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Frequently Asked Questions

We understand that questions can arise throughout the application and hiring process.

To assist you, we’ve provided answers here for some of the questions we see most often. If your question is not listed below, please call 1-855-JOB-2020 (1-855-562-2020) and press 1 for technical help with your application or press 3 to reach your area census office. You may also use the Federal Relay Service at 1-800-877-8339 for TTY/ASCII. 

Before You Apply

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The U.S. Census Bureau is an equal opportunity employer. All people are encouraged to apply. If you need assistance applying, please contact your area census office for more information. Call 1-855-JOB-2020 (1-855-562-2020) and select option 3; when prompted, enter your ZIP code to be routed to your area census office. You may also use the Federal Relay Service at 1-800-877-8339 for TTY/ASCII. 

If you are interviewed, you can also inquire about accommodations during the interview process. 

Applicants who are bilingual in English and other languages are encouraged to apply. However, all hires in the 50 states and Washington, D.C., must be able to speak, read, and write in English.

In Puerto Rico, applicants who do not speak English, but do speak Spanish, can be hired as census takers. However, other positions in Puerto Rico require applicants to be fluent in English and Spanish. 

Only U.S. citizens are eligible to be hired.  

If you are a veteran who served on active duty in the U.S. armed forces and were separated under honorable conditions, you may be eligible for veterans’ preference. With veterans’ preference, you may receive preference over nonveteran applicants in the hiring process.

When claiming veterans’ preference, you must provide a copy of your DD-214, Certificate of Release or Discharge from Active Duty, or other acceptable documentation. Applicants claiming 10-point preference will need to submit Form SF-15 and related supporting documentation. You can find the SF-15 here.

For more information, visit the U.S. Office of Personnel Management Veterans’ Preference page

There is no cap on the age for employment. However, you must be at least 18 years or older to be hired for all positions. 

 

Job Details

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The largest number of openings are for census takers. In areas where the Census Bureau has local offices, clerical jobs are also available. In addition, there are a few supervisory and recruiting outreach positions. You can apply for these jobs with one application; the online process will guide you.

Most positions are anticipated to last several weeks, but employment may end at any time or hours of work may be reduced if there is a lack of available work. 

Positions are located throughout the United States and Puerto Rico. Contact your area census office for more information. Call 1-855-JOB-2020 (1-855-562-2020) and select option 3; when prompted, enter your ZIP code to be routed to your area census office. You may also use the Federal Relay Service at 1-800-877-8339 for TTY/ASCII.  

Your work schedule will depend on your position. Generally, hours for field positions are flexible. Some field positions require you to work during the day so you can see addresses on buildings. Other field positions require you to interview members of the public, so you must be available to work evenings and weekends, when people are usually at home. Supervisory positions require employees to be available for certain day, evening, and/or weekend shifts.

Hours for office positions are variable, depending on the availability of work. Most administrative work is done during regular business hours, but office employees may be required to work in the evenings and on weekends. 

Field positions require interviewing members of the public, so employees must be available to work when people are usually at home, such as in the evening and on weekends. Office employees could also be required to work some weekend hours, depending on the availability of work.  

Jobs for the 2020 Census offer competitive wages, which are paid weekly, as well as paid training. In addition, employees doing fieldwork are reimbursed for authorized work-related expenses such as mileage. For more detailed information on specific pay rates, please visit our Pay & Locations page. The map will show the pay rates in your area.  

Temporary 2020 Census employees are paid weekly through direct deposit or a paycheck in the mail. They can expect to receive their first paycheck 10 to 14 days after their first day of work, and they will receive subsequent paychecks every 7 days.  

Yes, field employees will be reimbursed for authorized work expenses such as mileage incurred while conducting census work.  

Positions for the 2020 Census are temporary. However, you can visit the Census Careers page or USA Jobs site to search for permanent employment with the Census Bureau.  

 

Other Special Circumstances

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Some federal employees working at agencies that have a dual employment agreement with the Census Bureau can work in 2020 Census positions. Under Title 13, United States Code, Section 23(b), the Census Bureau may hire federal employees upon approval of agency directors, but only for temporary, short-term work on the 2020 Census.

To be considered, you must complete a job application online. The agencies below have dual employment agreements for 2020 Census positions. Check back periodically for updates to this list.

  • Agency for Global Media
  • Agency for International Development
  • American Battle Monuments Commission
  • Corporation for National and Community Service
  • Department of Agriculture
  • Department of Defense (Civilian Employees)
  • Department of Education
  • Department of Energy
  • Department of Health and Human Services
  • Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)
  • Department of the Interior
  • Department of Labor
  • Department of State
  • Department of Transportation
  • Election Assistance Commission
  • Environmental Protection Agency
  • Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation
  • Federal Election Commission
  • Federal Maritime Commission
  • Federal Trade Commission
  • General Services Administration
  • Government Publishing Office
  • Institute of Museum and Library Services
  • Inter-American Foundation
  • Library of Congress
  • Millennium Challenge Corporation
  • National Aeronautics and Space Administration
  • National Archives and Records Administration (NARA)
  • National Capital Planning Commission
  • National Labor Relations Board
  • National Science Foundation
  • National Transportation Safety Board
  • Nuclear Regulatory Commission
  • Nuclear Waste Technical Review Board
  • Office of Personnel Management
  • Peace Corps
  • Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation
  • Railroad Retirement Board
  • Securities and Exchange Commission
  • Small Business Administration
  • Smithsonian Institution
  • Social Security Administration
  • Tennessee Valley Authority
  • United States Postal Service
  • Veterans Affairs 

Yes, you should still apply. Although your application status will likely show as "ineligible", once your agency's agreement is activated in our application system, your status will be updated. Assuming that there are no other reasons that you are not qualified, your status will change to available for hire. 

 

How to Apply

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Most applicants can complete the job application and answer the basic assessment questions in approximately 30 minutes. Applicants interested in being considered for supervisory positions must answer additional questions, which take approximately 10 minutes to answer.

In some cases, applicants may also be asked to take an English Proficiency Test. This is a timed test with two sections. The test takes a total of 15 minutes.

Your application will allow you to be considered for census taker, recruiting assistant, and office clerk positions (if available in your area). You must answer the supervisory assessment questions to be considered for census field supervisor and office operations supervisor positions. Openings for positions other than census taker are much more limited.

For technical help with the online application:

You can reach our Customer Engagement Center by dialing 1-855-JOB-2020 (1-855-562-2020) and selecting option 1 for technical help. You may also use the Federal Relay Service at 1-800-877-8339 for TTY/ASCII.

For other questions regarding the application:

Contact your area census office for more information. Call 1-855-JOB-2020 (1-855-562-2020) and select option 3; when prompted, enter your ZIP code to be routed to your area census office. You may also use the Federal Relay Service at 1-800-877-8339 for TTY/ASCII.

All hires in the 50 states and Washington, D.C., must be able to speak, read, and write in English. Therefore, the application is available in English only.

Hires in Puerto Rico must speak Spanish. Therefore, the application for Puerto Rico applicants is available in Spanish.

There is no need to reapply. All qualified applications will remain active for the duration of the 2020 Census operation. You can update your application information by logging in to the account created when you applied.

 

Applying Online

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No, you will need to visit the 2020 Census recruitment site to apply for 2020 Census positions.  

Former employees that worked during the 2010 Census will need to apply for 2020 Census positions.  When applying online you must creat a profile by selecting "First Time Applicants Register Here" and follow the instructions.  Once you create your profile you will be sent an email with a link back to the log in page.  Click on the link in the email to verify your email address. You will be taken back to the login screen.  Click on the "Returning Applicants" link to complete the application.  

You cannot apply without a Social Security number. Visit the Social Security Administration site or contact your local Social Security Administration office to access your information.  

Contact your area census office. Call 1-855-JOB-2020 (1-855-562-2020) and select option 3; when prompted, enter your ZIP code to be routed to your local office. You may also use the Federal Relay Service at 1-800-877-8339 for TTY/ASCII. You should also consider contacting the local police department if you suspect someone is using your personal information.  

If you move after you have received a job offer, the offer may be withdrawn. However, 2020 Census jobs are available across the country. Contact your area census office for more information. Call 1-855-JOB-2020 (1-855-562-2020) and select option 3; when prompted, enter your ZIP code to be routed to your area census office. You may also use the Federal Relay Service at 1-800-877-8339 for TTY/ASCII. 

If you do not provide the information noted as required, your application will not be considered.  

The supporting documentation may be necessary to determine whether you qualify. You can log back in to your account to upload the documentation or you can submit your supporting documentation to your area census office after you submit your application. Contact your area census office for more information. Call 1-855-JOB-2020 (1-855-562-2020) and select option 3; when prompted, enter your ZIP code to be routed to your area census office. You may also use the Federal Relay Service at 1-800-877-8339 for TTY/ASCII.

If you mail or fax supporting documentation, please include a cover sheet with the following information:

  • Your full name (as it appears on the application you submitted)
  • The last four digits of your Social Security number
  • Your phone number
  • Your email address (as it appears on the application you submitted) 

 

Assessment Questions

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The assessment questions ask applicants to describe their education, work, and other experience that relates to successful job performance.  

Answers to the basic assessment questions are required for all positions and take approximately 10 minutes to answer. Applicants interested in supervisory positions will be asked to answer an additional set of questions, which take an additional 10 minutes to answer.  

The assessment questions are part of the application process. You can apply and complete the assessment questions online. 

The basic assessment questions are similar to the following:

Example 1

My previous supervisors (or teachers, if not previously employed) would likely describe my self-discipline as:

  1. Superior
  2. Above average
  3. Average
  4. Below average
  5. Do not know

Example 2

I dislike being the center of attention.

  1. Mostly true
  2. Mostly false

The supervisory assessment questions are similar to the following:

Example 1

Which of the following administrative activities have you carried out to ensure others had the materials, supplies, and equipment needed to carry out their work? (Select all that apply. If “None of the above” is selected, be sure this is the ONLY response for this item.)

  1. Maintained inventory of office materials and supplies
  2. Coordinated requests for materials, equipment, or supplies to ensure operational needs were met
  3. Shipped supplies, materials, or equipment using a shipping carrier (e.g., FedEx, UPS, U.S. Postal Service)
  4. Tracked shipments via carrier website to ensure proper delivery
  5. None of the above

Example 2

Select the ONE response that represents your highest level of experience working with others to accomplish goals.

  1. I have limited experience working with others to achieve goals.
  2. I have experience sharing information with others when asked and cooperating to complete routine tasks.
  3. I have participated in project-related team activities by contributing to group discussions and accepting team assignments.
  4. I have contributed to team performance by helping to lead group discussions, establish priorities, and develop timelines and action plans.
  5. I have served as a project or team leader, including directing and monitoring the work of the team, motivating team members, and taking responsibility for attaining team goals.

Your answers to the assessment questions will be used along with your background information to determine your fit for a specific opening.

All 2020 Census employees in the 50 states and Washington, D.C., must be able to speak, read, and write in English. If you choose to read and answer the assessment questions in Spanish, then you are asked to take the English Proficiency Test to help us determine how well you can read and understand English.

Puerto Rico applicants who are bilingual in English and Spanish must take the English Proficiency Test to qualify for positions other than census taker. All other positions require applicants to be proficient in English.

Contact our Customer Engagement Center at 1-855-JOB-2020 (1-855-562-2020) and select option 1 for technical help. You may also use the Federal Relay Service at 1-800-877-8339 for TTY/ASCII.   

 

After Applying

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Applicants can update their application by logging back into their accounts.  Once you log in, you will see a button labeled, "Update Application."  If the button does not appear, it may be that your application is not far enough along in the process to be updated.  Please check back again later if you do not see the button.  Be aware that some changes will require you to provide proper documentation of the change, which could include uploading the documentation to your application. 

Because we need to fill thousands of positions across the country, we start recruiting several months before making job offers. Depending on when you apply, it may be several weeks or several months before we start hiring in your area. Not all applicants will be hired.

The good news is that your application will remain in our applicant pool for the entire 2020 Census operation (unless you ask us to remove it). That way your application could potentially be considered whenever we have openings in your area. You may update the information on your application at any time. Just log in to the account created when you applied and submit your changes.

For more specific information about the hiring timeline in your area, contact your area census office. Call 1-855-JOB-2020 (1-855-562-2020) and select option 3; when prompted, enter your ZIP code to be routed to your area census office. You may also use the Federal Relay Service at 1-800-877-8339 for TTY/ASCII. 

If selected, you will receive an email with information on completing your background check and hiring paperwork. These steps must be completed to receive information about training. The process can take several weeks from job offer to your first day of training. 

You can check the status of your application by logging in to the account created when you applied. You will receive an email notification when the status of your application changes. Status updates also will be available through the online system.  

Selected applicants are candidates who have been offered a job and accepted the offer. Selected applicants must complete the background check process and report to work before they are officially hired. They are hired when they are sworn in and have taken the oath of office, which usually happens on the first day on the job. 

There are a variety of reasons a candidate might be ineligible for a position. Contact your area census office for more information. Call 1-855-JOB-2020 (1-855-562-2020) and select option 3; when prompted, enter your ZIP code to be routed to your local office. You may also use the Federal Relay Service at 1-800-877-8339 for TTY/ASCII.

In some cases, ineligible applicants may become eligible if their status changes. For example, some applicants are ineligible because they are under age 18. Once they turn 18 years old, they can be considered.

If you have been fingerprinted and something in your background check made you ineligible, you can learn more by contacting the Census Investigative Service at 1-301-763-2622 or 1-877-591-3755, Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. ET.

Contact your area census office for more information. Call 1-855-JOB-2020 (1-855-562-2020) and select option 3; when prompted, enter your ZIP code to be routed to your area census office. You may also use the Federal Relay Service at 1-800-877-8339 for TTY/ASCII. 

Your answers to certain questions on the job application may prompt the need for follow-up. This is normal.

To submit the information, contact your area census office. Call 1-855-JOB-2020 (1-855-562-2020) and select option 3; when prompted, enter your ZIP code to be routed to your area census office. You may also use the Federal Relay Service at 1-800-877-8339 for TTY/ASCII. 

 

Job Interviews

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Your interview will be conducted by phone.

Your interviewer may call at different times of the day, including evening hours.

The interviewer is instructed to leave a voice message that includes a callback number; however, an interviewer will attempt to reach you later. You can contact your area census office to follow up. Call 1-855-JOB-2020 (1-855-562-2020) and select option 3; when prompted, enter your ZIP code to be routed to your area census office. You may also use the Federal Relay Service at 1-800-877-8339 for TTY/ASCII.

No, not all qualified applicants will be interviewed. 

We do not guarantee positions. However, you may be contacted again if another position becomes available in your area.

All interviews are conducted by phone.

 

Job Offers

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All selectees will receive a verbal offer by phone and will also receive a job offer letter by email.

Typically, job offers are accepted or declined at the time of the interview.

Yes, employment is contingent upon successfully completing a background check.

You may have another job while working on the 2020 Census as long as your job does not present a conflict of interest. Active duty military members cannot work for the Census Bureau.

Not all qualified applicants are offered a job. If you have received a verbal job offer and have not received a job offer letter by email, please contact your area census office. Call 1-855-JOB-2020 (1-855-562-2020) and select option 3; when prompted, enter your ZIP code to be routed to your area census office. You may also use the Federal Relay Service at 1-800-877-8339 for TTY/ASCII.

If you decline a job offer you will be placed back into the applicant pool for all positions for which you qualify. If you decline job offers three times, you will be removed from the applicant pool.

Employees are eligible for health insurance based on the position for which they are hired.  If you are offered a position, you may inquire about health insurance at that time.

You can be hired for only one position at a time, but you can be considered for additional work if it becomes available in your area. 

Contact your area census office for more information. Call 1-855-JOB-2020 (1-855-562-2020) and select option 3; when prompted, enter your ZIP code to be routed to your local office. You may also use the Federal Relay Service at 1-800-877-8339 for TTY/ASCII.

Once you decline a job offer, you cannot accept it at a later date. Your application will be returned to the applicant pool and you may be offered another job at a later time.

Job offers cannot be delayed. However, if you are offered a job and are not available for work until a later date, please inform the interviewer. Your status will be updated and you may be considered after the stated date if work is available.

The information on your application is used to evaluate your fit for a specific opening. Some applicants are a better fit for positions than others. Not all qualified applicants will be hired.

 

After the Job Offer

Background Check

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All candidates who receive a tentative job offer from the Census Bureau will be required to have their fingerprints taken. Furthermore, candidates applying for certain positions will be required to complete a background questionnaire. The Census Bureau takes public trust seriously and is working to ensure that temporary workers undergo the most accurate background checks possible. Thus, all employees are fingerprinted and the fingerprint images are submitted to the FBI for processing.

The Census Bureau performs background checks and reviews criminal records as part of assessing applicants’ past conduct and suitability for employment. All candidates who receive a tentative offer for temporary 2020 Census jobs go through a pre-appointment process. The Census Bureau will require them to be fingerprinted and will submit an electronic image of the fingerprints to the FBI’s Criminal Justice Information Services Division. The FBI database is searched to see if the prints are associated with a criminal record.

Candidates will have the opportunity to correct inaccuracies and provide information requested by Census Investigative Services. 

It is the selected applicant’s responsibility to fill out and print all required forms and bring them to their appointment. Applicants will receive information about how to access the forms via email.

Applicants won’t be reimbursed for printing their background forms.

Applicants won’t be reimbursed for travel to that appointment.

Applicants may contact the Census Investigative Services at 1-301-763-2622 or 1-877-591-3755, Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. ET. You may also use the Federal Relay Service at 1-800-877-8339 for TTY/ASCII. 

Contact your area census office for more information. Call 1-855-JOB-2020 (1-855-562-2020) and select option 3; when prompted, enter your ZIP code to be routed to your area census office. You may also use the Federal Relay Service at 1-800-877-8339 for TTY/ASCII.

This could mean that adverse information was received in your background check or that clarification is required based on your response to a specific question. Instructions will be provided if you are contacted for additional information.

Attempt to obtain or locate the requested information or contact the Census Investigative Services at 1-301-763-2622 or 1-877-591-3755, Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. ET, for assistance. You may also use the Federal Relay Service at 1-800-877-8339 for TTY/ASCII.  

Yes, provided you requested an extension prior to the deadline. Contact the Census Investigative Services at 1-301-763-2622 or at 1-877-591-3755, Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. ET, for assistance. You may also use the Federal Relay Service at 1-800-877-8339 for TTY/ASCII. 

Once the reviewers receive a complete security package, the background check results will be determined as quickly as possible. Contact the Census Investigative Services at 1-301-763-2622 or at 1-877-591-3755, Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. ET, for assistance. You may also use the Federal Relay Service at 1-800-877-8339 for TTY/ASCII. 

The Census Bureau considers your criminal conduct in determining your suitability for a position, but there are no general prohibitions on hiring you. The Census Bureau considers a number of relevant factors, such as the duties associated with any positions you applied for, the nature of the misconduct and how recent it was, and any evidence of rehabilitation. It is important to provide all the required information about your criminal record when it is requested. The only way to know if you’re eligible is to apply.

Electronic Questionnaires for Investigations Processing (e-QIP) is an electronic system managed by the Office of Personnel Management that allows prospective hires or contractors to submit their security questionnaires (e.g., SF-85, SF-85P, and SF-86).

 

Fingerprinting Appointment

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Upon selection, you will receive contact information by email for fingerprinting. If you have not received this information, please contact your area census office for more information. Call 1-855-JOB-2020 (1-855-562-2020) and select option 3; when prompted, enter your ZIP code to be routed to your area census office. You may also use the Federal Relay Service at 1-800-877-8339 for TTY/ASCII.

There is no cost to you for fingerprinting services.

Please contact your area census office for more information. Call 1-855-JOB-2020 (1-855-562-2020) and select option 3; when prompted, enter your ZIP code to be routed to your area census office. You may also use the Federal Relay Service at 1-800-877-8339 for TTY/ASCII.

No. Employment is contingent upon successfully completing a background check, which includes providing fingerprints.

The employment confirmation letter you receive by email will contain a list of acceptable identification documents.

You will be turned away if you do not bring the proper identification described in the employment confirmation letter. 

Applicants will not receive a copy of their background check results. If the Census Bureau receives adverse information in your security package, you will be given an opportunity to address the matter.

 

Training

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Yes. You will be paid during training at a slightly lower rate than your regular hourly rate.

Rescheduling training is generally not possible. However, you can contact your area census office about rescheduling. Call 1-855-JOB-2020 (1-855-562-2020) and select option 3; when prompted, enter your ZIP code to be routed to your area census office. You may also use the Federal Relay Service at 1-800-877-8339 for TTY/ASCII.

Employees will be reimbursed for mileage, parking, tolls, or other related expenses to attend training. If employees are asked to travel and spend the night at a location for training, then they will be reimbursed for those related expenses as well.

You will receive an email with instructions on when and where training will be held and what to bring.

The position that you have been selected for will determine your time commitment for training. You should have received this information when you were offered the position or by email. If you did not, please contact your area census office for more information. Call 1-855-JOB-2020 (1-855-562-2020) and select option 3; when prompted, enter your ZIP code to be routed to your area census office. You may also use the Federal Relay Service at 1-800-877-8339 for TTY/ASCII.

Please contact your area census office for more information. Call 1-855-JOB-2020 (1-855-562-2020) and select option 3; when prompted, enter your ZIP code to be routed to your area census office. You may also use the Federal Relay Service at 1-800-877-8339 for TTY/ASCII.

If you do not complete the training, you will not receive a work assignment.

 

 

Ready to Apply?

Take the next step toward joining our team! Complete your application today.

 

 


The U.S. Census Bureau is an equal opportunity employer.