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Earn $8-$12+ an hour as a Telephone Data Collector for Westat

Earn $$ as a Telephone Data Collector for Westat

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Westat provides virtual work at home jobs to people who are experienced in customer service or call center jobs.

That's the line anyway, but let me tell you that when I worked for this company a few years back, the only real work at home experience I had under my belt was working for West at Home ( now Alorica).

It's all about being clever on your resume and playing up the experience that you do have.  But, I digress!

This company conducts studies, collects research data and performs surveys for their clients who happen to include agencies of the U.S. government, universities, foundations, businesses and local and state governments.

If you wish to work for this company from the comfort of your own home, then you may want to look into applying for a position as an at-home telephone data collector.

Working in this position, you'll be placing outbound calls to pre-screened respondents and asking them if they would be willing to volunteer their time to complete a survey for a government agency, university or business.

You'll be following a script designed by the particular agency or business you are doing the study for.

Since they pour a lot of time and effort into getting the script just right , Westat wants you to follow the script verbatim.

Following the script verbatim may seem a little odd at first but it is actually written in a way to get more affirmative responses to your request for the respondent's time.

Not following the script often can lead to reprimands or even dismissal, because they are very adamant that their message and their surveys come across they way they are designed to, no ad libbing.

Most of the respondents that you'll be calling will have already been sent a letter asking for their participation.

In many cases, the respondent is even paid a small amount (about $10.00) to complete the survey.  That helps a lot in getting  some positive responses.

An insider's view into working for Westat.

 Although you are not selling anything, the challenge with this job is to use your skills of persuasion to try to convince respondents to take a survey by telling them of the study's importance and how it can affect their community!

Having worked for Westat before, let me put your mind at ease by telling you that this is actually less challenging than it sounds.

The study I was working on was a study that was being conducted by the U.S. Department of Transportation in an effort to change traffic patterns and public transportation for the betterment of certain communities in the U.S.

Many times, once I explained the nature of the study or survey, many people were happy to help!


Working for Westat, you will work as an employee of the company which means that that you do not have to worry about deducting your own payroll taxes; that will be done for you.

Pay is $8.25 an hour. However, if you are bilingual (speak spanish), you can expect to make an additional $2.00 more per hour

Also, when you work after 9 p.m., or on weekends, you will also make $2.00 more per hour.

Being that I was bilingual and I mostly worked evenings, I made $12.25 an hour. Not bad at all for a virtual job.

Now for the real nitty gritty....

... When you are hired to work for Westat, you will be assigned to a "project".   That just means that every study they do is considered its own unique project.

You can work more than one project at a time. Projects have a start and end date.

To give you an example, the project I worked on for the U.S. Department of Transportation lasted for approximately two years.

When a project is close to being completed, Westat will inform their employees of the end date so that agents are aware and can prepare.

Many times, Westat will try to immediately find a new project for these agents so that there is not a huge interruption in pay for these agents.

However, it has recently been reported that many agents have spent months waiting for a new project.

My suggestion is to not count on Westat as your primary source of income (if you are looking for steady virtual work at home jobs) but instead to have it as a side job. Or perhaps it can be a great part time job for stay at home moms or retirees who are looking for a little extra income.


The company is flexible in terms of scheduling. Usually, they require that their agents submit a schedule of availability for each day of the week.

Make sure you carefully choose which hours you are able to work and how many hours you are available to work because the company will select a schedule for you based on what you have chosen.

Another words, don't select a schedule of 40 hours when you can realistically only work 20.

As an example, when I was working for Westat, I had a little one in preschool Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays and so that was the perfect time to try to fit in a few hours to work. The schedule I submitted to the scheduling department was as follows:

Monday: 10 am- 12pm and 9 pm - 11 pm

Tuesday: 9 pm - 11 pm

Wednesday: 10 am - 12 pm and 9 pm - 11 pm

Thursday: 9 pm - 11 pm

Friday: 10 am - 12 pm and 9 pm -11 pm

Saturday: 9 pm - 11 pm

That was an 18 hour workweek and it was very doable (for me) with my other responsibilities (being a mom, wife, running a household...).

So, Westat only scheduled me to work during those times and it worked out great.

The bad news? I have heard recently that this method of scheduling hours has changed.

You can still submit your availablity but it is harder to get hours. Apparently, the schedule is released at an unannounced time, during which there is a mad dash to get the hours you are desiring. I have not confirmed this, but once I find out more information, I will post it here.

The Work environment...

Westat is a very hands on company when it comes to their employees.

When you are hired, you will be assigned a "mentor" with whom you will meet with weekly.

During your session with him/her, you are encouraged to ask any questions or request any assistance you may need.

This is also a time when your mentor can go over your work week evaluation with you and make sure that you are following all the company guidelines and meeting certain milestones.

While this may sound a little intimidating, let me tell you that I always thoroughly enjoyed my time with my mentor.

She was always encouraging, warm, open to any suggestions or questions that I may have had and very knowledgeable about the job.

As she did, many mentors usually start out as telephone data collectors, so they understand and can empathize with the job you are performing.

I would say that your mentor will be (and should be) your biggest cheerleader and defender.

You can also expect to be assigned "team leaders" who will listen to your calls and give you feedback and assistance if needed.

You can request a team leader to listen in on a call that you are on if the customer is being difficult or if they have questions that you do not know how to answer.

They can be a great asset to your experience with Westat if you remain open to the process, keep a great attitude and are willing to learn.

Be prepare to get a lot of feedback, as your calls will be listened to regularly, in real time.

Most of the time, the feedback is very positive , as in my experience, it was when I worked there. Remember that they truly want this study to succeed and so , they want you to succeed!

Despite all this, it may be challenging at times to get feedback that is not positive, especially if you feel you are doing your best.

My advice is, don't be afraid to (respectfully and with professionalism) ask the questions you need to ask until you get clarification on the issue.

And if that doesn't work, go to your mentor.  Remember, they are your advocate, they are there to help you and be in your corner.

I can honestly say that:

I had a wonderful experience with this company and I am so glad that I had the pleasure of working there. My project came to an end and I moved on but if I can state that it was an interesting and well paying work at home job.

To find out more information about Westat or to apply, please click here

When you arrive at the website, find the box that asks for which location you are interested in, DO NOT choose your city, instead select " US Home Based Telephone Work".

Then go to the next box, labeled Career Area, select "telephone data collection".

Then you can conduct a search to see which at home jobs are available.

Good luck!


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