The advent of digital communication has, in some respects, replaced the previous standards of sending and receiving postal mail. Yet, the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) continues to process millions of items every year, proving that many individuals and businesses still rely on mail processing to maintain personal and commercial relationships. The mail processing clerk is an important part of this service.
Education and Experience
Mail processing clerk positions generally require a high school diploma as minimum educational requirements. Basic arithmetic skills are needed for counting and sorting mail pieces, and experience with computers is a valuable asset, as many mail rooms today are automated. Relevant working background would include any experience with shipping and receiving especially in a managing position that entails record keeping and report writing.
In-Depth Mail Processing Duties
The specific responsibilities of a mail clerk are dependent on the size and scope of entity that he works for. A small company that has a low number of incoming and outgoing postal items each day may or may not have an actual mail processing clerk. Larger companies will definitely need a dedicated mail clerk to handle the numerous items passing through the mail center. For instance, a fair-sized college will need the mail clerk to receive postal items according to the standards of the carrier, as well as to prepare outgoing mail by correctly judging the appropriate carrier for the delivery. This includes calculating carrier rates for both domestic and international delivery points.
Post Office Mail Processing
The USPS is still the largest processing facility for postal items. The mail processing duties required for this position are extensive and detailed. Zip codes are the key to this operation, and the mail clerk must have a thorough understanding of the many codes that exist. Although automation has been integrated into the USPS system, there are still occasions when hand sorting is required, and the mail clerk needs to be able to perform this duty in an expedient manner. Manual sorting also applies to the movement of postal items from the processing center to the appropriate location for further processing, either by the carriers or through the post office boxes and front counter.
Other USPS Processing Duties
The USPS sorting process also involves setting up and running the various sorting machines used in the processing center. The mail clerk will load and run the sorting machines, remove items that cannot be processed by the scanners in the machines, monitor the operation of the machines, clear any jams that occur and finally clear the sorting bins. USPS mail clerks are often required to serve customers on a fill-in basis and will also be required to perform record-keeping functions as well as calculating and preparing items that require special postage.
The pay scale for a mail processing clerk varies according to the size and needs of the employer. According to Bureau of Labor Statistics, as of May 2008, entry-level wages for a mail clerk averaged a little over $8.00 an hour, with the pay scales increasing up to $18.00 an hour at the high end of the scale.