Bankruptcy and credit counselors typically hold certification, which involves passing an exam and sometimes paying a fee. They work for nonprofit organizations that are approved by and affiliated with federal and local agencies.
Bankruptcy and credit counselors are individuals who are trained to help clients through the process of filing for bankruptcy. They help clients develop a personal budget, evaluate their debt and look for alternative money management solutions. After counseling their clients, they present them with a certificate of completion, which is needed to file for bankruptcy.
|Required education||Bachelor's degree|
|Projected job growth* (2014-2024)||15% (credit counselors)|
|Median Annual Salary* (2015)||$43,840 (credit counselors)|
Source *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
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Certification Requirements for Bankruptcy and Credit Counselors
Bankruptcy counselors can find work at nonprofit organizations that have been approved by the U.S. Trustee Program and their local judicial district. Credit counseling agencies need to be associated with the Association of Independent Consumer Credit Counseling Agencies (AICCCA) or the National Foundation for Credit Counseling (NFCC)
Though there is not one standard certification needed to become a credit or bankruptcy counselor, several organizations offer designations that allow individuals to prove they have received advanced training and have knowledge in this area. Some of these organizations have strict requirements about who can earn a credential. Organizations that offer relevant certifications include the National Association of Certified Credit Counselors (NACCC), the NFCC and the Association for Financial Counseling and Planning Education (AFCPE).
National Association of Certified Credit Counselors
The NACCC offers several certification and training programs relevant to prospective bankruptcy counselors. Professionals interested in the credit counselor certification need to submit an enrollment form and pay a fee to take the exam. Enrollment includes membership in the NACCC. The exam features 100 questions covering counseling fundamentals, credit, debt, bankruptcy and financial planning. Certified credit counselors need to complete continuing education requirements and renew their certification every two years. Related certifications are available in financial health and debt settlement.
National Foundation for Credit Counseling
The NFCC certification is only available to counselors employed by member agencies of this organization. The NFCC designates the Certified Consumer Credit Counselor credential to individuals who pass an exam covering six key areas of credit and financial counseling. These areas encompass bankruptcy, debt management, credit, consumer rights, counseling methods and budgeting (www.nfcc.org). Continuing education is required to maintain the credential.
Association for Financial Counseling and Planning Education
The AFCPE offers an Accredited Credit Counselor certification to agencies rather than individual counselors. An assigned group leader from the agency can take the credentialing exam, which tests applicants on financial counseling, budgets, credit legislation, bankruptcy and collections, to name a few. An Accredited Financial Counselor credential is also available for qualified professionals who have at least 1,000 hours of experience as financial counselors. Both of these certifications meet counselor eligibility requirements for agencies seeking Association of Independent Consumer Credit Counseling Agencies membership.
Bankruptcy and credit counselors offer guidance to clients who are considering bankruptcy, through financial advising, budget management and debt evaluation. Various approved organizations offer certification in this field, and continuing education is often required. Job opportunities in this career are predicted to grow by 15% through the year 2024.