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Mail processing clerks typically work as postal support employees (PSEs) for the U.S. Postal Service (USPS). Professionals in these positions sort and prepare mail for distribution by a mail carrier. They may also assist in loading mail career vehicles, unloading the vehicles at the end of their shift and filing away mail that couldn't be delivered.
Mail processing clerk duties include sorting and preparing mail for distribution, and hand-sorting letters. USPS PSEs can expect to encounter the following tasks in their daily jobs:
- Preparing mail to load into carrier trucks.
- Loading postal trucks and making sure to pack parcels in delivery route order.
- Loading and operating machinery for mail processing, sorting and canceling.
- Sorting and organizing mail to be delivered.
- Unloading mail trucks after they complete their routes.
- Repairing machines.
- Bundle, label and route mail depending on their destinations, and according to established deadlines and procedures.
- Operating optical character readers such as scanning equipment, addressographs and mimeographs.
- Assisting customers.
- Fixing packages that have been broken or otherwise damaged.
- Checking items' addresses to make sure they are legible and correct.
- Placing mails onto conveyors to be culled and sorted.
- Weighing parcels to determine what the postage costs.
- Operating forklifts and trains to move large boxes and mail items.
Mail processing clerks are responsible for learning everything there is to know about the complex process of sorting mail. This process determines whether packages reach their destinations in an accurate, timely manner, and depends largely on whether mail processing clerks have properly separated and organized the mail at hand. These professionals must also work to keep their business areas fully stocked with necessary supplies, provide service to customers, and learn and abide by safety procedures to keep the workplace free of injuries and accidents.
USPS PSE positions generally require candidates to hold their high school diploma or an educational equivalent. Applicants must usually take and pass an exam to demonstrate their knowledge of post office procedures. This exam ensures that each employee is current on the knowledge required for a mail processing clerk position.
- Mail processing clerk candidates must meet the following requirements to qualify for a PSE position:
- 18 years old at the time of appointment, or 16 with a high school diploma.
- U.S. citizen, permanent resident or a U.S. territory citizen.
- Provide a history of recent employment.
- Ability to pass a drug screening, medical assessment and criminal background check.
- Possess a safe driving record, if applicable.
Mail processing clerks should possess excellent organizational and customer service skills.
Mail processing clerks working for USPS earn an average annual wage of $42,000, which breaks down to $15.97 per hour. Those in the bottom 10 percent on the earning scale take home approximately $31,000 annually, while professionals in the 90th percentile earn up to $59,000 each year. Entry-level mail processing clerks can expect to make just over $35,000 per year, while late-career employees with more than 20 years of experience earn just under $55,000 annually. Mid-career employees with five to 10 years of experience earn an average annual compensation of $39,000, according to PayScale.
Brenna Swanston is a freelance writer, editor and journalist. She previously reported for the Sun newspaper in Santa Maria, California, and she holds a bachelor's in journalism from California Polytechnic State University.