Enumerator: Job Description, Duties and Outlook

Enumerators require little formal education. Learn about the training, enumerator job duties and salary expectations to see if this is the right career for you.

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Essential Information

Enumerators collect demographic, economic and housing data on behalf of the U.S. Census Bureau. They are responsible for canvassing neighborhoods, then documenting and reporting the information. Most enumerators are hired to work with the population and housing census that occurs every decade, but there are other types of censuses that are taken more frequently. Most of the jobs are temporary, and salaries vary depending on the location.

Required EducationNo requirements
Salary* Varies by location; examples from 2010 are $12.25 per hour in Jackson, MS; $23 per hour in Boston, MA; $17 per hour in Providence, RI

Source: *The New York Times

Job Description

Enumerators, also known as census takers, conduct research on behalf of the U.S. Census Bureau. They collect household and demographic information by canvassing their assigned areas. Enumerators must appropriately document and report the results they find.

The U.S. Census Bureau conducts surveys about the U.S. population, economy, governments and communities. Depending on the type of census, it may be completed every five or ten years. Some surveys are conducted annually. Enumerators typically work for the population and housing census, which occurs every ten years.

Job Duties

Enumerators complete their research in specific areas. They typically begin by reviewing their assigned field and preparing an efficient route. Once a route is planned, census takers travel to designated households and conduct interviews with residents. They must identify themselves and help individuals complete a census form. They may need to assist residents by reading forms and answering questions about the census.

Census takers are also responsible for verifying household addresses and ensuring that all maps and address lists are correct. They correct any discrepancies they encounter in existing census data. For example, they may be sent to a unit that is vacant or no longer considered a household. Enumerators must also leave a notice of their visit at households that are occupied but vacant at the time of their visit. All collected census information, as well as documentation of hours, miles and expenses encountered by the census taker, are reported to a U.S. Census Bureau crew leader.

Employment Outlook

Enumerator positions are temporary and typically only occur every ten years, during the population and housing census. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that in April 2009, the U.S. Census Bureau hired 114,000 enumerators to participate in the 2010 census. At the peak of employment, in May 2010, 564,000 total temporary workers were employed (www.bls.gov). Wages vary by locality, responsibilities and the cost of living of an area; for example, in 2010, the New York Times reported hourly pay ranging from $12.25 for workers in Jackson, MS, to $23 for census takers in Boston.

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