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Want to be a Debt Counsellor cont...

The minimum requirements to study to be a Debt Counsellor are actually quite low at present.

Finishing your Grade 12 and having 2 years general business experience are all it takes (see below for more detail on what is required by NCA Section 44 and Regulation 10).

Does that mean that those qualifications are enough to prepare you for the rigors of being a Debt Counsellor?


Most people who work in the industry think the qualifications might need to be higher, as the work is very complicated, time consuming, demands good business sense and HR skills. Some legal background and computer skills are also of great benefit.

    • Prospective Debt Counsellors must be older than 18 and should at least have a National Senior Certificate (Grade 12) or equivalent NQF Level 4 qualification.
    • A minimum requirement of two years working experience in any of the following fields are also recommended:
      • Legal or para-legal services
      • Complaints Resolution
      • Consumer Protection
      • Educating or training of individuals
      • Counselling of individuals
      • General business environment.
    • Prospective Debt Counsellors should also display the ability to provide counselling or transfer skills, and demonstrate an ability to manage his or her own finances.

There are a number of popular places where you can do the NCA course, e.g.  University of Pretoria (Enterprises), Damelin and Compuscan.

Sorry, You Can’t Be A Debt Counsellor If…

Though you could do the National Credit Act Course, you would be unable to be registered as a Debt Counsellor with the National Credit Regulator if you are or have been:

    • Listed on the register of excluded persons in terms of Section 14 of the National Gambling Act of 2004.
    • Removed from an office of trust on account of misconduct.
    • A director or member of a governing body or entity that has been involuntarily deregistered or brought the consumer credit industry into disrepute.
    • Convicted during the previous ten years of theft, fraud, forgery, perjury or any offence under the Prevention and Combating of Corrupt Activities Act of 2004 or comparable legislation.
    • Convicted of a crime involving violence or an offence where the sentence was imprisonment without the option of a fine. Subject to an administration order in terms of Section 74 of the Magistrates Court Act.
    • Engaged in, employed by or acting as an agent for a person who is engaged in debt collection, operation of a credit bureau or credit provision.

For further information regarding the application process to become a NCR Registered Debt Counsellor, you can contact the NCR Registrations Department at telephone number 011 554 2700 or email

It's Not Easy Work

Debt counselling is not easy work. It is both technically challenging, with a steep learning curve about technology and legal matters, and emotionally draining.

As you can imagine, dealing with people in crisis can be difficult if you do not handle stress well. You will want the best for the client but may have to address some hard truths with them while doing so. Many will hide information from you, delay in getting you info and documents and can easily derail their own progress. And they may then blame you for their mistakes out of frustration.

Long time Debt Counsellor Adri de Bruyn says: “Having been in the industry for well over a decade, i can tell you that you need to start out with a thick skin, and an abundance of patience and avoid getting emotionally attached to any consumer’s situation that you might be faced with and there will be many during your time as a Debt Counsellor”.

Some consumers struggle to adjust to a more frugal and financially consistent lifestyle. As a result, you will often find that you do lots of work for clients who simply decide to drop out of the process for no good reason. This can be demoralising. Especially when they later realise they made a terrible mistake and come back asking for help that you will then struggle to give them.

Debt counselling is also a constant tug of war between finding time to help existing clients with lots of work and finding new clients to help so that you can stay profitable.

Where Will You Operate From?

If you are setting up a new practice then you need to consider where you will physically operate from.

It depends on whether you plan to have a small practice or a larger team.

If you are going to be a smaller practice, then a home office or small rental space will do. If it is neat, clean, and easily accessible and looks professional, that is great.

For a larger practice, you have to figure out how many support staff and other Debt Counsellors you will have. Costs for a new set up are high, and you should be careful of overcommitting at first.

Moving to larger premises later may come at a cost, (moving always costs) but overcommitting to a space with tons of desks and computers may backfire if you do not bring in enough clients quickly.

‘overcommitting to a space with tons of desks and computers may backfire if you do not bring in enough clients quickly’

Remember that your new practice will be competing for a small pool of potential clients.  At present (and over time) the number of new people coming into debt review has ranged between 10 000 – 12 000 people per month.

These are split between the 1650 registered Debt Counsellors (2023). In theory, that’s 7 people per Debt Counsellor each month.

The reality is that most of these new clients are making use of the +-20 largest practices in the country.

So, where do you find new clients?

Continued in next article…