Talk about perfect timing; just as the nation's unemployment rate skyrockets, the U.S. Census Bureau begins staffing up for the 2010 nose count. If you have a curious nature and a desire to make some extra coin in 2009 and beyond, the Bureau is accepting applications now.

As a census taker, you'll work as part of a small team assigned to an area in your own community, where you'll be expected to knock on doors and gather the info that the government, and thousands of companies, depend on for their marketing, services and federal dollar allocations. The hours will be somewhat flexible, and in most cases, you'll need a vehicle and a valid driver's license.

The pay varies a great deal depending on the region. For a ballpark figure, the Bureau tells me that Alaskans can receive anywhere from $11-$21 per hour plus mileage. Other jobs in regional offices may also be available.

The Bureau makes a point of encouraging retirees and students. Applicants must be 18 or older, U.S. citizens with a Social Security number, and speak and write English. Where bilingual speakers are needed, non-citizens here on appropriate work visas that have the needed skills may also be hired. Applicants must pass a written test and will be subjected to a background check.

If you decide to cash in on this opportunity, don't waste time; early groundwork for the project is scheduled to begin this spring. To apply, call the toll-free Jobs line at 1-866-861-2010 to schedule a test; for TTY users, the number is 1-800-877-8339. You can also download an application here.

The Census Bureau isn't the only government entity hiring, either. The FBI is looking to fill 3,000 job openings, and in a number of states, the sudden increase in applicants for unemployment assistance has them scrambling for help.


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