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Mail Carrier: Job Outlook & Career Information

While educational requirements for mail carriers do not include anything more than a high school diploma, a high score on the postal service competency exam can help to improve an applicant's chance of being selected. Read on for more information about useful skills, employment outlook and earnings for mail carriers.

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Career Definition for a Mail Carrier

U.S. Postal Service mail carriers are responsible for collecting route-sorted mail from the local post office, putting the mail in delivery sequence and distributing the mail to the correct urban or rural mailbox. They also collect monies for postage-due and cash-on-delivery fees. Additional responsibilities include obtaining signed receipts for certified and registered mail and collecting outgoing mail.

Required Education No specific education requirements; must be 18 years of age and achieve a passing score on a postal service exam
Skills Required Command of the English language, physical strength and stamina, interpersonal skills
Median Annual Salary (2017)* $57,000
Job Outlook (2016-2026)* -12%

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Required Education

There are no specific education requirements for becoming a U.S. mail carrier, but applicants must be 18 years of age and successfully pass a postal service exam that measures accuracy and speed when scanning names and addresses, as well as memorize procedures. Appointing officers select one of the top three applicants for further consideration. Extra points are awarded for veterans and for disabled veterans. A valid driver's license, a good driving record and a passing score on a road test are also required.

Skills Required

Applicants for U.S. mail carrier positions must have a good command of the English language and be able to lift up to 70 pounds. Candidates must also be drug free. Good interpersonal skills are necessary when dealing directly with clients on the mail route.

Career and Salary Outlook

The U.S. Postal Service employed 316,700 mail carriers in 2016, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The number of positions is expected to drop significantly between 2016 and 2026, with an overall 12% decrease in employment projected. Competition for mail carrier jobs is expected to be high, since positions usually open only upon retirement of current mail carriers. The BLS reported that the median annual salary for mail carriers was $57,000 as of May 2017.

Alternate Career Options

Some skills necessary to become a mail carrier will prepare you for jobs in other areas, such as the following:

Delivery Truck Drivers and Driver/Sales Workers

Delivery truck drivers and sales workers are responsible for transporting merchandise and minor shipments from regional distribution centers to companies and residences. In 2016, they were employed by retail and wholesale trade industries or courier services, as reported by the BLS. A high school diploma or its equivalent and a driver's license are required in order to obtain a position, after which candidates train on the job for a period of up to one month.

As reported by the BLS, job opportunities for delivery service or light truck drivers are expected to increase by a slower-than-average rate of 4% between 2016 and 2026. In May 2017, driver and sales workers earned a median annual salary of $24,040, while light truck and delivery services drivers were paid a median wage of $31,450 per year.

Retail Sales Workers

Retail sales workers sell a variety of consumer goods and products, including cars, clothes and furniture. Formal education is not necessarily required; high school graduates may be preferred. The majority of retail salespersons train on the job, which can take place over a few days or months. According to the BLS, employment of retail sales workers is expected to increase by 2% between 2016 and 2026, which is slower than average for all other occupations. As of May 2017, retail salespersons received a median annual salary of $23,370.

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