In 2018, a financial literacy survey found that 61% of Americans had credit card debt. Of those, about 38% carried that debt from month to month, accumulating interest charges.
That means millions feel the emotional and financial burden of debt. It also hinders them from moving forward with life and getting credit to buy homes or cars. Even so, most of those in credit card debt have done nothing to try to lower their interest rate, according to the survey, which was done by the National Foundation for Credit Card Counseling.
This is why credit counselors are needed and provide a valuable service for millions across the country.
What Is a Credit Counselor?
Credit counselors provide expertise on managing debt. They work with both individuals and organizations, although most frequently with individuals. That work can involve many facets of debt management and budget planning. They also provide insight into the best type of loan for different situations, as well as explaining how various loan requirements work.
They may provide counseling in specific areas, such as mortgages, student loans or bankruptcies. Credit counselors also get called in to assess a person’s financial situation and help them set up a monthly budget. They do this through one-on-one counseling or seminars and workshops. They may also help organizations prepare written credit counseling information to give to clients.
It’s a challenging but rewarding profession. As a rule, people do not want to talk about money, much less their debt. Credit counselors play a valuable role in sorting out credit issues before they worsen.
What Do Credit Counselors Do?
The exact job requirements for a credit counselor vary depending on where they are employed and the nature of the position.
When working with individuals, credit counselors first assess the client’s financial position. This involves examining issues such as monthly income, available cash, amount of debt, bills owed each month, etc. They then use this information to help clients make decisions on important financial issues (for example, how much mortgage they can safely afford).
Many focus especially on those who find themselves in credit card debt. That’s a more common issue than many know, because it’s not something people tend to discuss openly. Credit counselors help by choosing a strategy that works best based on the specific situation, such as paying off high-interest debt first to avoid bankruptcy or foreclosure on a home.
Potential Salary and Job Growth for Credit Counselors
Most credit counselors work with credit counseling agencies. They may also work for a financial institution or for a school in helping students with student loan issues.
It’s an in-demand job. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics* projects that the number of credit counselors will increase 14% between 2016 and 2026.
In May 2017, the median annual wage for credit counselors was $44,710.
How Do I Become a Credit Counselor?
The BLS reports that credit counselors need a bachelor’s degree to enter the field. While it may not be required by all companies, U.S. News & World Report notes that those with a background in business and finance could find it easier to land a credit counselor job.
Are you a good fit to work as a credit counselor? According to O*NET, certain characteristics make people a better fit for credit counseling. They include:
- Concern for others
- Attention to detail
With the debt issues that millions of Americans face, it’s more important than ever to have experts in debt and financial management providing guidance. Those with an interest in those issues and a desire to have a career that focuses on helping others should consider a career in credit counseling.
*Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Data for Occupations Not Covered in Detail, on the internet at https://www.bls.gov/ooh/about/data-for-occupations-not-covered-in-detail.htm (visited April 8, 2019).
National long-term projections may not reflect local and/or short-term economic or job conditions, and do not guarantee actual job growth. Information provided is not intended to represent a complete list of hiring companies or job titles, and program options do not guarantee career or salary outcomes. Students should conduct independent research for specific employment information.