How to Get a U.S. Postal Job

by Robert Morello
Mail carriers munust dergo training at the carrier academy before they can deliver any mail.

Mail carriers munust dergo training at the carrier academy before they can deliver any mail.

The U.S. Postal Service (USPS) has a wide variety of career and temporary positions open to applicants around the country. Since these positions are federal government jobs, there are a number of procedures that must be navigated during the application process. Once you use the USPS Careers website to find the opening you want in the location you prefer, you will have to meet certain qualifications to land the job.

Mail Handler

Sign up for and take Postal Service Exam 473 to be considered for an open entry- level postal position such as mail handler, carrier or clerk. In order to pass, you must demonstrate good memorization skills and the ability to organize random data into clear categories. Once your test score is tallied, you will be placed onto a list of candidates based on your score and veterans credits. When your name is reached, you will be called in for an interview before a hiring decision is made.

Be prepared to lift heavy parcels and tubs of mail on a regular basis as a mail handler. You will be asked to place unsorted mail into the appropriate routes and stations based on addresses and mail types. You may work in a large sorting facility where mail is funneled out to smaller post offices for delivery. You may also work in a post office sorting that same mail by route for delivery by individual carriers.

Be prepared to perform duties other than mail handling, such as clean-up tasks, loading and unloading trucks, moving skids and other large containers and operating dangerous machinery such as automatic sorting machines. To work for in the USPS as a mail handler, you must be able to work in dusty, warm and/or cold conditions and be able to handle a large volume of items in a short time, efficiently and with as few errors as possible. Errors are costly and delay the delivery of the mail, which can cause you to lose your position.


Prepare yourself for the two main parts of the carrier's work day by getting in shape and wearing the most supportive and comfortable footwear you can. The first part of the day consists of slotting mail and packages into order and the second involves the delivery of that same mail. Since carriers are on their feet from 7 a.m. until at least 4 p.m. each day, they must be able to walk and stand without pain or the job can become impossible.

Study maps of the area where you will be working to learn the street patterns and addresses. When you begin work as a carrier the mail, it's helpful to be able to visualize the routes you set up and deliver. This helps to avoid confusion and delays in delivery once you get out into the street.

Be prepared to wear rubber or latex gloves on a regular basis to protect your hands from cuts, dryness and dirt. Hone your organization skills so you can load your mail cart and relay bags with ease so your mail is in the proper order and without error when it comes time to deliver. Get yourself mentally ready for long days of physically and mentally demanding work that is repetitive yet requires constant attention to detail and a fair amount of decision-making skills.


Establish and develop your customer-service skills. You will likely deal with dozens of customers every day, assisting them with mailing items, packing parcels, printing money orders, applying for passports and selling retail items like stamps and packaging. Develop a positive and friendly approach to customer service so you will be successful dealing with consumers and your supervisors.

Be prepared to be held responsible for large quantities of cash and valuables, government documents and traceable items like registered and certified mail. You will be responsible for everything you handle throughout the day so it is imperative that you prepare yourself to remain attentive and focused on the task at hand. If errors do occur, your supervisors will not hesitate to ask questions and investigate.

Study USPS procedures to ensure that you are able to perform your duties according to code and so that if and when mistakes happen, your actions will minimize the impact of those mistakes and enable a quick and easy remedy. Familiarize yourself with every type of situation that may arise in the course of a normal day at work and you will be less likely to be caught off guard and without recourse.


  • Open any email you receive from the Postal Service career division immediately. Most correspondences come with a strict deadline and must be acted upon in relatively short order or the opportunity will be lost. You may be asked to take a test before the application process continues. In other instances, you may have to appear for an interview or screening session. In either case, follow up promptly and perform the required tasks to remain a candidate.


  • After you've received your employment contract from the USPS, you will be asked to attend training sessions and you must pass a series of tests based on your position. Missing these sessions or failing to pass any of these tests will result in your dismissal.


About the Author

Robert Morello has an extensive travel, marketing and business background. He graduated with a Bachelor of Arts from Columbia University in 2002 and has worked in travel as a guide, corporate senior marketing and product manager and travel consultant/expert. Morello is a professional writer and adjunct professor of travel and tourism.

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