This is all it takes to be a mail carrier. Becoming a mail carrier can be a good choice for someone beginning a first career or changing careers later in life. In general, these positions require little to no education or previous experience while offering excellent compensation and benefits.
The exact job description, requirements, application, and pre-employment screening process for a mail carrier will vary depending on location. However, jobreaders.org has provided some general steps you will need to take to become a mail carrier.
Who is a mail carrier?
Mail carriers are primarily responsible for collecting and delivering mail processed by the US Postal Service (USPS). They are federal employees who must meet up with strict standards to be hired.
Mail carriers retrieve and deliver mail to homes and businesses. Most carriers may be required to have certain packages signed for by addressees, distribute incoming mail, and sort letters and packages.
Career opportunities vary from large cities to rural locations. Letters and packages may be delivered on foot or using vehicles. Walked routes may be tiring, and mail must be delivered in all sorts of weather conditions
Mail carriers must be citizens of the United States, have a driver’s license and a safe driving record, and pass a criminal background check. Mail carriers need good customer service skills and physical stamina. They should also be detail-oriented and have a strong work ethic.
According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), postal service mail carriers can expect a 20% decrease in employment from 2018 to 2028. As of May 2019, the median annual salary for a postal service mail carrier was $51,310.
USPS mail carriers deliver mail to homes and businesses in cities, towns, and rural areas.
They travel planned routes, collecting and delivering mail, obtaining signatures, and answering customer questions about postal regulations and services.
Mail may be delivered on foot or by a mail truck, depending on the location. Delivery occurs regardless of the weather, although schedules may be delayed.
What does it take to be a mail carrier?
In these sections, we’ll take a look at some of the educational and hiring steps you’ll need to follow to become a mail carrier.
Mail Carrier Duties & Responsibilities
The primary duties for mail carriers include:
- Sorting and preparing mail at the post office
- Delivering and collecting mail along a designated route
- Collecting money for cash-on-delivery and postage-due mail
- Obtaining signatures for registered, certified, and insured mail
- Answering questions from customers about USPS procedures and services
Mail carriers must perform repetitive tasks, such as sorting and delivering mail, that can result in injury. They must be able to lift heavy mail sacks, as well as deliver mail in all kinds of weather. Medical assessments are performed on job candidates to ensure that they can meet the physical rigors of the job.
Mail Carrier Salary
Mail carriers’ salaries vary according to the frequency of their shifts, as employees who work nights and Sundays can earn higher than the normal rate for the day shift. Besides, the USPS pays overtime for hours worked beyond eight in one day or 40 in one week.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics provides a classification for postal workers, which includes mail carriers, as earning the following:
Median Annual Salary: $57,260 ($27.53/hour)
Top 10% Annual Salary: $59,860 ($28.78/hour)
Bottom 10% Annual Salary: $33,430 ($16.07/hour)
Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2017
Education, Training, & Certification
A candidate hired by the USPS must be at least 18 years old or 16 years old with a high school diploma.
College degrees are not required for mail carriers; however, applicants must pass an exam that tests knowledge of mail distribution procedures and the ability to quickly and accurately check names and numbers.
Postal employment is limited to U.S. citizens, citizens of U.S. territories, and lawful permanent resident aliens. The USPS does not employ individuals who are only granted asylum, refugee, or conditional permanent resident status.
When accepted, applicants must undergo a criminal background check and pass a physical exam and a drug test. Applicants must also have a safe driving record.
Carriers are expected to conduct themselves professionally and efficiently. A basic familiarity with local geography is a necessity. Knowledge of basic postal laws, regulations, and products is also required.
Mail Carrier Skills & Competencies
Mail carriers should have the following skills and qualities to perform their job properly:
- Interpersonal skills: To interact with the public in a friendly, professional manner
- Organization and efficiency: To ensure that the proper mail is collected and delivered on time to the public
- Honesty and reliability: To ensure that mail containing personal information or money is delivered unopened and undamaged to the intended parties
- Physical strength and endurance: To carry heavy mail sacks and parcels for deliveries, and drive for long periods
- Mail carriers should understand the responsibility with which they are entrusted and perform their duties accurately and professionally.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the employment of USPS mail carriers is expected to decline 12% to 2026.
Automation of the mail sorting process reduces the amount of time that carriers spend on mail sorting. Therefore, mail carriers will have time to expand their routes, which will reduce the need to hire more carriers.
Much of a mail carrier’s time is spent outside of the post office, where weather conditions can be a factor in executing job duties.
Urban routes often require carriers to deliver mail by foot, while carriers working in suburban and rural routes drive to mail delivery points.
Most USPS workers are employed full-time. However, overtime is sometimes required, particularly during the holiday season. Because mail is delivered six days a week, many USPS workers work on Saturdays. Some may also work on Sundays.
What are the steps required for a mail carrier?
Step 1: High School Diploma
Mail carriers need to have a high school diploma. High school graduates under the age of 18 are also eligible for a mail carrier position. According to the United States Postal Service (USPS), applicants must also have a basic competency in English.
According to the BLS, applicants must demonstrate their ability to lift 50 pounds and walk for an entire shift without injuring themselves. Developing a physical fitness routine will be beneficial while still in school or before applying.
Success Tip: Get in shape before applying to the USPS
Related Post: High school diploma online free schools in 2020
Step 2: Postal Exam
The USPS requires that applicants pass the 473 Postal Exam. This is a written exam that tests applicants in four different areas, including address cross-comparison, forms completion, memory and coding, and personal characteristics and experience. This exam is about 2 hours and 15 minutes long.
The USPS offers numerous practice tests that aspiring mail carriers can take advantage of before sitting down for the actual exam. A study guide is also available that can help applicants prep for the test.
Success Tip: Take practice tests and utilize study materials
Step 3: Interview Process
To ensure that applicants are qualified to work for the USPS, the organization requires them to go through an interview process. High-scoring applicants are invited to participate in an interview process to ensure they are right for the job.
The interview consists of three parts: an introductory, middle, and final phase. The introductory phase includes the greeting and small talk, while the middle phase is the time when the interviewer asks the applicant questions. The final phase is an opportunity for the applicant to ask the interviewer questions.
Step 4: Further Training
The USPS offers several career advancement programs including a supervisory training program, a managerial leadership program, and an advanced managerial program.
Once mail carriers finish these programs, they can advance into field supervision or managerial and planning positions. Mail carriers should be aware in advance that route preferences are awarded on a seniority basis.
Let’s review. Requirements for USPS mail carriers include a high school diploma, a clean criminal background check, and driving record, and proof of US citizenship. They must also pass the 473 postal exams and go on an interview.
How to Get the Job
Steps to consider before applying for a job
Below are steps to follow before considering applying for a job as a mail carrier.
1. Decide if being a mail carrier is right for you: Before beginning the application process, you will need to figure out if you would be happy as a letter carrier. Like all jobs, this will depend on your personality, lifestyle, and skill set.
- The happiest and most effective letter carriers will be “morning people.” Most postal carriers start their day at 7 am and finish around 3 pm. If you’re an early-riser who would like to avoid rush-hour traffic, you may be an excellent fit.
- The typical workday for most mail carriers is a physically strenuous one. Your job will likely consist of a lot of walking and lifting heavy objects. If you do not enjoy physical activity or you have health problems that would make these tasks difficult or impossible, you would probably be better suited for a different job.
- Unless you live in a dense urban center, you will need to be a skilled driver. The mail needs to be delivered no matter the road conditions. If you are prone to traffic accidents or you find driving to be stressful, this may not be the right career for you.
2. Look for open letter carrier positions in your area: While these jobs used to be listed at the local post office, most countries now use online application systems. Simply visit the appropriate website and use the search function to find jobs near your home.
- The United States Postal Service (USPS), Canada Post, and Australia Post all list available positions on the organizations’ websites under “Careers” or “About Us.”
- While most Royal Mail positions in the UK are posted on the company’s website, others are posted elsewhere. Use both the Royal Mail’s webpage under “Careers” and the government-sponsored website Universal Jobmatch to search for open positions.
3. Determine if you meet the job requirements: In general, letter carriers will have qualifications based on levels of physical fitness, driving record, and reading ability.
- The USPS requires that all applicants must be citizens or legal residents of the United States and either at least 18 years old, or 16 with a high school diploma. Carriers may also be required to lift to 70 lbs (about 32 kilos) and have a safe driving record, depending on the position. Successful applicants must also pass a criminal background check, drug screening, medical assessment, and aptitude test specific for letter carriers called Exam 473. Preferential selection will be given to veterans of the US armed forces.
- Canada Post requests that all applicants must be able to lift packages weighing up to 22.7 kilos (50 lbs), carry loads up to 15.9 kilos (35 lbs), and climb stairs in inclement weather. They must also have a valid driver’s license with a three-year satisfactory safe driving record. Applicants will also be evaluated based on their organizational and customer service skills.
- Australia Post has different job requirements for different types of “postal delivery officer” dependent on the specific mode of transportation used, including walking. In general, all must be able to lift and carry up to 16 kilos (roughly 35 lbs) and have excellent interpersonal communication skills.
- Letter carriers in the UK are generally required to lift to 16 kilos (roughly 35 lbs) and pass an aptitude test. When applying for a delivery driver position, the applicant must have the full UK driving license with no more than 6 penalty points.
4. Gather necessary documentation: You will need information about past employment and education records. You will also need to have relevant government identification numbers, such as your social security number if you live in the US, and your driver’s license is required.
- In the US, to claim veteran’s preference, you must have a digital copy of your Certificate of Release or Discharge from Active Duty or other proof of past service.
5. Complete the online application: Set aside enough time to finish it without distractions. Find a quiet place and a compatible Internet browser in which to fill out the online employment application. Not all browser versions are supported.
If you’re having difficulty getting a webpage to display correctly, try viewing it on a different browser. For most application websites, Java scripting must be enabled.
If you think a career as a mail carrier may be right for you, visit the USPS Careers page. You can find more information about working for the USPS, current openings, and the online application process.
As part of the online application process, candidates are required to take an exam. It comprises several sections that assess an applicant’s personality, attention to detail, and memory.
It also has a section on post office procedures, for which applicants have the list of procedures at hand while they answer the questions.