The U.S. Postal Service delivers billions of pieces of mail each week in all types of weather. Postal employment is over 700,000 employees operating 37,000 Post Offices and over 200,000 vehicles. Postal jobs involve processing, sorting, and delivering mail and packages as well as providing customer service and supplies in post offices. Most Postal Service workers are mail carriers, clerks, or mail sorters and processors. Postal clerks wait on customers at post offices, whereas mail sorters, processors, and processing machine operators sort incoming and outgoing mail. Mail carriers deliver mail to over 140 million addresses throughout the United States.
Major postal careers are described in more detail below:
Postal Positions - Postal Carrier
Description: Delivers and collects mail on foot or by vehicle providing customer service in a prescribed area, outdoors in all types of weather. Carriers may be required to carry mailbags on their shoulders. A mailbag full of mail can weigh up to 35 pounds. Carriers have to load and unload trays and containers of mail and parcels weighing up to 70 pounds. Carrier duties require prolonged standing, walking, and reaching. City carrier applicants must have a current valid state driver’s license, a safe driving record, and at least two years of documented driving experience.
After the mail has been processed and sorted, Postal Service mail carriers deliver mail, to residences and businesses in cities, towns, and rural areas. Carriers are classified as either city or rural, depending on their type of route, but both types share similar duties. In the early morning, mail carriers arrange their mail in delivery sequence at the Post Office. The mail carriers then travel established routes, delivering and collecting mail by either foot, vehicle or a combination of both. Mail carriers also collect money for postage-due and COD fees and obtain signed receipts for registered mail. At the end of their routes, mail carriers return to the post office and turn in their collected mail, receipts, and money collected during the day.
Rural carriers perform similar duties to city carriers, but also provide a wider range of postal services such as selling stamps and registering parcels and letters. Both city and rural carriers provide a high level of customer service including answering customers’ questions about postal regulations and services and providing change-of-address cards and other postal forms when requested.
Postal Salary: In May 2006, the median annual salary of Postal Service mail carriers was $44,350. Earnings ranged from $40,290 to $48,400 for the middle 50 percent. The top 10 percent of Postal Service mail carriers earned more than $50,830.
Postal Exam: 473-C - prepare for this exam here.
Postal Positions - Mail Processing Clerk
Description: Postal Service mail processors prepare mail for distribution at post offices and at mail processing centers. Mail processing clerks may also be referred to as mail handlers, distribution clerks, or mail processors. They operate and monitor automated mail processing equipment and manually sort mail. They also load and unload postal trucks and move mail with forklifts, small electric tractors, or hand-pushed carts.
Postal Salary: In 2006, the median annual salary of Postal Service mail processors was $43,900. Earnings ranged from $40,350 to $47,440 for the middle 50 percent. The top 10 percent of mail sorters and processors earned more than $49,570.
Postal Exam: 473 - prepare for this exam here.
Postal Positions - Postal Clerk
Description: The Postal Services employs many associates who provide sales, customer service and distribution services. These associates provide direct sales and customer support services in a retail environment and perform mail distribution. Postal Service clerks sell stamps, money orders, postal stationery, and mailing envelopes and boxes in post offices. Postal clerks also weigh packages to determine postage and check that packages are in appropriate condition for mailing. These clerks register, certify, and insure mail and answer questions about postage rates, post office boxes, and mailing restrictions.
Postal Salary: In 2006 the median annual salary of Postal Service clerks was $44,800. Earnings ranged from $41,720 to $47,890 for the middle 50 percent. The top 10 percent earned more than $49,750.
Postal Exam: 473 - prepare for this exam here.
Postal Application - How to find openings:
Postal Job Requirements:
- Age Requirement: Candidates must be 18 years old or 16 years old with a high school diploma.
- Citizenship: Employees must be a United States citizen, a lawful permanent resident alien (i.e., possession of a “green card”), or a citizen of American Samoa or any other territory owing permanent allegiance to the United States.
- Language: Candidates must posses a basic competency in English.
- Selective Service: Males born after 12/ 31/ 59 must be registered with the Selective Service System.
- Employment History: Applicants must provide a ten year employment history or back to their 16th birthday.
- Military Service: Military service is treated as prior employment. Veterans must indicate service and submit Copy 4 of the DD Form 214, Certificate of Release or Discharge from Active Duty.
- Criminal History: Criminal checks are required prior to employment. Drug Screen: A successful passing of an urinalysis drug screen is required for postal employment.
- Health Assessment: A health assessment is conducted to determine medical suitability for a specific position.
- Safe Driving Record: A safe driving record is required for employees who drive at work (e.g., city carriers and motor vehicle operators).
Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2008-09 Edition, Postal Service Workers, on the Internet at http://www.bls.gov/oco/ocos141.htm
United States Postal Service, www.usps.com/employment