Mail Handler: Career Info and Requirements for Becoming a Mail Handler

Apr 15, 2019

Read on to learn what mail handlers do. See what kind of training is required for employment. Get the details about career prospects and earning potential to see if this job is right for you.

Career Definition for a Mail Handler

The two most visible U.S. Postal Service jobs are postal clerks and mail carriers, but everything that happens to a piece of mail between drop-off and delivery is the responsibility of behind-the-scenes mail handlers. Their tasks include loading and unloading mail trucks, running mail through canceling and sorting machinery, preparing large batches of mail for transport to other post offices and distribution of every route's presorted mail to mail carriers. The work can be grueling, strenuous, repetitive, and require long hours standing up. Since mail is processed 24/7, mail handlers may have to work night, evening or weekend shifts.

Education Requirements None required; on-the-job training provided
Skill Requirements The ability to complete physically demanding tasks
Career Outlook (2016 to 2026)* 13% decline for postal service workers
Median Annual Salary (2018)* $58,770 for mail sorters, processors and processing machine operators

Source: *U. S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Required Education and Training

No minimum education is required, but mail handlers should have good command of the English language and be able to demonstrate speed and accuracy at checking names and numbers. Mail handlers, like all USPS job applicants, are required to pass a postal service exam, and even the highest scorers may have to wait for years before a position opens up. Newly hired mail handlers are typically trained on-the-job by fellow workers.

Required Skills

Mail handlers must be U.S. citizens, at least 18 years of age, and registered with the Selective Service if applicable. Postal Service employees need to be in good health, able to withstand the physical challenges of the work, and drug-free for the duration of their employment.

Employment Outlook

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS),, mail sorters, processors, and processing machine operators earned a median salary of $58,770 as of May 2018. The number of jobs for postal service workers is predicted to face rapid decline of 13% between 2016 and 2026, due to the continued improvement of sorting machinery as well as the increased use of online technology for bill paying and correspondence. Mail handlers may benefit from membership in the American Postal Workers Union or the National Postal Mail Handlers Union.

Alternative Career Options

Related careers include:

Retail Sales Worker

Retail sales workers greet customers and assist them in making purchasing decisions. Duties can include answering questions, making recommendations, and performing product demonstrations. These workers also handle payment for purchases, whether it's a cash or credit card transaction. Retail sales workers also stock and arrange merchandise, fill displays, follow loss prevention procedures, and count out cash register drawers at the beginning or end of a shift or workday. There are no standard education requirements for employment; however, some employers require a high school diploma. On-the-job training is common. Jobs in this field are expected to increase by 2% from 2016 to 2026, per the BLS. The median salary for retail sales workers was $24,340 in 2018; many of these workers are part-time, and the median hourly was $11.70 that same year.

Delivery Truck Driver

Delivery truck drivers use trucks of 26,000-pound gross vehicle weight (GVW) capacity or less to pick up and drop off parcels locally. They figure out routes, keep track of any paperwork associated with deliveries, and record their mileage. Employment typically requires a high school diploma and a driver's license; on-the-job training is common. Delivery truck drivers are expected to operate their vehicles lawfully at all times. The BLS predicts that jobs for delivery truck drivers and driver/sales workers will increase 4% from 2016 to 2026; delivery services drivers earned median pay of $32,810 in 2018.

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