How to Become a Mail Carrier - Job Description, Requirements & Salary

Always wanted to be bring people their mail? Read on to learn about the education requirements, the job duties, the median wages and the job description of a postal service mail carrier. Schools offering Public Administration degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Career Information at a Glance

Mail carriers sort incoming letters and packages and deliver them to the customers on their route. They'll also pick up parcels and letters from customers and take them to the local postal processing center to be sent on their way. Postal service mail carriers do not need a college degree; a high school diploma is sufficient. For a quick overview of the career, see the table below.

Degree Required High school diploma or equivalent
Training Required On-the-job training
Key Skills Customer service, physical fitness
Job Growth (2016-2026) -12%*
Median Salary (2017) $57,000 per year*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Do Mail Carriers Do?

Postal service mail carriers handle incoming mail and make sure it's sorted properly before delivering it to homes and business in the area, usually on a predetermined route. They'll get signatures for mail that requires it, collect outgoing mail and drop it off at the local processing center. They may complete their route by vehicle, on foot or some combination of the two. Some carriers in rural areas also sell stamps and other mailing supplies.

How Do You Become a Mail Carrier?

According to the United States Postal Service, applicants for a mail carrier position must be 18 years of age, have a high school diploma and be registered for selective service (where applicable). The USPS will do a background check, a medical assessment and a drug screening, along with a check of the candidate's driving record. If you meet all of these requirements, you'll be eligible to take the USPS's test 473.

What is Test 473 for Mail Carriers?

Anyone applying for a mail carrier position with the USPS will be required to take test 473. Test 473 covers a range of topics that a mail carrier would need to know to carry out their job. That includes checking addresses, completing forms, memory and some personal questions about how the candidate would handle the day-to-day responsibilities of a mail carrier. The postal service requires a minimum score of 70 on test 473. Failing it will remove you from consideration from the position, while a passing score will move you further along in the hiring process.

How Much Do Mail Carriers Make?

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the median salary for a postal service mail carrier in May 2017 was $57,000. This field has a wide salary range though, with most carriers earning between $33,000 and $61,000

What's the Job Outlook for Mail Carriers?

Thanks to a tightened budget, more automation and an overall decline in people using the mail system, postal service jobs in general are expected to drop by 13% between 2016 and 2026, according to the BLS. For mail carriers, the decline is only slightly less -- 12%.

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