Tax Collector: Job Description & Career Requirements

Tax collectors have the tough job of working for government agencies to ensure that individuals and businesses pay taxes on time. In doing so, tax collectors find themselves serving as both investigators and customer service representatives; they may assist delinquent tax filers while also looking for ways to retrieve what is owed. It is demanding work that requires one to sometimes play the role of the bad guy in an effort to serve a greater purpose.

Career Definition of a Tax Collector

Tax collectors, also referred to as revenue officers, attempt to gather money owed to the government by individuals or businesses late in filing tax returns. Tax collectors check into the background of those who have struggled to pay; they also communicate with these people to work toward a solution. They are responsible for conducting field audits, evaluating financial information and keeping records on each case. Most tax collectors work for the government at federal, state or local levels.

EducationBachelor's degree in business, accounting, or finance. Master's degree may be required.
Job SkillsPersistence, in addition to excellent communication, computer, and customer service skills
Median Salary (2015)*$51,430 (Tax Examiners and Collectors, and Revenue Agents)
Job Outlook (2014-2024)*6% decline in job growth (Tax Examiners and Collectors, and Revenue Agents)

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Required Education

Most agencies that hire tax collectors require job candidates to have at least a bachelor's degree; to advance in the field, obtaining a master's degree or more may be necessary. Degrees prospective tax collectors will want to consider are a Bachelor of Science in Business, a Bachelor of Science in Accounting, A Bachelor of Science in Finance and a Master's of Business Administration in Tax Accounting. Most undergraduate programs of interest to tax collectors take four years to complete, while graduate programs generally take an additional two years. In addition to education, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics notes that most tax collectors also have relevant experience in the field.

Skills Required

Tax collectors must have great persistence, since getting individuals and businesses to address unpaid taxes can be extremely difficult. Great communication skills are desirable, since tax collectors must write and talk with people facing financial distress. Tax collectors must also have computer experience; investigatory work is almost entirely done online.

Career and Economic Outlook

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that 67,900 jobs existed for tax examiners and tax collectors in 2014. The BLS predicted a decline of 6 percent in this field from 2014 to 2024. As of May 2015, the median salary for tax collectors was $51,430.

Alternate Career Options

Other options to consider in this career field include:

Accountant and Auditor

Faster-than-average employment growth of 11% was anticipated by the BLS during the 2014-2024 decade for this field, which paid an annual median salary of $67,190 in 2015. A minimum of a bachelor's degree in accounting or a closely related field is required for accountants and auditors. These professionals examine and prepare financial records for the efficient progress of organizations.

Cost Estimator

With a bachelor's degree or extensive experience in the construction field, cost estimators then pursue employment collecting and analyzing information to estimate the necessary resources for manufacturing and constructing products or providing certain services. The BLS reported the annual median wage for cost estimators as $60,390 in 2015 and projected faster than average increases in available positions, with 9% growth anticipated from 2014-2024.

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