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Career Spotlight: Jobs at the U.S. Census Bureau

How A Sociology Degree Can Prepare You For A Career at the U.S. Census Bureau


The United States Census Bureau’s mission is to serve as the leading source of quality data about the nation's people and economy. Their goal is to provide the best mix of timeliness, relevancy, quality, and cost for the data it collects and the services it provides. While the U.S. Census Bureau is headquartered in Maryland, they have local and regional offices located throughout the country.

Roles of the U.S. Census Bureau

The most widely known of those services is the population and housing census, conducted every ten years. During this census, which is mandated by Article I, section 2 of the U.S. Constitution, every resident in the United States is counted. The data is used to determine the number of seats each state has in the U.S. House of Representatives and also to distribute billion of dollars in federal funds to local communities.

The U.S. Census Bureau also conducts an economic census every five years, which provides a detailed portrait of the United States’ economy at the time, from the national to the local level. The Census of Governments is also conducted every five years. This census identifies the scope and nature of the nation's state and local government sector; provides authoritative benchmark figures of public finance and public employment; classifies local government organizations, powers, and activities; and measures federal, state, and local fiscal relationships.

Another service of the U.S. Census Bureau is the American Community Survey, which is conducted annually. This survey gives communities the current information they need to plan investments and services. Information from this survey generates data that help determine how more than $400 billion in federal and state funds are distributed each year.

Finally, the U.S. Census Bureau is responsible for conducting several other surveys, including those from organization like the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the Social Security Administration, the National Science Foundation, and the National Center for Health Statistics, to name a few.

Sociologists Working at the U.S. Census Bureau

Sociology majors are usually required to take at least one statistics course throughout their coursework. For those that enjoy statistics and take more than the one required course, working at the U.S. Census Bureau is one good option for employment.

Statisticians at the Census Bureau work with a variety of different data. The data that is collected falls into two main categories: Economics or Social Science/Demographics. Sociologists who enjoy statistics and working with data are perfect candidates for Social Science or Demographic Statisticians.

Social Science and Demographic Statisticians are responsible for designing, managing and analyzing national and international surveys and studies that supply the official population and housing statistics that Congress, state and local government, other Federal agencies and businesses want. Topics studied include: population size and distribution, income and poverty, employment and unemployment, family and fertility, health and disability, and housing and neighborhood characteristics.

Specific job duties include:

  • Creating the official national statistics on population trends
  • Managing and designing sample surveys
  • Designing questionnaires
  • Collecting, analyzing, and reporting data
  • Writing reports that influence policy
  • Reporting to Congress, other Federal agencies and the President
  • Provide international technical assistance on census, survey and population analysis.


Candidates interested in the statistician position should have at least 15 semester or 22 quarter hours in mathematics or statistics plus 9 hours in social science, business, or related classes.


The salary for Statisticians at the U.S. Census Bureau varies depending on the Grade of the position, which is based on the candidates education, skills, and experience. Statisticians in a Grade 5 position, for example, can expect to make around $35,000 per year while those in a Grade 12 position could make up to $97,000 per year.

Search for sociology careers in your area.


U.S. Census Bureau Website. (2011). http://www.census.gov/aboutus/

U.S. Census Bureau Human Resources Website. (2011). http://www.census.gov/hrd/www/index.html

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