Census Jobs: Become a Census Taker for Extra Income

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Many people arrive at this site looking for ways to make some extra money. It’s well worth checking out the thousands of temporary census jobs being offered across the US. These jobs, which are on offer right now and include census taker positions, involve providing support for the census of 2020.

I was kindly alerted to these jobs by a HomeWorkingClub reader (thank you!) This post describes how these census jobs work, what they pay, and how to apply.

Census work is completely legitimate, and pays upwards of around US$16 per hour, plus reimbursement for work-related expenses. There are opportunities in all US states, and in Puerto Rico.

When is the Next US Census?

The US Census takes place every decade and the next takes place during 2020. Work is underway, and the US Census website states that there are hundreds of thousands of temporary jobs available.

What do Census Jobs Involve?

US Census work includes jobs for door-to-door census takers, recruitment assistants, supervisors and back office staff. The roles are temporary and not all are home based. The majority of these census jobs involve going door to door collecting census responses and updating address and map data.

The official government website states that there are some evening and weekend positions on offer. As such, there are opportunities for you to undertake this work even if you need to do so alongside another job.

Who is Eligible for Census Work?

Although these are only temporary jobs, anticipated to last “several weeks,” census taker work takes place under a rather formal framework.

To get involved, you must be a US citizen aged over 18, with a valid social security number. You need to pass a background check, and cannot do another job that could constitute a “conflict of interest.”

For the vast majority of roles you also need a valid driving licence, although you may be able to use public transport if you are in an area where that’s feasible.

If you are a veteran, you may be given Veteran’s Preference for gaining work on the US census. (We have some other job ideas for veterans here).

How to Apply

There’s an online application process for all US Census jobs and the websites states that running through the application takes around 30 minutes. You can use the same online application for all available positions.

When you apply for a US census taker job, part of the process involves checking that you are eligible to work on the project (as discussed above).

The application also includes “assessment questions” concerning your work history and relevant experience. Your aptitude for the work is also assessed.

Census Jobs 2020

Once you’ve completed an online application, the process continues with a telephone interview for successful candidates. Background checks are then undertaken on successful candidates.

If you succeed in gaining work on the US census, you are “sworn in,” usually on your first day of work, and take an oath of office.

As per information on the official website, “the Census Bureau is committed to hiring people to work in the area where they live.” This is because the nature of the work means that familiarity with the area makes the job much more straightforward.

How Much do Census Jobs Pay?

US census taker jobs typically pay in the region of $15-16 per hour. You can look up the exact rates from state to state here. As an example, census takers in Mendocino County, CA are paid $16.50 per hour.

Map of US states showing Census pay rates

Office jobs related to the US census can pay higher rates. with some examples we saw paying up to $25 per hour.

Training for census jobs is also fully paid, although the website does state that hourly rates may be slightly lower during training.

Census takers are paid weekly,

What About Health Insurance?

The US Census website states that employees could qualify for health insurance “based on the position for which they are hired.” You would need to check the details of this once you’ve been offered a role. There’s a useful article on benefits and insurance for freelancers here.

How Easy is it to Get Census Taker Jobs?

Despite the bureaucracy involved, anecdotal reports online seem to suggest that passing the tests to gain a census job is relatively straightforward. The questions are designed to check you are capable of doing the work involved, which includes reading maps, using basic clerical skills and sorting simple data.

HomeWorkingClub has received comments from people who have managed to earn well from these jobs in the past, and it’s worth reading those posted at the end of this article for further information.

It obviously makes sense to ensure you properly concentrate and undertake the assessments in a quiet, undisturbed environment. However, the tests are not incredibly difficult. I found a practice paper for the previous census assessment test here, which should help you know what to expect.

If you’re keen to be considered for supervisory positions, both in office-based roles or for fieldwork, there are additional “supervisory assessment” questions during the application process. It’s worth noting that there are fewer such positions than there are for general census takers.

What is Census Work Like?

Some people say that census work is an enjoyable way to meet new people, both as part of your team and on the doorsteps of the public. One thing to be aware of is that as a census taker, you will ask people questions relating to things like their ethnic background and income. This may make some people uncomfortable.

Obviously human nature dictates that some people will prove more easy going about providing this information than others.

As such, people skills are important. This is definitely a job most suited to people who are outgoing and comfortable interacting with strangers.

How Long Does Census Work Last?

As explained, these census jobs are temporary and anticipated to last “several weeks.” I have seen online reports referring to five to ten weeks of work, with the possibility of work for up to 40 hours per week.

However, this isn’t guaranteed, with the official website stating that “work may be reduced if there is a lack of available work.”

It seems likely that back office positions may involve a certainty of work for a longer duration. In fact, recruitment has been underway for some time for some of these roles, with some supervisors and clerks already employed at the time of writing.

What Can you Earn as a Census Taker?

In theory, if you did manage to land 10 weeks of work as a census taker, earned an average of $15 per hour, and worked 40 hours per week, you could bring in a total of $6000 before taxes. However this is obviously a “best case” scenario, and would involve working full time for that period.

However, thanks to hourly rates that are above minimum wage, census jobs are a great part-time opportunity. Even without so much work and only working part-time hours, it’s still quite feasible to earn a few thousand extra Dollars for getting involved in the 2020 US Census.

Further Information

The US Census Bureau has published a truly extensive selection of frequently asked questions, so if you want to find out more you can find the census FAQs here.

If you’ve been a census taker before or decide to apply for one of these census jobs, we’d love to hear about your experiences in the comments. 

11 thoughts on “Census Jobs: Become a Census Taker for Extra Income”

  1. I worked for the census last fall as an enumerator, checking addresses. I received my assignments and logged my work on a laptop supplied by the census. The work wasn’t particularly difficult, but you must follow instructions closely. I could set my own schedule, working between 9 a.m. and 9 p.m. (or dark), no more than 8 hours/day or 40 days/week. I did have the occasional opportunity to work up to 10 hours of overtime/week. I also was paid for mileage, and since I was working in a rural area that added up quickly. Pay rates depend on your location; I am in Ohio and received $14.50/hour for training, and $16.00 after that. There are differentials for working Sundays and for working after 6 p.m. Supervisory rates are different. Your wages and reimbursements are directly deposited to your designated account every week.

    You must keep accurate records of your time and your mileage (I kept a small notebook with me and logged all the info when I got in the car and when I left the car). You have direct access by phone to your supervisor and others who can help you quickly.

    Safety was emphasized; if you don’t feel right about a situation, you did not have to “work” that location. There was a category for that information, so that another person could come out later and check.

    You use your own cell phone (supervisors are issued one by the census) and you should have an app for maps, GPS, or something similar, especially if you are working in a rural area.

    You are usually assigned to areas around where you live. I worked in a 3-county area, including my home county. I also spent a week in Kentucky, which was short of enumerators, staying at a motel and working in a 2-county area. All of my expenses were paid for by the census.

    You need to be able to explain what you are doing and why it is important when you speak with people. You need to be pleasant and upbeat, and not take it personally when someone refuses to answer your questions or makes negative comments about the government or the census. (And you can’t talk politics — that’s a rule.) In the time I worked last fall, I only had two instances where I was a little concerned for my safety after remarks made by the occupants of the house, so I just said thank you, beat a hasty retreat, and checked the box for an uncooperative informant.

    I have been hired to work this spring/summer in a supervisory capacity, with training in March.

    Working for the federal government does occasionally lead to some snags and snafus. It took a couple of months to get all my reimbursements from Kentucky, for example. And a couple of times, my supervisor would announce a change in doing something, only to retract it the next day. But they only do this every 10 years, and it changes every time — this is the first time they’ve used laptops, for example. It’s well worth applying for this if you’re looking for some extra cash. I made nearly $5,000 last fall (I worked full-time most of the time, and even did some overtime).

    • Hi Dona,

      This is an extremely useful comment that I’m sure readers will benefit from. Thanks very much for sharing it!

      Best wishes,


    • Thank you for all this info! I submitted my application and am awaiting a response. Your post certainly alleviated my anxiety over the unknown. If I get hired, I am inspired to offer similarly informative feedback.

  2. I,ve applied for the 2020 census job(s).both takers and supervisory.(it was posted on my local city website )
    I’ll let you know how the process goes ,IF, i get an email inviting me for an interview .!
    Has any one ever posted from experience with census jobs ?

  3. This doesn’t strike me as a “Work from Home” job… It’s more of a “Work from someone else’s Home” job. Are there any US Government “Work from Home” jobs that could be done on one’s computer actually in one’s own home that you know about??? I suffer from ‘social anxiety’ and the “door to door” thing just wouldn’t work for me. Besides, I live in a very rural area and the chances of being attacked by someone’s pitbull unfortunately out ways the possibility of a decent day’s earning (not saying ALL pitbulls are bad – Just attempting to paint a scenario). I’m just asking, are there any actual computer work from your home jobs that you know of for the US Government? I have heard of some US Departments hiring remote workers. But with the recent “shutdown” it’s been very hard to get any real answers or information. Thought perhaps with your investigative prowess you might be able to find out!?! Thanks for any info!

    • Hi Connie,

      This is an old article but certainly seems to suggest there are several departments that are open to teleworking. That said, what’s often the case with public sector and more “traditional” organisations is that you get a “normal” job then, over time, persuade them to allow you to work from home! (See link).

      Best wishes,


  4. This was a very good job idea. The process was very simple, and now I’m waiting for my application to be reviewed. If all goes well, I may have a job lined up for the summer.



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