What is a Contact Tracer?
Simply put, you're tracing any and all contacts an individual may have had with other people. Or — to get more in depth, Wikipedia defines contact tracing as, “the process of identification of persons who may have come into contact with an infected person (“contacts”) and subsequent collection of further information about these contacts. By tracing the contacts of infected individuals, testing them for infection, treating the infected and tracing their contacts in turn, public health aims to reduce infections in the population.”
Contact tracing has been used for years and years. But only recently, with the COVID 19 pandemic has it been thrown into the spotlight. Contact tracing can be invaluable for the control of and the eradication of infectious diseases.
So What Exactly Would You Be Doing as a Contact Tracer?
Contact Tracers spend their day talking to people. People from all walks of life. At times, the conversations can pertain to intimate, private information. So, discretion, policies and privacy laws must be something a contact tracer should abide by at all times.
Typically, scripted questions will be asked. And luckily, a lot of Contact Tracers can work right from home using a company's web-based client. They'll make calls through this client, submit the information from each call — and if needed, they can refer the person they have called to a local testing facility near them to get tested and give them instructions regarding quarantine.
Because you'll be talking to people all day, you'll need to have great interpersonal skills. Being professional and showing empathy is of utmost importance. Most times, this is stressful for the person you're calling. We're talking infectious disease and illness here! Imagine getting a call from a stranger saying that you might have been in contact with someone with Covid 19. Your heart would race and you would have a LOT of questions.
What Hours Do Contact Tracers Typically Work?
Because Contact Tracers are calling people at their home, they usually work a typical 8:00am to 5:00pm schedule Monday through Friday. During a crisis, say… like a pandemic, you can expect to work more hours. Time is of essence. So having dedicated workers willing to put in extra time when it's needed most is certainly something to expect.
But if you love the idea of not only working at home, but getting to work the perfect day time shift — this can be a very appealing option. But again, remember — you will be talking to strangers ALL DAY LONG. You need to enjoy talking to people. (Many companies hire workers with good people skills. If you want to learn more about other work at home companies hiring, check out my post, Online Customer Service Jobs – I've got a big list there.)
How Much Do Contact Tracers Get Paid?
Good news! These positions typically pay well. Anywhere from $17 an hour to $25 an hour. I'm going to take a guess here, but I think the higher end of this pay range is reserved for those with clinical medicine or public health experience. It's not required to get hired for most of these positions — but it would be such an added benefit for the company, I think they would compensate those with that experience at the higher end of the pay spectrum.
What are the Qualifications or Requirements?
Obviously, in order to do this job and to tap into the company's web-based client, you're going to need a computer. These days, you really need to have Windows 10 or Windows 11 and antivirus protection for a PC. For Macs, again – virus protection and at least OS X 10.13. A decent understanding of how a computer works is a given as well.
– A comfortable headset. Sure, you could probably hold a phone to your ear if you want to – but it's going to get old and uncomfortable real quick. There are many affordable headsets you can order from Amazon.
– Speak, write and read English. A second language could score you higher pay. So, mention it on your application if you are bilingual.
– Some companies will only require a high school diploma or equivalent.
Final Thoughts on Applying for a Job as a Contact Tracer
This job will not be a walk in the park. You're dealing with stressful interactions hour after hour, day after day. You'll need to be detail oriented when taking information and inputting that information. With any job, they are hiring you because they need you. You need to be dependable and show up for work each day. Because these are work at home positions, self-discipline and staying on task are going to need to be traits that come natural to you.
Who Hires Remote Contact Tracers?
Below, I have started a list of companies hiring contact tracers and offer remote positions. As I find more, I will add them.
Partners in Health
– They are headquartered in Boston, MA and is affiliate with Harvard Medical School.