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How To Get A Job with the US Census

Updated on March 19, 2010

 With so many millions out of work, one might think that getting a temp job with the local US Census might be easy. Most of the major hiring will begin in April and continue into May, but does vary with location. Hours are unpredictable all based on need. While you may be willing to work 40 hrs a week, you may only work half of that.

Most of the jobs at the local level are enumerators, people that walk around house to house and ask a series of questions like those sent via mail to residences. The basic thrust of the questions are simply who lives where and what is the relationship.

How to Get a Job

Call your local Census office, it can be found on their website. Find out when the exams are and where. They take 30 minutes, but the whole process of paperwork expands the time to 1.5-2 hours. The exam is not difficult and one can use the practice tests from the website. Once the exam is taken, they score it within minutes, you must receive a score 70% or higher. If you fail, simply ask to retest. They allow it.

Now comes the interesting part. Jobs vary considerably with location and size of county and city. Jobs depend on the glut of applicants, and nowadays, there is plenty of applicants. Like any company, the US Census takes the best of the lot. They just don't want anyone needing a job. Pay rates vary, but usually are $15-20 hr.

What Does the US Census Look For?

One examiner told me the following:

1. You receive extra points for having a college degree

2. You receive extra points for having supervisory or manager background

3. You receive extra points (5-10 pts) for being a military veteran

Items 1 and 2 are hidden values added to your exam score. Item 3 directly and openly increases your score. Taking a retest exam seems to be subjective and at the discretion of the examiner, not everyone is told about this. In my case, I scored a 90. The examiner suggested I retest. I thought 90 was high, to that, she said, "It is, but with a glut of applicants, those with a higher score will get the job", she noticed my education etc., and indicated that I would receive more preference do to my background over someone who did not have the same qualifications.

If you are selected, training is four days long and paid. The highest possible score is around 110, 100 on the exam and 10 veteran points (disable). More likely are scores from 90-100. The examiner told me that in areas with a lot of IT companies, the applicants are very educated and competition is stiff. The number of actual jobs is also unknown because each county and city may require different amounts.

So, that is the dilemma. The same old story of too many people looking for work and the employer is selecting only the cream of the lot. 

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