Employment Trends in the Debt Collection Industry
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were 258,000 bill and account collectors in 2018. Between the years 2018 to 2028, the debt collections industry will actually decline by an estimated 8% (or 19,400 jobs).
The Bureau reports new employment opportunities for debt collectors will occur in healthcare and the financial services industries. It is interesting to note that the healthcare industry is one of the major sources of continuous growth for collection jobs. As the cost of healthcare increases, so does the need for management of debt portfolios. While much of the collection activity will remain with the original creditor, there is a growing trend in the healthcare industry to outsource debt collection to third party agencies. The healthcare industry is among the fastest-growing, so it is logical that creation of collection jobs in the health care industry is a result.
Due to previous trends, speculation exists that while first-party collection departments will continue to service their own debt, there will also be a continued rise in outsourcing debt collection to third-party collection agencies, whether by placement on contingency, or via the sale of a debt portfolio. Due to economic conditions, outright sale of bad debt to debt purchase companies is a current trend, and the growth of debt purchase companies as a source of collection jobs is a result.
The existence of foreign companies competing for domestic jobs does create the possibility for competition in the collection industry. While recently it has been popular for large-scale operations to outsource outside the United States for call-center services, such as customer service, this practice will not have an adverse effect on job growth in the collection industry. It is widely regarded that the success rate of domestic agencies outweigh the savings incurred by using a foreign workforce, and competition for domestic collection jobs will remain a marginal percentage.
The recent economic downturn, which affected many industries, reduced the workforce, and eliminated many prospects for opportunities for job growth, has not affected the collection industry adversely and thus the collection industry continues to remain stable. Past indicators show that collection jobs have a tendency for growth. This is largely in part to the need for the recovery of increasing bad debt due to the fiscal troubles that effect so many during trying economic times. While an economic downturn is not a guarantee of growth during a depression, it is certain that collection jobs remain stable, unlike many other jobs in different industries.
Collection jobs will continue to remain competitive and production-based. Past and present, special consideration does not depend on how long one has been a collector, but rather on the performance of the collector. This is apparent in monthly goals that determine reduction of delinquency rates and measurement of debt recovery used in all types of debt collection environments. From first-party collection departments to third party collection agencies, production is the key to advancement. Exceeding monthly goals will solidify a position in career debt collections, and open doors to advancement opportunities as well. Continuing education will facilitate advancement into management or administrative positions in the collection industry.