what does a contact tracer do?

  • job profiles
  • September 02, 2020

Contact tracers have been much in the news of late, so you’ve probably heard of them: viral sleuths who are using the latest digital tools — together with some old-fashioned outreach — to fight against COVID-19 and finally reduce the number of new infections. But what are the core responsibilities of these so-called contact tracers? What kinds of things are they doing day in and day out?

  • closely collaborating with the case investigators and public health departments/officials while working in a call center environment
  • identifying and reaching out to people who have come into contact with newly diagnosed COVID-19 cases
  • providing guidance and information to contacts in a professional and empathetic manner
  • maintaining emotional and cultural awareness during sensitive conversations
  • compiling records and other information about reported symptoms and needs, typically using an electronic database
  • supporting contacts of infected persons who have tested positive for COVID-19 with accurate information, including social distancing protocols and next steps around isolation and quarantine procedures
  • referring contacts to testing centers based on established protocols
  • suggesting social support resources
  • explaining signs and symptoms of COVID-19
  • escalating issues or challenges whenever appropriate

Does that sound like you? If so, read on to get additional insights into all the essentials of this exciting and highly in-demand role.

what are the key skills of a contact tracer?

Contact tracers are forced to wear a lot of different hats when they’re on the job. But setting aside data-entry and the other technical aspects of the role, success as a contact tracer depends heavily on a host of key soft skills, such as:

  • collaboration
  • empathy
  • relationship-building
  • emotional intelligence (EQ)
  • active listening
  • verbal and written communication
  • interpersonal skills
  • time management
  • organization
  • multitasking
  • meeting deadlines
  • strategic thinking
  • troubleshooting
  • safety mindset

Spotlighting these qualities on your resume is a surefire way to bolster your candidacy.

how much do contact tracers make?

Looking at the latest data, average hourly wages for contact tracers can be bucketed into three tiers, largely depending on your location, market, responsibilities, background and relative level of expertise:

  • low $12.58
  • mid $17.30
  • high $30.00

In terms of average annual salaries, on the other hand, contract traces should expect something in the following range:

  • low $23,492
  • mid $28,224
  • high $39,801

As you can see, hourly wages for contact tracers can vary quite considerably. Obviously, that might be frustrating for some job seekers. So if you want more nuanced insights, head on over to our salary comparison tool. It’s free and easy to use.

how do you become a contact tracer?

Contact tracing is an emerging field, so the requirements, skills and background for the role have been rapidly evolving. That said, a few common requirements for contact tracers include:

  • high school diploma or equivalent
  • 18 years of age or older
  • ability to speak, read and write English clearly and concisely (fluency in a second or multiple languages is a huge plus, too)
  • ability to pass a background check (not always required)
  • access to reliable telephone, computer (with up-to-date security and antivirus software installed) wireless internet (WiFi) and other electronic equipment

Eager to break into this emerging field? Check out all of the contact tracing coursework that’s available on Udemy, our learning partner and the world's largest online learning platform. Especially if you aren’t sure how to get your foot in the door, this is a great way to get started.

key takeaways

Hopefully, this article has answered some of your bigger questions about what becoming a contact tracer entails — including the next step in your journey. Simply to recap, so far we’ve covered:

  • what contact tracers do day in and day out on the job
  • what types of training and previous experience makes for success as a contact tracer
  • essential skills for success
  • salary expectations for administrative assistants
  • … and a whole lot more!

To help you get started and build your career, search for contact tracer jobs with Randstad today.