Postal Inspector Jobs: Requirements, Outlook and Duties

Learn about the education and preparation needed to become a postal inspector. Get a quick view of the requirements as well as details about schooling, training, job duties and experience to find out if this is the career for you.

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Postal inspectors must meet physical, age and legal requirements, such as passing a drug screening test and possessing a criminal record that is free of misdemeanors and felonies. They must also hold a four-year degree and complete specific training for this career.

Essential Information

Postal inspectors are federal law enforcement agents who enforce laws within the U.S. Postal Service. They investigate criminal matters, such as mail fraud or theft, and they perform audits when necessary. Postal inspectors must have a bachelor's degree. Candidates with previous postal experience or military experience are well-qualified for the position. Candidates must also complete Residential Basic Inspector Training.

Required Education Bachelor's degree
Other Requirements Complete Residential Basic Inspector Training
Projected Job Growth Dependent on vacancies available in the U.S. Postal Service
Average Salary (2016) $42,823-$80,731*

Source: U.S. Postal Inspection Services*

Job Requirements

To become a postal inspector, candidates must be U.S. citizens between the ages of 21 and 36.5 years when beginning their appointment. Applicants must have received at least a 4-year degree from an accredited college or university. They must meet physical requirements, including height and weight standards, and pass visual, hearing and drug screening tests.

Candidates must not have any misdemeanor or felony convictions, including those related to domestic violence. Prospective postal inspectors need to possess a current and valid state driver's license, and the license must have been held for at least two years. Applicants must be able to write and speak English proficiently. Relocation is also a requirement of this position.

Education and Training Requirements

The U.S. Postal Service (USPS) requires postal inspector candidates to hold a bachelor's degree from an accredited college or university. Candidates with foreign language skills, former postal experience or non-postal specialized experience like military service, law enforcement, bioterrorism investigation, accounting or computer training are considered more desirable. Applicants must also have worked full time for at least one year within the same company within two years of their application date.

In addition, candidates are required to successfully complete the Residential Basic Inspector Training program located in Potomac, Maryland. This program includes techniques in investigation and administration, firearms training, defensive strategies, physical conditioning and practical scenarios.

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Salary Info and Job Outlook

According to the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, postal inspectors are paid according to the U.S. government's General Schedule pay scale for law enforcement officers. The base entry-level salary ranged from $42,823 to $80,731per year in 2016. Compensation can vary, depending upon several factors, including locality.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics (BLS), federal law enforcement jobs are competitive. Job candidates who are bilingual, have a bachelor's degree and previous law enforcement or military experience should have the best employment opportunities.

The BLS also points out that although job opportunities in federal law enforcement are expected to grow as fast as average, government spending determines the level of employment for police officers, detectives and special agents. Therefore, job opportunities vary from year to year and by location. Recent budgetary constraints at the USPS may impact job opportunities for postal inspectors.

Job Duties

Postal inspectors are responsible for investigating all instances of criminal, civil and administrative violations of postal-related laws. These investigations may involve fraud, theft or instances of internal mismanagement. Inspectors execute search warrants, serve subpoenas and collect evidence. Often, inspectors are responsible for preparing court reports and testifying in court trials.

Inspectors may also work in laboratories with forensic scientists to help screen the mail for potential dangers. These screening methods are used to locate biological, chemical and explosive threats. Using forensics and advanced criminal technologies, inspectors also attempt to provide postal customers protection from identity theft and consumer fraud.

Postal inspectors investigate violations of postal-related laws, such as fraud or theft, and screen mail for potential dangers. They need to complete the Residential Basic Inspector Training, which covers topics such as investigative techniques, firearms training and practical scenarios. They also need to hold a bachelor's degree and meet various age and legal requirements.

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