Become a Mail Carrier: Education and Career Roadmap

Learn the steps for becoming a mail carrier. Explore the education and application requirements for starting a career as a mail carrier and advancing in the United States Postal Service.

Should I Become 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.

Career Requirements

Education Level High school diploma
Key Skills Customer service; detail-oriented; strong work ethic; physical stamina
Licensure/Certification Postal exam; driver's license with safe driving record; criminal background check and drug test; US citizenship
Salary (2014) $57,200 (Median salary for Postal Service Mail Carriers)

Sources: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics; 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. High school graduates under the age of 18 are also eligible for a mail carrier position. According to the U.S.P.S., applicants must have a basic competency in English.

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 will 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.

Step 4: Pursue Further Training

The USPS offers several career advancement programs for mail careers, 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. As a mail career, route preferences are awarded on a seniority basis.

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