The Census Bureau is aiming to hire close to 500,000 enumerators nationally for the 2020 Census. In the State of California, that can mean as many as 60,000 people. In New York City, the Census Bureau needs to hire close to 13,000 enumerators.
Census enumerators conduct the “non-response follow-up” portion of the census. They interview the residents of every household that has not responded via the online or paper forms to collect census information. Enumerators serve as the last line of defense for getting an accurate count, which is critical for federal funding and fair political representation. For Census 2020, the Bureau projects that enumerators may be responsible for recording up to 40% of the count.
Hiring local enumerators will be critical to ensuring a complete and accurate count, especially for hard-to-reach communities. Local candidates bring relevant language skills and cultural familiarity that allows them to access residents who might otherwise keep their doors closed to enumerators from outside the neighborhood.
Job Qualifications & Duties
Candidates must be U.S. citizens 18 years or older and be able to pass a federal background check. Bilingual candidates are highly desired. Veterans may also be eligible for preferential hiring.
As enumerators, candidates can expect to:
- Use smartphones, provided by the Census, to record information about census participants
- Interview residents in assigned areas, explaining the purpose of the census, answering their questions, and recording their answers
- Update address lists and maps via a smartphone
- Maintain and submit records of hours worked, miles driven, and expenses incurred on the job
- Meet with supervisor to review procedures, report issues or concerns, and receive updated instructions
- Attend team meetings and communicate with other enumerators via phone
Working as a census enumerator is a valuable opportunity for development. It pays well (up to $13.50-$30.00 per hour depending on the county), it builds technological literacy and customer service skill, and enumerators may be eligible for displaced worker benefits after the census ends.
Recruitment Process & Timeline
September 2019 - Feb 2020
Paid training & orientation
- 7.5 hours online
- 2 day-long, classroom trainings
Enumeration (“non-response follow-up”)
- Daily scheduling process
- Majority of work occurring in May
Local Recruitment Strategies
Counties, cities, local nonprofits, and community-based organizations should support the recruitment of qualified, local enumerators. The more that local entities can source, engage, and retain a robust pipeline of candidates, the more successful their enumeration will be.
The Census Bureau estimates that it needs anywhere from a 5:1 to a 10:1 candidate-to-hire ratio due to the long, enumerator application timeline and candidate attrition. That means that an area like Los Angeles County—which will need to recruit up to 15,000 enumerators—will need over 75,000 candidates to apply.
County, city, and nonprofit job training programs, community colleges, workforce development boards, adult education programs, and libraries can all contribute to this endeavor by:
- Coordinating with their local Complete Count Committees and establishing a subcommittee on enumerator hiring
- Educating their communities about the census and the enumerator job opportunity
- Providing access to computers and internet to complete the online application and assessment
- Holding workshops and trainings on technical literacy for interested candidates
- Creating off-ramps and transition opportunities for the 500,000 people who may be seeking new employment after their enumerator role ends in July 2020.
We offer tools and services to support local enumerator recruitment strategies.
Commonly Asked Questions
About the Job
What is the work schedule?
Hours are flexible, and enumerators will sign-up for time slots based on Census need and their availability. In general, enumerators work between 20-30 hours a week, often during the evening and on weekends when residents are at home.
How long will the enumerator position last?
Depending on the county, enumerator positions can last for several weeks or up to a few months. Enumerators are typically employed for about 60 days, with the majority of the work occurring in May-July 2020.
How much do enumerators get paid?
Wages range from $13.50-$30.00/hour depending on the county. County rates are posted here: https://2020census.gov/jobs/locations.html
Do enumerators need access to a vehicle?
Depending on the region, enumerators will need access to either a car or good public transportation. As enumerators will be traveling to many households across their neighborhoods, they will need reliable transportation. Importantly, they will be reimbursed for travel and work-related expenses.
What technology skills/access do the job require?
Candidates will need to be able to submit their application online and have an active email address. During the count, enumerators will be using an app on smartphones provided by the Census Bureau.
Can someone be an enumerator if they already work full-time somewhere else?
Yes. Enumerator hours are flexible with assignments given on a daily basis based on the enumerator’s availability with enumerators providing their schedule one week in advance. Assignments are distributed the night before. Current federal employees or active military may be ineligible. See which federal agencies qualify for dual-employment at https://2020census.gov/jobs/faqs.html
About the Application Process
Are there any prerequisites to applying?
Applicants must be US citizens 18 years of age or older and must pass a federal background check. They also must be able to read, white, and speak English. Bilingual applicants and veterans will be given preference in the hiring process.
Can ex-offenders apply to work as enumerators?
Depending on the nature and recency of their criminal record, some ex-offenders may be eligible to work as an enumerator.
What does the application process entail?
The online application takes about 30 minutes to complete. It includes a questionnaire on personal information and an assessment that gauges the candidate’s working style. If chosen to continue in the process, a recruiter will contact the candidate by phone for an interview.
Can you complete the application in a language other than English?
The online job application must be completed in English. The assessment is available in English and Spanish, but candidates who complete the assessment in Spanish may be required to take an additional English proficiency test.
What happens once a candidate submits their application?
Candidates will receive email notifications regarding their application status throughout the application period, as well as email instructions for next steps. If hired, candidates will need to get fingerprinted. Candidates must also complete 7.5 hours of online training and attend two, day-long training sessions before beginning work (both of which are paid).