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USPS Mail Handler Job Description

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Mail handlers keep mail moving through the U.S. postal system efficiently. The mail handler job description includes a variety of tasks, ranging from unloading mail from trucks to moving heavy containers with forklifts or other machinery. Mail handlers spend most of the day on their feet and must be able to lift heavy sacks or containers of mail.

Job Description

Mail handlers work behind the scenes, and handle mail before and after it has been processed. They unload mail from trucks, empty mail sacks and unwrap bundles of magazines, catalogs and other oversize pieces mail.

Once mail is unloaded from trucks, it is moved to processing machines or conveyors. Handlers may use several different types of equipment to move mail from place to place, such as forklifts, mules or pallet jacks. Mail handlers place sorted mail in sacks, tubs, cages, dollies or hampers before loading it into trucks that will transport it to the next stop in its journey.

Handlers are the employees who make sure that every piece of mail reaches its destination. The USPS package handler job description includes examining mail sacks to ensure that they’re completely empty and and placing empty sacks on racks.

Placing mail on conveyors by hand would be a very time-consuming task. Instead, the postal service uses mechanized dumpers that hold large amounts of mail. The dumpers tip over when full and deposit mail on to conveyor belts. Although the dumpers are very efficient, mail can become stuck at the very bottom of them. Mail handlers are responsible for removing a mail left behind in the dumper.

Mail handler duties may also include operation of canceling and copy machines, sweeping floors and wrapping packages that have become damaged.

The job can be fast-paced when mail trucks arrive. Mail handlers must quickly unload and load mail to ensure that the processing schedule isn’t disrupted. The ability to lift up to 70 pounds, speak and read English, and push containers loaded to the brim with mail and packages are requirements for the position.

Education and Training

Mail handlers must have a high school diploma or equivalent. They’re also required to be U.S. citizens or permanent residents. Before new mail handlers are hired, they must pass pre-employment drug testing.

A score of 70 or higher on the 473 Battery Exam is a requirement for mail handling jobs. If you’re a veteran or a family member of a disabled or deceased veteran, you may be awarded five to 10 extra test points. Once you pass the test, your name is passed on a register that USPS hiring managers consult when they need to hire new mail handlers.

Mail handlers receive on-the-job training and may be paired with more experienced workers during their first few weeks on the job.

Salary and Job Outlook

The median annual salary for postal service workers was $57, 260 as of May 2017, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The BLS expects the demand for postal service workers to decrease by 13 percent by 2026, due to budget cuts, increased automation and other factors. In early 2018, the USPS offered early retirement to 26,000 mail handlers and postal workers, as part of its ongoing effort to reduce staff numbers, according to the Federal News Network.


Holly McGurgan has a degree in journalism and previously worked as a non-profit public relations and communications manager. She often writes about career and lifestyle topics. Her work has appeared online on Healthline, Working for Candy and other sites.

Photo Credits

Stephen Lam/Getty Images News/Getty Images