In the next decade, United States Postal Service mail carrier jobs are projected to remain level. This can be attributed in large part to the increasing popularity of the internet. E-mails have replaced many types of personal and business mail. Digital signatures are considered binding in most circumstances.
Currently, there are a little less than 400,000 postal service mail carriers working in the United States. Job candidates must pass an exam. It is not unusual for those who have passed to wait anywhere from one to two years before becoming hired.
Postal service mail carriers deliver letters, small packages, magazines, advertising circulars and the like to private homes as well as businesses, and collect outgoing mail. Carriers need to arrive at the post office very early in order to organize mail in the order in which it will be delivered. Innovations in automation have reduced a portion of this task. Time that is saved in the first step allows more time on the route, which means fewer carriers can deliver more mail.
Some carriers deliver using a car or truck. Others walk, carrying a large mailbag that can be extremely heavy, or they might push the mail on a cart. In cities, the postal service provides delivery trucks for carrier use. Carriers in rural areas drive their own vehicles and receive reimbursement for the miles used. Carriers might deliver to mailboxes at the road, to large buildings with many mailboxes, or through slots in individual residences. They are also responsible for taking money on packages that were sent cash-on-delivery, and signatures for certified, registered, or insured mail. If the addressee isn’t available to sign for a package, the carrier leaves information about where it will be held for pick up. A carrier does not return to the post office until all mail has been delivered. At the post office, the carrier turns in outgoing mail and gives signed receipts and cash to the appropriate person. Rural carriers may be given tasks that are taken care of within a city post office. They might sell money orders, insure packages, and sell stamps.
Carrying mail requires stamina and some strength, in addition to working very early hours and sometimes, exceptionally long days. Extremely hot or cold weather, slick roads, falling, or being bitten by dogs can make this work more dangerous than other jobs. In addition to these extremes, repetitive movements and carrying heavy loads can cause injury to bones and muscle.
New carriers receive on-the-job instruction which can include classroom training about safety. Carriers must be 18 years old or older, citizens, or permanent resident-aliens, and, if male, have registered with the Selective Service. They are required to pass written tests for the ability to quickly and accurately organize mail by name or number as well as to memorize the process of mail distribution. Honorably discharged veterans are given five additional points. Those who have been wounded or have become disabled are given ten. Vacancies are filled by selecting one of the top three test results. Other names stay on the list until they expire, two years post-exam. A criminal-history review, physical examination, good driving record, and drug test are additional requirements.
Some postal service mail carriers begin with part-time or flex-time and move into full time when a vacancy becomes available. Some are hired at peak seasons for a 90 day period. Transitional carriers are hired for a year. Part-time and flex-time carriers are called as needed. Regular part- time means fewer than 40 hours, but the hours are consistent.
The median annual salary of Postal Service mail carriers is approximately $50,000. Those at the low end earned less than $38,000, while those at the high end earned more than $53,000. There are a number of postal service benefits provided as well, including insurances and vacation time. Most carriers belong to the National Association of Letter Carriers and the National Rural Letter Carriers Association.