialist.
Companies looking for collections specialists usually want people who have customer service experience and some training in collections specifically. One way to become a collections specialist is to start working in a billing and collections office. Initially, entry-level staff may provide administrative support, but over time they can take on bill collection responsibilities. This can also provide an opportunity to learn billing and accounting systems, which can be complex in settings like health care.
Another option is to take courses to prepare to become a collections specialist. Technical schools and community colleges may offer a business curriculum that provides some training, and some specifically focus on billing and collections. Graduates can earn a certification indicating successful completion of the training. This can help them bypass the lower rungs on the career ladder to work in more senior positions immediately. It may also help to earn a certification from a third party organization, particularly in medical collections, where familiarity with medical billing and coding can be helpful.
Experience in the financial industry can also be a way to start a career as a collections specialist. Banks and other financial institutions routinely hire new staff and provide training on the job. This familiarizes people with legal issues and collections processes. They can use their experience on job applications if they want to transition to employment with collections firms. Financial institutions also have their own collections departments and may periodically advertise job openings for interested personnel who want switching positions and become a collections specialist.