Careers in Debt Counseling and Management – An Overview of Some Key Job Profiles

Fueled by very easy access to credit, the average American tends to live a life focused on instant gratification. Americans today have access to a large number of debt options for financing their homes, cars, household equipment and appliances, education, medical expenses, and their lifestyle. Accordingly, in addition to the various governmental agencies, a large number of financial institutions in the private sector have come into existence offering a very wide range of financial and debt management services. A quick look at some of the more important career profiles for the aspiring job seeker:

Credit Counselor

Role and responsibilities: The primary role of the credit counselor is to offer sound advice to clients under financial distress with the intention of helping them to develop customized financial plans using the principles of financial budgeting, proven strategies for debt management, as well as financial education.

Credit counselors will try to understand the actual cause of financial distress and offer appropriate consumer education as well as potential ways of solving the problem. The credit counselor encourages customers to enroll with the company they are working for addressing their financial problems in multiple ways that may include debt counseling, debt consolidation, and other established debt resolution methods. The counselor is also responsible for verification of all information provided by the customer using various online resources and the services of credit rating bureaus.

Qualifications: At the very minimum, applicants wishing to build a career in credit counseling should have a high school diploma, however, it is preferred that he has an undergraduate degree with exposure to marketing, commerce, accountancy, and related subjects. While some companies will accept freshers, most companies operating in the intensely competitive financial services environment prefer to hire candidates with some experience in customer service or in an industry with a phone-based operating environment. Candidates with specialized knowledge of the financial counseling and debt management industry as well as the relevant certifications are preferred.

Skills: Credit counselors need to be extremely personable, as they need to deal with customers facing severe financial distress. They should have a lot of patience in extracting the relevant information from both the customer as well as any documents that the customer offers. The counselor should have intimate knowledge of the financial counseling process, the various alternatives that the customer can benefit by, and the importance of debt consolidation ratings. They should have the ability to compose the correspondence required to interact with the customers as well as write out the reports required for internal record keeping and approval processes. Fluency in computer operations, attention to detail, proficiency in time management, advanced ability to comprehend verbal and written communication, communication skills, time management, and the ability to work in a team environment are essential character traits and skills expected of credit counselors.

Debt Negotiator

Role: There are many situations when the amount of debt is simply too large for the debtor to consider repayment with the usual strategies like budgeting, adjustment of lifestyle, and debt consolidation. When simple calculations reveal that the debtor has no other alternative but to file for bankruptcy, a last-ditch attempt may be made to reduce the amount of the credit card debt or medical debt by negotiating with the creditors to reduce the debt amount drastically. The reason why creditors agree to accept a substantial reduction of the debt as payment is not too hard to figure out. The typical debt comprises credit card debt or medical debt that is unsecured so if a debtor files for bankruptcy, it is almost certain the creditor would get nothing back. When a debtor offers to pay a reduced amount of the debt in full discharge of his outstanding amount, settling is invariably a better option, as some cash would still come into the company coffers. The process calls for advanced negotiating skills, intimate knowledge of how creditors account for their receivables, which an average debtor does not possess; hence the need for a debt negotiator to pursue the debt settlement.

Responsibilities: The prime responsibility of a debt negotiator is to analyze the debts of a debtor desiring to undergo debt settlement and explain the process to him, including the pros and cons. According to, debt settlement will have a negative impact on your credit score for as long as seven years. Since most creditors refuse to entertain approaches for debt settlement, the debt negotiator will advise the client what to do to create more pressure on the creditor. This invariably means holding up all future monthly payments and diverting the money to a special account set up for this purpose. When as per calculations, the debt negotiator feels that the debtor will be amenable to debt settlement; an offer can be made to settle the debt with the accumulated savings. Debt negotiators must possess the skills for persuasive negotiation based on a proper projection of the client’s financial hardship so that the creditor settles for the least amount possible. He is also responsible for interacting with the customer and ensuring that he is on board with the debt settlement process because it is quite likely that the collection agents will still be chasing him.

Qualifications and skills: The debt negotiator needs to have very good interpersonal and presentation skills together with an advanced sense of judgment and an ability to adapt quickly to the situation. He must possess a very high degree of negotiation skills, persuasion, and tact as well as a passion for helping people in need. He should be able to pay very close attention to detail and thoroughly understand the credit policies of card issuers and other retail lenders. Typically, to get a job, a debt negotiator should have an undergraduate degree in finance, economics, accountancy, etc. and have experience of dealing with customers as an account manager, debt collector, lender, loss mitigation, etc. The ability to think creatively and the desire to get things done are qualities that will help in career advancement.


With debt being an integral part of the American way of life, careers in financial services, especially those that deal with counseling and debt mitigation have a very bright future. Candidates who are well spoken, have an analytical bent of mind, the ability to empathize with customers and the will to achieve difficult goals are the best suited to these roles.

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