Credit counselors are professionals who help clients manage finances, reduce debt, and establish budget. In today’s economy, the credit-based monetary system has brought countless individuals deeply into debt that continues to escalate out of control. Consequently, the need for credit counselors is on the rise. While there are no strict requirements to get into this profession, there are guidelines you need to follow if you wish to become a certified credit counselor.
- Education. Earn a degree in business, finance, accounting and banking practices, or other related courses. Among a number of things, a credit counselor’s job is to provide an in-depth financial guidance to clients. While there is no mandatory degree, an educational background preferably in financial fields of study will be highly beneficial in your pursuit to becoming a credit counselor as you need to be equipped with comprehensive understanding of multifarious financial issues that will enable you to provide effective solutions to complex credit problems. To help you better understand and deal with your clients who are likely acutely in debt, obtaining courses on counseling or client relationship will also be an advantage.
- Licensure or Certification. While certification is not required for becoming a credit counselor, most employers and prospective clients prefer certified professionals. Subsequent to obtaining your degree and/or training programs, refer to the certification programs offered by the National Association of Certified Credit Counselors (NACCC). Apart from the basic credit counseling certification, you may opt to take advanced certifications as a senior credit counselor, or a financial health counselor. The more specialized certifications you have, the more attractive you become to potential employers and clients. Apparently, with multiple certifications you acquire huge potential to get easily promoted at work.
- Continuing Education. Upon passing the licensure exam, you will be granted a renewable certification that is valid for two years. Within this period, you are required to complete at least 16 hours of continuing education to be eligible for recertification. Such is required by NACC to ensure that certified credit counselors are continually enhancing knowledge and skills through programs approved by the organization.
- Employment. Directly communicate with credit counseling centers in your area. State employment agencies, college or university placement offices, and newspaper advertisements are also sources of job leads. You may also seek help of a finance agent who can refer you to clients needing credit counselors. Actively participating in associations for credit counselors can also provide you loads of employment potentials.
Being a certified credit counselor is not all about analyzing and managing client’s finances and debts. It is important to remember that you will be dealing with emotional people who need serious help to get out of debt and direct their lives back on track. For this reason, a genuine interest in helping others and the ability to empathize are important skills and traits that you must have in practicing your job.