By Jon Delano

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — It’s a once-in-a-decade opportunity: the chance to work full or part-time for a short period as a U.S. Census taker.

And now because of a worker shortage, pay is going up dramatically.

A severe shortage of job applicants in this region has boosted the hourly pay of census takers by 25 to 30 percent.

“Right here in our Pittsburgh area, we have thousands of jobs to fill with local people filling well-paying, meaningful work,” Susan Licate, a media specialist with the U.S. Census Bureau, told KDKA money editor Jon Delano on Monday.

With the official 2020 Census to begin in mid-March, the Census Bureau is desperate for local help.

So it has hiked the hourly rate in Allegheny County by 27 percent from $18.50 an hour to $23.50 an hour.

Neighboring counties have seen similar increases.

So what does a Census taker do?

“You stop at the doorstep and ring the doorbell or knock on the door, and you ask those basic ten questions that are on the decennial Census form,” says Licate.

Delano: Do you only knock on the door if the household has not responded online?

Licate: That’s correct. It’s interesting to point out the timeline. Across the country, households will begin to receive their invitation to respond to the Census around March 12th.

For the first time, households will be invited to respond on-line to the Census or to call a special 800-number to respond by telephone.

Those who cannot or prefer not to do that will have the traditional Census-taker come to their door.

To be a census-taker, you must be a U.S. citizen, have a driver’s license, and undergo paid training.

As to where you work, that’s pretty much up to you.

“We want people to work where they are most comfortable,” says Licate.

You can also set your own hours, and the work is short-term, wrapping up by July at the latest.

To apply, head to the Census website.