Postal service workers sell postal products and collect, sort, and deliver mail.
What they do
Postal service workers typically do the following:
- Collect letters and parcels
- Sort incoming letters and parcels
- Sell stamps and other postal products
- Get customer signatures for registered, certified, and insured mail
- Operate various types of postal equipment
- Distribute incoming mail from postal trucks
Postal service workers receive and process mail for delivery to homes, businesses, and post office boxes. Workers are classified based on the type of work they perform.
The following are examples of types of postal service workers:
Postal service clerks sell stamps, money orders, postal stationery, mailing envelopes, and boxes in post offices throughout the country. These workers register, certify, and ensure mail, calculate and collect postage, and answer questions about other postal matters. They also may help sort mail.
Postal service mail carriers deliver mail to homes and businesses in cities, towns, and rural areas. Most travel established routes, delivering and collecting mail. Mail carriers cover their routes by foot, vehicle, or a combination of both. Some mail carriers collect money for postage due. Others, particularly in rural areas, sell postal products, such as stamps and money orders. All mail carriers must be able to answer customers’ questions about postal regulations and services and, upon request, provide change-of-address cards and other postal forms.
Postal service mail sorters, processors, and processing machine operators prepare incoming and outgoing mail for distribution at post offices and mail processing centers. They load and unload postal trucks and move mail around processing centers. They also operate and adjust mail processing and sorting machinery.
Postal service clerks and mail sorters, processors, and processing machine operators work indoors, typically in a post office. Mail carriers mostly work outdoors, delivering mail in all kinds of weather. Although mail carriers face many natural hazards, such as extreme temperatures and wet or icy roads and sidewalks, the work is not especially dangerous. However, repetitive stress injuries from lifting and bending may occur.
Most postal service workers are employed full time. However, overtime is sometimes required, particularly during the holiday season. Because mail is delivered 6 days a week, many postal service workers must work on Saturdays. Some also work on Sundays.
How to become a Postal Service Worker
All postal service worker applicants must pass a written exam. The exam covers four areas: address cross comparison, forms completion, memory and coding, and personal characteristics and experience. Jobseekers should contact the post office or mail processing center where they want to work to find out when exams are given.
Postal service mail carriers must be at least 18 years old, or 16 years old with a high school diploma. They must be U.S. citizens or have permanent resident-alien status. Males must have registered with the Selective Service when they reached age 18.
When accepted, applicants must undergo a criminal background check and pass a physical exam and a drug test. Applicants also may be asked to show that they can lift and handle heavy mail sacks. Mail carriers who drive at work must have a safe driving record, and applicants must receive a passing grade on a road test.
Most postal service workers have a high school diploma. All applicants must have a good command of English.
Newly hired postal service workers receive short-term on-the-job training, usually lasting less than 1 month. Those who have a mail route may initially work alongside an experienced carrier.
The median annual wage for postal service workers was $52,060 in May 2019. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $36,990, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $64,420.
Overall employment of postal service workers is projected to decline 14 percent from 2019 to 2029. Automated sorting systems, cluster mailboxes, and tight budgets are expected to adversely affect employment. Employment changes, however, will vary by specialty.
Similar Job Titles
Bulk Mail Technician, Clerk, Distribution Clerk, Part Time Flexible Clerk (PTF Clerk), Postal Clerk, Sales & Service Associate (SSA), Sales and Distribution Clerk, Sales and Service Associate (SSA), Window Clerk, Window/Distribution Clerk
City Carrier, City Carrier Assistant (CCA), City Letter Carrier, City Mail Carrier, Letter Carrier, Mail Carrier, Rural Carrier, Rural Carrier Associate (RCA), Rural Mail Carrier, Rural Route Carrier
Postal service mail sorters, processors, and processing machine operators:
Automation Clerk, Computer Forwarding System Markup Clerk (CFS Markup Clerk), Distribution Clerk, Flat Sorting Machine Clerk (FSM Clerk), Mail Handler, Mail Handler Equipment Operator, Mail Processing Clerk, Mail Processor, Parcel Post Distribution Machine Operator (PDPMO), Small Package and Bundle Sorter Clerk (SPBS Clerk)
Pharmacy Aide, Gaming Change Person and Booth Carrier, Gaming Cage Worker, Teller, Hotel/Motel and Resort Desk Clerk
Baggage Porter and Bellhop, Courier and Messenger, Postal Service Mail Sorter/Processor and Processing Machine Operator, Light Truck or Delivery Services Driver, Refuse and Recyclable Material Collector
Postal service mail sorters, processors, and processing machine operators:
Mail Clerk and Mail Machine Operator (except Postal Service) Coil Winder/Taper and Finisher, Print Binding and Finishing Worker, Laundry and Dry-Cleaning Worker, Shoe and Leather Worker and Repairer
The trade associations listed below represent organizations made up of people (members) who work and promote advancement in the field. Members are very interested in telling others about their work and about careers in those areas. As well, trade associations provide opportunities for organizational networking and learning more about the field’s trends and directions.
- American Postal Workers Union, AFL-CIO
- Association for Postal Commerce
- National Postal Mail Handlers Union
- United Postmasters and Managers of America
- National Association of Letter Carriers
- National Rural Letter Carriers' Association
Magazines and Publications
Developments in technology and the growth of alternative delivery systems have shrunk demand for U.S. mail services, but despite fewer job openings than in past years, a great many people are still needed to run the U.S. Postal Service. Postmasters and mail superintendents lead operations of post offices and manage workers. They supervise mail processing, resolve customer complaints, and handle typical management duties such as hiring, training staff, and setting schedules. Mail sorters, processors and processing machine operators prepare incoming and outgoing mail for distribution. They sort and route mail to its destination, either by hand, or using machinery, including forklifts and automated conveyors to move large sacks of mail or unload trucks. Sorters and processors make sure the correct postage has been used, and keep records of mail shipments. Mail carriers represent the largest group of postal service employees. They typically sort mail and arrange it in order of their delivery route, then deliver the mail on foot, or by car. They also collect mail and deliver it to the post office. Mail carriers answer customers’ questions, provide forms, and keep an eye out for unusual circumstances on their route. Postal service clerks sell products, including postage stamps and money orders. They weigh packages and mailers, apply correct postage, collect money from customers, and advise them on mailing methods. There are also mail clerks and mail machine operators who work for private organizations. They prepare outgoing mail, and handle incoming mail. They wrap and weigh packages, and transfer containers of mail. Mail-related occupations typically require a high school diploma. Management and supervision level positions require related work experience. Mail carriers must be able to lift and carry heavy mailbags, and walk across a variety of surfaces in all types of weather conditions. They also encounter hazards such as traffic and animals.
Content retrieved from: US Bureau of Labor Statistics-OOH www.bls.gov/ooh,
CareerOneStop www.careeronestop.org, O*Net Online www.onetonline.org