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A rural carrier associate picks up and delivers mail, packages and parcels to United States Postal Service (USPS) customers located outside urban areas. His route may include residential or commercial patrons or a mixture of both. At the end of his shift, he returns to a specified post office in his region to drop off undelivered mail as well as signed receipts he may have collected from customers.
Organizational abilities are needed for a rural carrier associate to deliver mail to all the customers on her route in a timely manner. Good oral communication skills are required to interact with customers and answer their questions. The ability to decipher addresses and the names of addressees from frequently illegible writing on envelopes and address labels is required. Electronic device skills are needed to obtain signatures from customers on handheld computerized equipment used by the USPS.
Delivering mail on time to the correct customers is the main job of a rural carrier associate. He is expected to manage his time wisely and map out his route to avoid retracing delivery paths. Keeping detailed records of attempted and missed deliveries is required. Obtaining signatures for certified, registered and delivery confirmations is a job requirement. A rural carrier associate is expected to keep his vehicle clean and in working order by adhering to a preventive maintenance schedule.
Physical fitness is required for this job, as carriers are required to carry heavy mailbags and packages of many weights and sizes. They are also on their feet for most of their workday, and have to be able to easily bend and stretch to pick up and deliver parcels. A rural carrier associate is typically required to drive a company vehicle and work in all types of weather. Her work schedule is usually 40 hours a week, which may include some work on Saturdays. Holiday seasons that increase the volume of mail and packages may necessitate overtime. Most postal workers must wear a uniform provided by their employer. Encounters with hostile dogs at customer residences are a normal part of the job.
A high school diploma or equivalent is required for this job. Applicants for rural carrier associate positions must pass a civil service test to be considered for hire. Prior experience in delivery or customer service operations is desirable.
Salary and Advancement Opportunities
Due to the size of the USPS, advancement opportunities are readily available for most employees. Career growth into supervisory positions in the areas of delivery or mail processing is common. According to the job and salary information website Glassdoor.com, the average salary in 2010 for a rural carrier associate in the United States was $51,414.
Cassie Damewood has been a writer and editor since 1985. She writes about food and cooking for various websites, including My Great Recipes, and serves as the copy editor for "Food Loves Beer" magazine. Damewood completed a Bachelor of Arts in English with an emphasis in creative writing at Miami University.