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Become a Mail Carrier: Education and Career Roadmap

Learn the steps for becoming a mail carrier. Research the education and career requirements and experience required for starting a career as a mail carrier.

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Do I Want to Be a Mail Carrier?

Mail carriers retrieve and deliver mail to homes and businesses. Some 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, and letters and packages may be delivered by foot or vehicles. Walked routes may be tiring, and mail must be delivered in all sorts of weather conditions.

Job Requirements

No formal education, beyond a high school diploma, is required to become a mail carrier; however, individuals must be U.S. citizens. Prospective U.S. Postal Service (U.S.P.S.) workers must pass an exam and meet certain physical and strength requirements. The table below includes the requirements to become a mail carrier.

Common Requirements
Degree Level High school diploma*
Key Skills Strong customer service skills, detail-oriented work ethic, physical stamina*
Additional requirements Driver's license, safe driving record, criminal background check and drug test**

Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS); **U.S. Postal Service.

Step 1: Graduate from High School

In order to become a postal worker, individuals need to have a high school diploma. If someone is under the age of 18 and has already graduated from high school, he or she is eligible for a mail carrier position. According to the U.S.P.S., applicants must have a basic competency in English, so focusing on reading and writing classes while in school will be beneficial.

Success Tip:

  • Get in shape before applying to the U.S.P.S. According to the BLS, applicants must be able to demonstrate their ability to lift 50 pounds and walk for an entire shift without injuring themselves. Developing a physical fitness routine may be beneficial while in school or before applying.

Step 2: Take the Postal Exam

The U.S.P.S. 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 two hours and 15 minutes long.

Success Tip:

  • Take practice test and utilize study materials. The U.S.P.S. offers numerous practice tests that aspiring mail carriers can take advantage of before taking the exam. A study guide is also available in order to prep for the exam.

Step 3: Complete the Interview Process

In order to ensure that applicants are qualified to work for the U.S.P.S., 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 applicants questions. The final phase is an opportunity for the applicants to ask the interviewer questions.

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Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics