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Working for the U.S. Postal Service: Jobs and Salaries

Updated on December 13, 2016
U.S. Postal Service mail box.
U.S. Postal Service mail box. | Source

© 2011 by Aurelio Locsin

The men and women who work at the U.S. Post Office ensure that millions of pieces of mail and packages are delivered to destinations in the United States and the world. Applications for jobs here are highly competitive, because positions pay well and yet do not require a high school diploma. All information comes from the U.S. Department of Labor.

Those driving Postal Service vehicles require safe driving records.
Those driving Postal Service vehicles require safe driving records. | Source


Applicants to the U.S. Postal Service must be at least 18 years old when appointed, or 16 with a high school diploma. They must be U.S. citizens or permanent residents with a green card. Citizens of American Samoa or other territories with permanent allegiance to the U.S. are also eligible. However, those in the country due to asylum, refugee or conditional permanent resident status are not eligible. A good command of English is required.

Applicants must pass a written exam that measures speed, accuracy and the ability to memorize distribution procedures. Points are added for honorably discharged veterans and those wounded in the line of duty. If they successfully pass, applicants typically wait two years for a job. They are appointed only during vacancies and only if they are one of the top three applicants on the list. Names remain on the waiting list for two years after the exam date.

Those who get jobs must submit to a criminal background check, drug screening and medical assessment. For example, mail carriers may need to show that they can lift mail sacks weighing up to 70 pounds. Those who will be driving at their positions also need a safe driving record.


All postal employees receive overtime at time-and-a-half for work over eight hours per day or 40 hours per workweek. They also receive a night shift differential for work between 6 PM and 6 AM, and a premium of 25 percent for work on Sunday. The Postal Service observes 10 holidays a year, and gives full-time employees from 13 to 25 days of vacation, depending on service length, and 13 days of sick leave per year.

Other benefits include health insurance, life insurance, flexible spending accounts and retirement income from three plans: the federal retirement program, a voluntary Thrift Savings Plan where the Postal Service matches employee contributions, and Social Security and Medicare.

Mail carrier Windel.
Mail carrier Windel. | Source

Jobs and Salaries

U.S. Postal Service salaries depend on the job.

  • Postal service clerks perform customer service and administrative tasks at post offices, such as receiving letters, figuring out correct postage, selling stamps and processing P.O. box requests. They earn a mean income of $25.25 per hour or $52,520 per year, with the lowest median pay at $23.38 per hour or $48,630 annually, and the highest median at $26.55 per hour or $55,230.
  • Postal service processors examine, sort and prepare incoming and outgoing mail, either manually or through automatic equipment. They make mean salaries of $23.24 per hour or $48,340 per year. Their lowest medians are at $12.76 per hour or $26,540 per year, and their highest are at $25.53 per hour or $53,100 per year.
  • Mail carriers, sometimes called mailmen or postal carriers, deliver mail to addresses either in vehicles or on foot. They make mean wages of $24.16 hourly or $50,250 per year. Their lowest medians are at $18.51 per hour or $38,490 per year, while their highest is $26.82 per hour or $55,790 per year.
  • Postmasters and superintendents manage the activities and the employees at a U.S. post office or distribution facility. The job requires several years of experience with increasing responsibility. They make a mean pay of $29.09 per hour or $60,500 per year, with low medians of $17.39 per hour or $36,170 per year and highs of $39.86 or $82,910 per year.


Employment in the U.S. Postal Service is expected to decline by about one percent for mail carriers, 18 percent for clerks and 30 percent for mail sorters. This is because of the growing reliance on email and the Internet for communications. Advancing technology such as postal service machines and automatic mail sorters also reduce the need for employees.


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