It turned out there was an exam scheduled at the local library for today (January 7th) – which was perfect: it is walking distance from our house, and was scheduled for a time that could work for both of us (even if it meant going to work a little late). I was surprised there was an opportunity so quickly; it seems as though there are many testing times available.
We got to the testing site at 9:20 for a 9:30 exam, but it didn’t start right away. Being the government there were many sets of paperwork to fill out – including an official application and an I-9 form which requires several versions of official ID. We also had to look up our neighborhood code (more specific than a zipcode) to help them determine where we would be working. They really try to place you as locally as possible – it’s easier for you, and cheaper for them (less mileage reimbursement).
There were four other applicants, the two of us, and one administrator. After everyone completed the proper paperwork we began the test. It is a 28 question multiple choice test that covers everything from solving math problems, to data analysis, to map reading. You are given 30 minutes, a scrap paper, and a sharp pencil to complete the exam.
The test isn’t very hard but not super easy either – there are many things you have to think about a few times to be sure you are getting the right answer and that you fully understand what they are asking, and some of the math is a nice refresher since you are not able to use a calculator (multiplying decimals for example with pen and paper, simple, but its been a while) – most of it can be reasoned out through logic.
At the end of the exam the moderator grades them right away. We didn’t have time to wait for the results, but you can stay and see your score if you are interested. Then we were given a pamphlet explaining “what happens next”.
So what should we expect now?
If we passed the exam we will undergo a background check to make sure there aren’t any skeletons or felonies in our closets. Then we will be given a phone interview, and finally we will be trained. The training is paid, and there are schedules either during the day, or at night and on weekends, in order to accommodate a variety of schedules.
Census jobs emphasize that the hours are not regular – so this could be a great opportunity to have side income during times that you normally aren’t working at your full time job if employed. You need to be available when people are normally home – so before and after working hours, and on the weekends.
Here is a 2010 Census practice test. The 2010 practice test is from the official Census Office, but I found it very closely matched to the test we took.
So now we wait to see if we are offered a position…