Eligibility Interviewers, Government Programs

If you are looking for a steady job with decent pay, you may want to check out becoming an eligibility interviewer for government programs. The United States government provides many services for certain groups of people. These programs—including welfare, Social Security, unemployment benefits, and public housing—are funded through our taxes.

All applicants must prove eligibility to receive services from these programs. Eligibility interviewers assess the applicant’s need and qualifications for government programs. This may mean meeting with the applicant in person, but often an interview will happen over the phone when the applicant is available during work hours.

Here are some common questions about eligibility interviewer jobs:

  • What are the job tasks? For unemployment and other services, eligibility interviewers assess the needs of applicants, prepare case files, decide how much money (or benefits) each applicant should receive from the government, and follow up with approved recipients to make sure they are meeting eligibility requirements over time. For example, when someone files for unemployment, there are certain parameters they must meet. Once they qualify for unemployment benefits, they will also need to periodically prove they are actively looking for a job. This is when an eligibility interviewer comes in handy.
  • What education do I need? A high school diploma or its equivalent is preferred. Some types of eligibility interviewers may need higher education of some kind, whether an associate’s or bachelor’s degree, which shows that they have mastered skills like time management and note taking—both vitally important skills for eligibility interviewers.
  • What about training? The government trains eligibility interviewers on the job after the hiring process. Most interviewers study in a type of apprenticeship situation, where they go out with a more experienced eligibility interviewer to learn about the job during the first few weeks of training. The more experienced interviewer will model the correct protocol and techniques so that you will know how to handle interviews on your own. During training, you will also learn how to appropriately interact with program applicants, and how to handle difficult situations or people in a respectful and compassionate way without compromising eligibility protocol.
  • How can I best prepare for being an eligibility interviewer? Because eligibility interviewers work with people in a variety of situations and circumstances, to be a good eligibility interviewer you must have excellent communication skills, with the goal of working with the applicant to find the best solution for their needs. Because much of this communication may be done over the phone, you should consider going over your phone “presence” and customer service skills. You may also want to brush up on your basic math skills, as you may need to calculate the amount for which applicants are eligible. Good note-taking and clerical skills are also helpful.
  • What about the job outlook? This is a good time to be looking for an eligibility interviewer job—employment growth for eligibility interviewers is expected to increase at a rate of about 9 percent over the next decade. This is likely because the aging baby-boomer population has increased the need for government assistance through health care and other programs. More applications for aid mean that the government needs more eligibility interviewers. Keep an eye on your city, county, state, and federal government job boards for open interviewer positions.
  • What can I expect to earn? On average, full-time eligibility interviewers make about $39,000 a year. However, many eligibility interviewers work part-time hours and so don’t earn nearly this much. But with experience and skill, some full-time eligibility interviewers can eventually earn much more than the average.
  • What about career advancement? The skills you will use as an eligibility interviewer—customer service, note taking, investigative reporting, active listening, time management, and so on—translate well to other career paths. Having “eligibility interviewer” as a job title on your resume may open professional doors into social service jobs, government and politics, or even journalism.