Census Worker: Options and Job Descriptions

Census workers, or enumerators, typically require no formal education. Learn about the training, job duties and further job options to see if this is the right career for you.

Essential Information

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. Most census takers work in the field conducting interviews. Permanent employees typically need at least a college degree; preferred education requirements for temporary employees can vary.

Required Education None for temporary census workers; college degree may be necessary for permanent employees
Projected Job Growth (2012-2022) -1.6% (for all federal government workers)*
Average Salary (2015) $18,161 (for Grade 1 federal employees with no prior work experience)

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

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.


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.


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.


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 1.6% 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 $18,161 in 2015. With additional experience, employees can earn higher salaries.

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