Applying to be a Census Worker

Mark and Lori posted a message on the South Florida 9-12 Meetup site, suggesting that members sign up to work on the 2010 Census in order to “help prevent fraud and intimidation“.  Both Fred and I had been thinking the same thing, but hadn’t checked the census.gov site in quite awhile.  Last we’d checked, they weren’t hiring.   We’ve done poll-watching and poll-working during elections for similar reasons.  So we wanted to make sure that the hiring process and employment (if either of us is hired) is handled properly.

I went to the http://2010.census.gov website on Monday, clicked on Job Seekers on the top right, and started reading.  The website is well-written. I called the West Palm Beach number to apply and was placed on hold and then disconnected.  Not to be deterred, I called again, and the gentleman who answered was polite, took personal information on me and Fred, and told us where and what time to go for testing.  We were scheduled for this morning in Palm Beach Gardens.  As far as we can tell – one takes the exam and if hired, is assigned to work close by to where one lives.  We received an rsvp call yesterday.  Everything seemed very professional.

Both of us had taken the practice test which is found on-line.  Definitely take the time to do the practice test.  While the questions are of course different, the practice test is almost identical in the type and quantity of questions on the real-thing.  We also printed and filled out the application forms prior to coming to our appointments.  That, however, did not save us time, as we had to sit through the filling out of forms by everyone present before taking the exams.  Make sure that you bring required identification materials.  We brought passports, but other forms are outlined on the website and by the person you will talk to when making the appointment.

We were told to arrive at our testing location at least 15 minutes prior to the appointment time.  We signed in, found our home’s ‘block location’ on the required maps and waited for our ‘recruiter’ to start the meeting.  Fellow 912’er Lynne Sherrer also happened to be part of the group of about 20 folks.  The recruiter talked us through filling out the forms.  He was patient, thorough and well-paced.  After a ten minute break, he handed out the testing materials, scrap paper for us to work problems on, and pencils.  The test is timed at 30 minutes.  There may have been a couple of folks who did not complete in time, but I think most people paced themselves to finish it; and it consists of 28 questions.  Prepare to spend about 2-2.5 hours for the entire application process.

While we were applying for enumerator/ground work types of positions, there are supervisory jobs available as well.  A separate exam, offered periodically, is required in addition to the one we took, for a supervisory position.  The recruiter said that most of the jobs are self-directed.  For the most part we would be working out of our homes – in the evenings or weekends.  The bulk of the hiring will be done in January.  We will be informed about employment by telephone.  We didn’t stay to see how we did on the test, but one can call in to find out if the score was satisfactory or unsatisfactory.

My impressions of the process were quite positive.  While the exam isn’t difficult, and I don’t know what score is required in order to pass, I think that the people hired will be able to do simple arithmetic, understand written directions, understand simple maps and definitely be literate.  It really wouldn’t have been possible to cheat – since people sitting next to each other all got different versions of the test.  The exam can be re-taken at other times if one fails.  The recruiter did examine the actual id’s used – whether they were passports, drivers’ licenses, social-security cards, etc.   Obviously, none of the above would preclude fraud in the actual census.  But it was a good start! 

An additional link taking you directly to the jobs page is at:    http://2010.census.gov/2010censusjobs/


One Response to “Applying to be a Census Worker”
  1. Douglas Armstrong says:

    Hi Iris, thanks for sharing this info. I was very interested in your post here. I’m very glad to see other folks still taking an active interest in the upcoming Census… I was concerned that after the ACORN fall-out, and the ensuing Senate decision, that people might simply not pay attention any more…

    I spoke with a recruiter for the 2010 Census recently as well. He works in West Palm, and he was at my job (for a personal auto accident/ unrelated to Census). I saw his lanyard and badge around his neck identifying his job, so I engaged him about it a little. (I couldn’t believe my good fortune, as I was already planning on ‘looking into’ this Census and the integrity of their activities. And then one day, a guy just literally walks up to my desk with a Recruiter badge LOL!)

    I may not have the time to work the 2010 Census, honestly – not just due to work, but with my family, 912 activities, etc… but I will consider it again more closely after the Christmas holiday. I have an “in” regardless.

    Thanks Iris! Great post.

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