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 forthcoming 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$15 per hour. 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 one is scheduled for 2020. Preliminary work has already begun, and the US Census website states that there will be several thousand temporary jobs on offer, with the largest intake of staff taking place in summer 2019.

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.”

US passport needed for census takers

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, which you can find here. 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.

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 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.

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.

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.

The US Census website states that the biggest staff intake is during Summer 2019, so the peak time for applications is between March and June.

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.

Door knocker

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 already begun 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 that 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. 

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About Author

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Founder of HomeWorkingClub.com - Ben is a long-established freelancer with a passion for helping other people take control of their destiny and break away from "working for the man." Prone to outbursts of bluntness and realism.

4 Comments

  1. Avatar

    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.

    Thanks

  2. Avatar

    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!

    • Avatar

      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,

      Ben

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