- The different types of post office jobs available
- Eligibility requirements to work at the post office
- An overview of the exam required
- What to expect during the hiring process
If you’re an independent and self-motivated individual seeking a stable federal government job with good pay and benefits, you’ll want to consider a career with the United States Postal Service.
With nearly half a million employees, the USPS is the second-largest employer in the country. It’s easy to see why so many people want to work for the federal agency. The median annual wage for USPS employees is about $52,000.
In addition to a competitive base salary (and the option of both full-time and part-time work), the benefits are generous: multiple health insurance plans to choose from, life insurance, retirement and savings options, vacation and paid sick leave, qualifying relocation benefits, and education assistance for those who qualify.
Regardless of your skill set, background, or interest, the USPS offers a range of positions from delivery and operations to corporate office jobs.
When you think of working for the USPS, you likely conjure an image of a mail carrier delivering letters and packages to homes. While there are certainly carrier positions available, there are many more options to choose from — especially in the modern post office. Here are some of the positions you might see available through the USPS.
The post office has a fleet of motor vehicles for deliveries and transporting mail from one distribution center to another. As an automotive mechanic, you’ll diagnose problems with these vehicles and perform repairs or routine maintenance as needed.
This is similar to an automotive mechanic, but you’ll be responsible for more complex repairs and diagnosing problems using computerized testing equipment.
As a city carrier or city carrier assistant, you’ll be assigned to an area of a city. There, you’d be required to deliver and collect mail on foot or by vehicle. You’d need to be prepared for various road and weather conditions as well.
If you’d prefer to go the corporate route, the USPS offers opportunities in many areas including accounting, business, finance, logistics, marketing, sales, and human resources.
In this role, you’ll be responsible for maintaining USPS offices and buildings. Manual labor duties will vary based on your location.
This hands-on position oversees mail processing operations to ensure they’re meeting nationwide standards and policies. You will also have the opportunity to find ways to improve post office processes, which could save money and offer a better experience to those shipping through the agency.
In this role, your job duties will be related to mail processing. This includes loading, unloading, and moving bulk mail.
As the mail processing clerk, you will use various processes — both automated and manual — to sort and distribute the mail as it comes in.
As part of the United States Postal Inspection Service (USPIS), postal inspectors are federal law enforcement agents. In this role, you’d investigate violations of mail-related law at all levels: criminal, civil, and administrative.
These uniformed officers also fall under the USPIS. As a postal police officer, your main focus would be on-site security of USPS buildings, personnel, property, mail, and mail in transit.
Similar to a city carrier, rural carriers deliver and collect mail, but along a rural route. Since homes, businesses, and mailboxes are more spread out in rural areas, you’d be more likely to use a vehicle while traveling your route. You might also provide additional services to the customers you encounter on your route including allowing customers to buy stamps, mail packages, buy money orders, or send specific types of mail that they’d otherwise have to go to the post office for.
You will be the face people see at the post office, handling distribution, customer support services for post office products, and sales. Good customer service is a must for this role.
As a heavy-duty tractor-trailer operator, you’ll help the mail get from one post office facility to another. This could mean within the confines of a city, regional travel, or longer trips.
Now that you know some of your job options through the USPS, here are some things you need to know before applying.
There are some basic eligibility requirements for all positions through the U.S. Postal Service. You must be 18 years old at the time you’re hired or 16 years old with a high school diploma.
You’ll also need to be a U.S. citizen, permanent resident, or citizen of a U.S. territory.
If the position you’re applying for requires it — likely any automotive mechanic or technician roles, carriers, or tractor-trailer operator positions — you’ll need to have a driver’s license and exhibit a safe driving record. Also, if applicable to the position for which you’re applying, you may be required to register with the Selective Service.
Once you get through the hiring process, you’ll need to pass a criminal background check, drug test, and medical assessment.
Keep in mind that there’s an additional residency requirement for all positions. A background check involves a five-year inquiry for any location where you’ve lived. If you’ve lived outside the U.S. in the previous five years, you could be considered ineligible for hire because they can’t complete the background check.
Before applying for a post office job, you’ll need to visit the USPS careers website and create an account. You’ll need to complete your profile before you can apply. The system will walk you through this process, moving you from one section to the next.
Once your profile is complete, you’re ready to search for open positions and apply. By clicking on “Search Now,” you’ll be taken to a screen where you can plug in a keyword, location, or area of work to see what jobs are available.
If you choose to apply to an open position, review the specific requirements to ensure your background and skills match. When applying, you’ll be asked to complete a “Summary of Accomplishments” section. The USPS suggests that you also write about how your previous experience makes you a match for this role in a separate document that you can attach to your application. It’s also suggested that you attach a current resume.
There are various virtual entry assessments for different postal jobs. Many of them can be done from home or anywhere you’re comfortable working by using a smartphone, tablet, or computer. If you’d prefer to take a proctored assessment, though, you can opt to schedule one through a test center. Some tests are required to be taken in person.
Required postal exams include:
When you apply, you’ll receive an email from the USPS applicant tracking system with a link to complete the assessment. Not every applicant will be invited to take this assessment, though; it’s usually offered on a first-come, first-serve basis as people apply. If you receive a link to the assessment, you’ll have three days to complete it.
Once you’ve applied for a job and taken any required assessments, you’ll be contacted for an initial interview if the USPS thinks you’re a good fit. This first pre-employment interview will likely be done as a group, depending on the position. After that, you’ll get the chance for a solo interview if you’re selected to move forward.
The entire application process — from filling out the initial application and assessment to getting a job offer and completing a background check — could take months.
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