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Do You Have What it Takes to Be a Census Taker?

We've admired their dedication and been exasperated by their penmanship. Do you have what it takes to be a census taker? If you do, you could help preserve history this spring for the 2010 census and earn some extra money too.


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Resource: GenWeekly
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There is a silent but ever-present voice as we pore over a census. It's the census taker, the stranger whose penmanship we become intimately acquainted with, the person who chatted with our ancestors in person and now hands to us the details of their lives. Unfortunately, sometimes it's also the person who misspelled names, checked the wrong box or whose handwriting looks like a spirograph drawing.

Think you could do better? The 2010 Census is hiring census takers to follow up on households who do not mail back their 2010 census form. It's a chance to record history, work in your community and make some money as well.

What Do I Do as a Census Taker?

A census taker receives a list of addresses that have not mailed back a census form. He or she visits the households and records the necessary information. The 2010 census only contains ten questions, as there is no long form this year. "The census taker will ONLY ask the questions that appear on the census form," the U. S. Census Bureau assures readers on its website.

Because a census taker must catch people when they are at home, expect to work evenings and weekends. The U. S. Census Bureau estimates that 2010 census takers will work 20 to 40 hours a week.

Census Taker Qualifications

According to the U. S. Census Bureau, would-be census takers must have the following qualifications:

- Solid written and oral English language skills

- U. S. citizenship (if you have a bilingual skill which no available U. S. citizens have, you may be a legal, permanent resident or a non-citizen with the appropriate visa)

- 18 years of age

- Valid social security number

- Valid driver's license

- Background check

A potential census taker must also commit to four days of paid training and take an employment test. The employment test consists of reading and following basic instructions, some math and map reading. Applicants can re-take the test to improve their scores, and a practice test is available on the CensusBureau website: .

The Bureau looks at test scores, language skills, veterans preference, available work and how many hours an applicant can provide a week. "Please understand that not every qualified applicant who takes the employment test and applies will be offered a census job," the Bureau advises.

How Much Do I Get Paid?

Across the nation, the pay for a census taker ranges from $11/hour to $25/hour. How much a census taker makes depends on the area they are in. Not surprisingly, the census takers trudging door to door in Alaska are making the $25/hour wage. The state of Michigan offers wages from $11.25 to $16.50. Erie, PA offers $11.50, while Boston, MA census takers will earn $22.75.

The Census Bureau has an interactive map on their employment website that lets applicants view pay ranges across each state. Pay ranges are provided underneath the contact information for each of the state's local census offices.

How Do I Apply?

If the pay for your area looks reasonable, take down the contact information for your local census office. The local census office will make the job offer if you qualify, so they're a good first call. Another option is to apply online or phone 1-866-861-2010.

The U. S. Census Bureau advises on its website that most hiring will take place during the spring of 2010, so send in an application quickly. You never know how many people with spirograph handwriting are competing against you.

Source Information: GenWeekly, New Providence, NJ, USA: Genealogy Today LLC, 2010.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Genealogy Today LLC.

*Effective May 2010, GenWeekly articles that are more than five years old no longer require a subscription for full access.

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