States are hiring thousands of contract tracers for up to $30 an hour

AP Photo/Tony Dejak

Unemployment is at a historic high in the U.S., but there’s high demand for more workers in one job: contact tracer.

To help keep the public safe as businesses reopen and more people venture out, health experts are calling for states to hire more contact tracers, who are more formally known as disease intervention specialists. These public health workers interview people who have been diagnosed with COVID-19 and quickly track down those who have been in close contact with them to inform them that they have been exposed to the coronavirus so they can self-isolate, protect family members and stop the spread.

The job requires a bit of detective work and the ability to make a connection with someone over the phone. All of the information the tracer collects is managed on statewide computer databases to help find patterns — so you’ll need computer skills, too.

The John Hopkins Center for Health Security estimates that to stop the spread of the coronavirus, we need at least 100,000 people in this job around the country. And NPR reports that most states don’t have the number of workers they want in this role.


Apple and Google are working on contact tracing tools for our smartphones, but they’re not ready yet, and even when they are, they won’t replace disease intervention specialists.

“Contact tracing apps may complement human contact tracing and add efficiency, but they don’t replace all the things you can do training armies of contact tracers to be calling contacts and reaching out,” Roger Shapiro, a professor of medicine at the Harvard School of Public Health, told CBS News. “There are so many things that go into a call like that that helps someone understand the nature of the contact and what they should do about it if they get ill.”

AP Photo/Paul Sancya

According to The Penny Hoarder, qualified applicants with a high school diploma can earn between $15-$22 an hour. Applicants for managerial and training positions, which are usually for those with a college degree and public health experience, could earn $30 an hour.

The Penny Hoarder also notes that recruiters Applied Memetics, Contrace and Government Jobs are just a few of the places where you can look for a job as a contact tracer. Recruiters will filter applicants to the right health department for training. You can also search online for jobs specifically in your area.

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Marie Rossiter

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