Essential Facts About Mail Carriers Jobs

U.S. Postal Service carrier Ron Comly carries parcel packages to a home while delivering mail along his postal route December 17, 2003 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. December 17 is expected to be the busiest delivery day for the U.S. Postal Service.
William Thomas Cain/Getty Images

“Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds.” That is the motto of the US Postal Service, right? Wrong. It was written by the Greek historian Herodotus about the courier service of the ancient Persian Empire. The quotation is inscribed on the James A. Farley Post Office Building in New York City, so the confusion is understandable.

But if you are driven to meet that lofty expectation, then a career with the Postal Service may be for you. Mail carriers are the people primarily responsible for delivery of mail processed by the Postal Service. They are federal employees that must meet strict standards in order to be hired.

Who Is Eligible for Employment

Postal employment is limited to United States citizens, citizens of United States territories and lawful permanent resident aliens. The Postal Service does not employ individuals who are only granted asylum, refugee or conditional permanent resident status.

What You'll Do All Day

The primary duties for mail carriers include:

  • Sorting mail at a post office
  • Delivering and collecting mail along a route
  • Collecting money for cash-on-delivery and postage due mail
  • Obtaining signatures for registered, certified and insured mail
  • Answering questions from customers about Postal Service procedures

    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 walk their routes. Carriers on suburban and rural routes tend to drive their routes.

    Mail carriers must perform repetitive tasks such as sorting mail that can result in injury.

    They must also be able to lift heavy mail sacks. Medical assessments are performed on job candidates to ensure that they can meet the physical rigors of the job.

    Education

    Candidate hired by the Postal Service must be at least 18 years old or 16 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 ability to quickly and accurately check names and numbers.

    Salary

    According to data from the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average salary for mail carriers was $56,790 as of 2016. You can earn a bit more, too.

    The Postal Service pays overtime for hours worked beyond eight in one day or 40 in one week. Employees working nights and Sundays can earn higher than the normal rate for the day shift.

    How to Get Started

    If you think a career as a mail carrier may be right for you, visit the US Postal Service's Careers page. You can find more information about working for the Postal Service, current openings and the online application process.

    As part of the online application process, candidates are required to take an exam. It is comprised of several sections that assess an applicant's personality, attention to detail and memory.

    It also has a section on post office procedures where applicants have the procedures available while they answer the questions.