Bureau of Labor Statistics

Postal Service Workers

postal service workers image
Postal service workers must carefully sort mail.
Quick Facts: Postal Service Workers
2020 Median Pay $51,150 per year
$24.59 per hour
Typical Entry-Level Education High school diploma or equivalent
Work Experience in a Related Occupation None
On-the-job Training Short-term on-the-job training
Number of Jobs, 2019 503,100
Job Outlook, 2019-29 -14% (Decline)
Employment Change, 2019-29 -72,200

Summary

What Postal Service Workers Do

Postal service workers sell postal products and collect, sort, and deliver mail.

Work Environment

Postal service clerks and mail sorters, processors, and processing machine operators work indoors, typically in a post office. Mail carriers mostly work outdoors, delivering mail.

How to Become a Postal Service Worker

Most postal service workers have a high school diploma. All applicants for these jobs must pass a written exam.

Pay

The median annual wage for postal service workers was $51,150 in May 2020.

Job Outlook

Overall employment of postal service workers is projected to decline 14 percent from 2019 to 2029. Automated sorting systems, cluster mailboxes, and tight budgets are expected to adversely affect employment. Some job openings will result from the need to replace workers who leave the occupation or the labor force, but strong competition should be expected as the number of applicants typically exceeds the number of available positions.

State & Area Data

Explore resources for employment and wages by state and area for postal service workers.

Similar Occupations

Compare the job duties, education, job growth, and pay of postal service workers with similar occupations.

More Information, Including Links to O*NET

Learn more about postal service workers by visiting additional resources, including O*NET, a source on key characteristics of workers and occupations.

What Postal Service Workers Do

Postal service workers
Carriers deliver mail to homes and businesses.

Postal service workers sell postal products and collect, sort, and deliver mail.

Duties

Postal service workers typically do the following:

  • Collect letters and parcels
  • Sort incoming letters and parcels
  • Sell stamps and other postal products
  • Get customer signatures for registered, certified, and insured mail
  • Operate various types of postal equipment
  • Distribute incoming mail from postal trucks

Postal service workers receive and process mail for delivery to homes, businesses, and post office boxes. Workers are classified based on the type of work they perform.

The following are examples of types of postal service workers:

Postal service clerks sell stamps, money orders, postal stationery, mailing envelopes, and boxes in post offices throughout the country. These workers register, certify, and insure mail, calculate and collect postage, and answer questions about other postal matters. They also may help sort mail.

Postal service mail carriers deliver mail to homes and businesses in cities, towns, and rural areas. Most travel established routes, delivering and collecting mail. Mail carriers cover their routes by foot, vehicle, or a combination of both. Some mail carriers collect money for postage due. Others, particularly in rural areas, sell postal products, such as stamps and money orders. All mail carriers must be able to answer customers’ questions about postal regulations and services and, upon request, provide change-of-address cards and other postal forms.

Postal service mail sorters, processors, and processing machine operators prepare incoming and outgoing mail for distribution at post offices and mail processing centers. They load and unload postal trucks and move mail around processing centers. They also operate and adjust mail processing and sorting machinery.

Work Environment

Postal service workers
Although mail carriers work outdoors, sorters and processors typically work indoors.

Postal service workers held about 503,100 jobs in 2019. Employment in the detailed occupations that make up postal service workers was distributed as follows:

Postal service mail carriers 326,600
Postal service mail sorters, processors, and processing machine operators 98,500
Postal service clerks 78,100

The largest employers of postal service workers were as follows:

Postal service 100%

Postal service clerks and mail sorters, processors, and processing machine operators work indoors, typically in a post office. Mail carriers mostly work outdoors, delivering mail in all kinds of weather. Although mail carriers face many natural hazards, such as extreme temperatures and wet or icy roads and sidewalks, the work is not especially dangerous. However, repetitive stress injuries from lifting and bending may occur.

Work Schedules

Most postal service workers are employed full time. However, overtime is sometimes required, particularly during the holiday season. Because mail is delivered 6 days a week, many postal service workers must work on Saturdays. Some also work on Sundays.

How to Become a Postal Service Worker

Postal service workers
Mail carriers must receive a passing grade on a road test.

All postal service worker applicants must pass a written exam. The exam covers four areas: address cross comparison, forms completion, memory and coding, and personal characteristics and experience. Jobseekers should contact the post office or mail processing center where they want to work to find out when exams are given.

Postal service mail carriers must be at least 18 years old, or 16 years old with a high school diploma. They must be U.S. citizens or have permanent resident-alien status. Males must have registered with the Selective Service when they reached age 18.

When accepted, applicants must undergo a criminal background check and pass a physical exam and a drug test. Applicants also may be asked to show that they can lift and handle heavy mail sacks. Mail carriers who drive at work must have a safe driving record, and applicants must receive a passing grade on a road test.

Education

Most postal service workers have a high school diploma. All applicants must have a good command of English.

Training

Newly hired postal service workers receive short-term on-the-job training, usually lasting less than 1 month. Those who have a mail route may initially work alongside an experienced carrier.

Important Qualities

Customer-service skills. Postal service workers, particularly clerks, regularly interact with customers. As a result, they must be courteous and tactful and provide good client service.

Physical stamina. Postal service workers, particularly mail carriers, must be able to stand or walk for long periods.

Physical strength. Postal service workers must be able to lift heavy mail bags and parcels without injuring themselves.

Pay

Postal Service Workers

Median annual wages, May 2020

Postal service workers

$51,150

Total, all occupations

$41,950

Material recording, scheduling, dispatching, and distributing workers

$41,160

 

The median annual wage for postal service workers was $51,150 in May 2020. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $37,760, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $65,040.

Median annual wages for postal service workers in May 2020 were as follows:

Postal service mail sorters, processors, and processing machine operators $53,140
Postal service mail carriers 51,080
Postal service clerks 50,150

In May 2020, the median annual wages for postal service workers in the top industries in which they worked were as follows:

Postal service $51,150

Most postal service workers are employed full time. However, overtime is sometimes required, particularly during the holiday season. Because mail is delivered 6 days a week, many postal service workers must work on Saturdays. Some also work on Sundays.

Job Outlook

Postal Service Workers

Percent change in employment, projected 2019-29

Total, all occupations

4%

Material recording, scheduling, dispatching, and distributing workers

-5%

Postal service workers

-14%

 

Overall employment of postal service workers is projected to decline 14 percent from 2019 to 2029. Automated sorting systems, cluster mailboxes, and tight budgets are expected to adversely affect employment. Employment changes, however, will vary by specialty.

Employment of postal service clerks is projected to decline 14 percent from 2019 to 2029. Employment may be adversely affected by the decline in First-Class Mail volume caused by the continued increase in the use of automated and electronic bill pay and email.

Employment of postal service mail carriers is projected to decline 14 percent from 2019 to 2029. The use of automated “delivery point sequencing” systems that sort letter mail directly reduces the amount of time that carriers spend on mail sorting.

The amount of time carriers save on sorting letter mail and flat mail will allow them to increase the size of their routes, which should reduce the need to hire more carriers. In addition, the postal service is moving toward more centralized mail delivery, such as the use of cluster mailboxes, to cut down on the number of door-to-door deliveries.

Employment of postal service mail sorters, processors, and processing machine operators is projected to decline 18 percent from 2019 to 2029. The postal service will likely need fewer workers because new mail sorting technology can read text and automatically sort, forward, and process mail. The greater use of online services to pay bills and the increased use of email should also reduce the need for sorting and processing workers.

Job Prospects

Despite declining employment, some job openings will result from the need to replace workers who leave the occupation or the labor force. However, strong competition can be expected as the number of applicants typically exceeds the number of available positions.

Employment projections data for postal service workers, 2019-29

SOURCE: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Employment Projections program

Occupational Title

Postal service workers

SOC Code43-5050
Employment, 2019503,100
Projected Employment, 2029430,900
Percent Change, 2019-29-14
Numeric Change, 2019-29-72,200
Employment by IndustryGet data
Occupational Title

Postal service clerks

SOC Code43-5051
Employment, 201978,100
Projected Employment, 202967,500
Percent Change, 2019-29-14
Numeric Change, 2019-29-10,500
Employment by IndustryGet data
Occupational Title

Postal service mail carriers

SOC Code43-5052
Employment, 2019326,600
Projected Employment, 2029282,500
Percent Change, 2019-29-14
Numeric Change, 2019-29-44,100
Employment by IndustryGet data
Occupational Title

Postal service mail sorters, processors, and processing machine operators

SOC Code43-5053
Employment, 201998,500
Projected Employment, 202980,900
Percent Change, 2019-29-18
Numeric Change, 2019-29-17,600
Employment by IndustryGet data

State & Area Data

Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics (OEWS)

The Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics (OEWS) program produces employment and wage estimates annually for over 800 occupations. These estimates are available for the nation as a whole, for individual states, and for metropolitan and nonmetropolitan areas. The link(s) below go to OEWS data maps for employment and wages by state and area.

Projections Central

Occupational employment projections are developed for all states by Labor Market Information (LMI) or individual state Employment Projections offices. All state projections data are available at www.projectionscentral.com. Information on this site allows projected employment growth for an occupation to be compared among states or to be compared within one state. In addition, states may produce projections for areas; there are links to each state’s websites where these data may be retrieved.

CareerOneStop

CareerOneStop includes hundreds of occupational profiles with data available by state and metro area. There are links in the left-hand side menu to compare occupational employment by state and occupational wages by local area or metro area. There is also a salary info tool to search for wages by zip code.

Similar Occupations

This table shows a list of occupations with job duties that are similar to those of postal service workers.

Occupation Job Duties ENTRY-LEVEL EDUCATION 2020 MEDIAN PAY
Delivery truck drivers and driver/sales workers

Delivery Truck Drivers and Driver/Sales Workers

Delivery truck drivers and driver/sales workers pick up, transport, and drop off packages and small shipments within a local region or urban area.

High school diploma or equivalent $34,340
Retail sales workers

Retail Sales Workers

Retail sales workers help customers find products they want and process customers’ payments.

No formal educational credential $27,320

Contacts for More Info

Last Modified Date: Friday, April 9, 2021

Suggested citation:

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Postal Service Workers,
at https://www.bls.gov/ooh/office-and-administrative-support/postal-service-workers.htm (visited May 31, 2021).

Telephone: 1-202-691-5700 www.bls.gov/ooh Contact OOH

View this page on regular www.bls.gov

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