At one point or another, most people need to go to the post office. Maybe they need to buy stamps or mail a package. Maybe somebody mailed them a package and they weren’t home when it arrived, so they had to pick it up later at the post office. In any case, post offices and their staff are part of our lives, and one of the most important employees of the United States Postal Service is the Postal Service clerk.
What are the job duties? Postal Service clerks attend to the needs of all the people who come through the post office doors, helping them to accomplish whatever postal task they need. The Postal Service clerk is the person who sits behind the counter at the post office to sell stamps, mail envelopes and boxes, certify mail, and answer questions. They are the customer service branch of the post office, and often help to clear up confusion or frustration about mail delivery.
What are the requirements? Postal clerks are employees of the U.S. federal government and are responsible for the safety of all American citizens and institutions. Because of this, there are quite a few requirements to becoming a postal clerk. You need to be at least 18 years old and a citizen of the United States (or have been granted permanent resident-alien status in the U.S.). Before being hired, you would need to pass a Postal Service clerk exam. And if you are male, you will need to have registered with the Selective Service after your eighteenth birthday (all men over the age of 18 are required to register with the Selective Service so that the military has a database of everyone eligible to serve in a war, should the draft be reinstated).
In addition to these requirements, you will also need to pass a background check (for criminal history), a drug test, and a medical assessment. And you should be able to speak clear English so that you can easily communicate with your customers.
What about earnings and benefits? As employees of the government, postal clerks receive great pay and benefits. The average income for a Postal Service clerk is about $51,000 a year, with full health benefits under the Federal Employees Health Benefits (FEHB) Program in addition to retirement and life insurance. Most Postal Service clerks receive extra compensation for overtime and nights, and there are 10 paid holidays a year.
What is the job outlook? Unfortunately, employment of Postal Service clerks is expected to decline rapidly, at a rate of about 18 percent over the next decade. While postal services will always remain a necessity for certain industries and items, email and other forms of electronic communication have edged out regular mail and have led to a loss of USPS revenue and less need for Postal Service clerks. With banks and many utility companies offering online bill pay and account management, fewer people are using first-class mail.
How can I find a job? First of all, you need to check your resume and make sure that you meet all the eligibility requirements. Second, your resume should show that you go the extra mile. In addition to fluency in English, are you bilingual? Have you served in the military in the past, and are you in good standing? What do you bring to the table that other applicants may not? Competition for Postal Service clerk jobs is fierce—many applicants are attracted to the high pay and benefits, but there are fewer job openings available, so you will need to boost your resume by drawing attention to your unique skills.