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By Nsim Team
If you want to become a credit counselor, you first need to determine if this career path is a good fit for your skills, interests and personality traits. If the following description sounds like you, then you’re probably well suited for a career as a credit counselor:
• You have a keen interest in helping people get their finances back on track
• You enjoy teaching and advising others
• You have excellent listening skills and are able to put others at ease
• You work well with numbers and with people
• You enjoy gathering and analyzing financial information
• You are willing to compete for relatively few job vacancies
• You are willing to negotiate with creditors on behalf of others
Who is a Credit Counselor ?
Credit counselors, also known as debt counselors, are responsible for providing counseling and advice to their clients in order to help them gain money management skills that will help them recover from high levels of debt in the short term, and ensure their financial security over the long term.
To help their clients, credit counselors must first gain an understanding of the client’s overall financial situation. This includes determining their level of monthly income, the value of their assets, the amount of their debt, who the creditors are, what interest rates are applied to their debts, and so on.
Once they have gained an understanding of their client’s financial situation, credit counselors must help the clients determine a monthly budget, including a debt repayment plan, based on what they can afford to pay their creditors. Credit counselors also typically communicate and negotiate with creditors (and other relevant parties, such as banks) on their client’s behalf.
Education Needed to Become a Credit Counselor
The educational requirements for becoming a credit counselor typically vary by employer. Typically however, job vacancies for credit counselors are highly competitive, and you will likely need a bachelor’s degree in a relevant field if you want to become a credit counselor, as well as professional certification.
A relevant undergraduate degree will most likely be one in accounting, finance or economics. A degree in one of these fields will provide you with an understanding of complex financial matters, a perfect knowledge base to help clients solve their financial problems.
A relevant degree however, could also be in psychology, social work, human ecology or counseling. In addition to dealing with financial issues, credit counselors need to be able to provide advice and guidance regarding some of the most emotional and sensitive issues their clients face. A degree in one of these fields can help credit counselors develop the appropriate interpersonal skills to allow their clients to trust them and be comfortable talking to them about these sensitive issues.
Skills Needed to Become a Credit Counselor
In order to become effective in a career as a credit counselor, and perform your job duties with competence, you need to posses a certain set of financial, social and business administration skills. These skills are usually acquired as a result of your education, your previous work experience, and on-the-job training.
• Ability to work with numbers easily
• Able to prepare budgets and balance sheets
• Excellent listening and communication skills
• Knowledge of debt reduction methods, such as repayment plans and bankruptcy
• Knowledge of collection practices and policies
• Negotiation skills for dealing with creditors and courts
Who Creates Jobs for Credit Counselors?
Credit counselors are employed primarily by non-profit and not-for-profit debt management, and financial counseling organizations. Typically, these types of organizations are financially supported by government grants and corporate sponsorships, funding which allows them to keep their fees low enough for clients to afford their services.
Some credit counselors may be self-employed, although without corporate sponsorships and government funding their fees can become too expensive for clients to afford. Government agencies, as well as private for-profit financial planning companies may also employ credit counselors.