Census Worker: Options and Job Descriptions

The U.S. Constitution charges the federal government with conducting a nationwide count of U.S. residents every ten years, and the U.S. Census Bureau employs people in various kinds of roles to perform this duty. Permanent employees typically require at least a college degree; preferred education requirements for temporary employees can vary. Census workers may work in agency headquarters in Suitland, MD, regional offices or field offices.

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Census Taker/Enumerator

Census takers or enumerators are typically temporary employees of the U.S. Census Bureau. They work in the field and interview residents of an assigned neighborhood according to strict instructions provided by the Census Bureau. They are also responsible for recording the information they elicit through interviews with citizens and implementing quality control measures with regard to the integrity and accuracy of collected information.

Supervisor

Various types of supervisory positions, often temporary, are available through the Census Bureau, including those that oversee administrative office operations, automation operations, field office operations, recruiting office operations and field operations. Typical job duties may vary slightly among the supervisory roles, but in general, they include supervising and training census takers, among others. They may also oversee personnel levels and workflow according to agency standards, and perform employee assessments.

Geographer

Graduates of cartography degree programs may be qualified to work as geographers for the U.S. Census Bureau, and these are typically permanent positions in headquarters. They create maps to be used by census takers in performing field work such as mailing census questionnaires and interviewing residents. Preparing instructions and custom maps may also be part of the geographer's typical tasks.

Statistician/Analyst

The U.S. Census Bureau employs statisticians and analysts who concentrate on either economics or demographics. The economics statistician or analyst usually collects business and trade data, analyzing and reporting on it to provide a snapshot of the U.S. economy or business activity. The social science statistician collects information about U.S. populations through surveys and prepares reports on how and where people live, including employment, family, fertility, housing and neighborhood descriptions.

Those who specialize in economics typically hold a college degree in economics, marketing, finance, business management or statistics, while those who specialize in demographics usually hold a college degree in demography, criminal justice, sociology or psychology. These are usually permanent positions located at agency headquarters.

Salary and Employment Outlook

While the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) doesn't have employment predictions specifically for Census Bureau workers, it did note that employment for all federal government workers was expected to decline by as much as 2% between 2012 and 2022. According to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, the salary for a grade one federal employee with no prior work experience was $17,803 in 2013. With additional experience, employees can earn higher salaries.

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