Postal Service Worker / Mail Carrier

How to Become a Postal Service Worker
Postal Service Worker / Mail Carrier Job Duties
Skills and Qualities of a Postal Service Worker
Postal Service Worker Salary
Influential Postal Service Professionals
Leading Organizations in this Field
Top Cities for Postal Service Jobs
Other Careers of Interest

How to become a Postal Service Worker

Entrance to postal mail carrier work begins with a postal service examination. As the number of applicants who pass exceeds the number of positions available, the examinations may not be given that often and one can wait for up to two years to be offered a job. No specific pre-hire training or education path exists, but all postal employees must be able to speak English. More experienced workers provide on the-job training to the newly hired. All postal employees must be at least 18 and either be US citizens or have permanent resident alien status. Male employees have to be registered with the Selective Service (the Draft) upon their eighteenth birthday. The qualifying examination tests how quickly and accurately a potential worker can read and retain text and memorize mail distribution procedures. With one exception, the names of the examinees are sorted by the scores on the test. The exception is that all veterans, with honorable discharges, receive five extra points and those who were wounded in combat or disabled, receive ten extra points. The hiring officer chooses between the top three scores on the list when a vacancy occurs. Those not hired will remain on the list to be considered for future vacancies until the list loses eligibility, usually after two years. Prospective postal workers have to pass a drug test and physical examination and they might be asked to lift bags of letters weighing 70pounds. As mail delivery involves driving, prospective mail carriers will be tested for driving skills and have to have a driver's license and blemish free driving record. Generally, postal workers start working part-time or with flexible hours. They move to full time as vacancies occur, assuming they have seniority and their performance meets expectations. Seniority refers to assignments being given to those employed for the longest time. As seniority increases, postal service mail carriers can obtain more preferred routes. Some postal service workers advance to supervisory positions on a competitive, rather than seniority basis.

What does a Postal Service Worker do?

Postal service clerks, postal service processors and postal service mail carriers form the three branches of the service. Clerks work behind counters in post offices, much like retail sales clerks. Processors sort and prepare mail for distribution and mail carriers deliver and collect mail. The US has 80,000 clerks, 338,000 mail carriers and 198,000 mail processors, most employed full-time. There are three time classifications, casual, part-time flexible and part-time regular. The Post Office hires casual postal workers for 90days at a time, during high volume mail periods, like winter holidays or low staffing periods, such as summer vacation time. Part-time or flexible staff lack steady work, but are employed as the need arises, in a similar way to substitute teachers or other temporary workers. Part-time regular workers have a schedule of less than 40hours per week. Postal mail carriers are the people you see delivering your mail and collecting it from mailboxes. Generally, they work on established routes, sometimes for long periods of time. While urban mail carrier use postal vehicles, rural mail carriers generally use their own vehicles. In addition to delivering mail, postal service mail carriers collect money from Cash on Delivery and postage-due mailings. They have the responsibility to collect signatures for certified, registered and insured mail. Some rural mail carriers may take on other roles, with their vehicle becoming a post office on wheels. For example, selling stamps to residents in rural and remote areas. Postal mail carriers begin work quite early, sometimes as early as 4:00am and in urban areas they frequently work overtime. They work outside throughout the year, subject to overzealous guard dogs and all types of bad weather. They may suffer from repetitive motion injuries, caused by overuse of specific muscles used in a particular manner that is part of their job.

What skills or qualities do I need to become a Postal Service Worker?

Postal service mail carriers must be good drivers and in all their dealings with the public they need to be courteous, patient, tactful and possess good interpersonal skills.

How much does a Postal Service Worker make?

If the annual salaries of all postal mail carriers were arranged from the lowest to the highest, the median would be that point at which 50% of the salaries were lower and 50% were higher, however, most salaries differ somewhat from the median. The best estimate of a potential salary for an occupation lies in the range between the 25th percentile and the 75th percentile, known as the middle 50% of salaries. The 25th percentile is the point at which 25% of salaries are below and the 75th percentile is the point at which 75% of all salaries are below. The median income for postal service mail carriers in May 2007 was $44,500. The middle 50% of postal service mail carriers in May 2007 ranged from $40,410 to $48,590.

Who are some influential professionals in this field?

William H. Young, President of National Association of Letter Carriers, worked on the overhaul of the grievance-arbitration process to increase its efficiency and fairness. Young serves as a Vice-President of the AFL-CIO and as Vice-President of the Muscular Dystrophy Association. He is also on the advisory board of the Walter P. Reuther Library of Labor and Urban Affairs at Wayne State University in Detroit. William Burrus, the first African-American President of the American Postal Workers Union, sits on the AFL-CIO Executive Council.

What are some leading organizations in this field?

The American Postal Workers Union (APWU) is the largest union for postal workers in the world (, with 330,000 United States Postal Service worker and retirees and 2,000 private sector postal workers. It represents postal clerks and workers in the Maintenance and Motor Vehicle Services. The National Association of Letter Carriers ( is the second largest postal union representing 222,000 postal service urban mail carriers. This Union has an official charity, the Muscular Dystrophy Association. The National Rural Letter Carriers Association ( represents rural postal mail carriers.

What are the top cities for Postal Service jobs?

The need to replace retiring postal workers will drive increased demand for postal employment, but for the present, major growth is not expected. Employment of postal service mail carriers is expected to grow by only 1% and indications point to increased competition for postal service jobs in the future. For postal service mail carriers the cities with the top three job vacancies are New York, Chicago and Anaheim.

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