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The varying levels of personnel it takes to deliver your mail goes undetected by most consumers. The mail carrier who drops envelopes and newsletters into your mailbox might work directly for the U.S. Postal Service or could be a contracted mail carrier. The highway trucks delivering mail and packages to post offices throughout the country are usually contracted mail carriers, as are some delivery personnel working in remote and even high-density locations. With the increase in online shopping, the post office is inundated with boxes that need to find a home. Contract delivery companies and individuals are needed to keep up with the workload.
Whether you live on top of a mountain, on an island, or in the country, mail must move from the central post office and into your private mailbox. A contracted mail carrier’s job is to deliver that mail. Some contractors work for companies that hold the work agreement for the delivery route, while others work for themselves. Sorting, loading, and delivering mail, packages, parcels large and small, including express mail with delivery deadlines – are the duties of contract mail carriers. Lifting heavy boxes and delivering in inclement weather six days a week are included in the job description. Depending on the length of the route and your familiarity with the terrain, you can expect to work six to 10 hours daily. As a contracted mail carrier, you work for yourself as an independent contractor, not directly for the postal service. You’re a freelancer with no paid benefits.
Qualifying as a Contracted Carrier
You must be 21 years of age, have a valid driver’s license with a clean driving record, and must be eligible to work in the United States. Green card holders can become contracted carriers and must have a social security number. Reading, writing and speaking English are mandatory. You're also required to live in the county in which you are applying for a job or in the adjacent county. You’ll supply your own car and be responsible for its maintenance. It’s preferred that the vehicle has covered loading space, such as an SUV, and be in good mechanical condition. If you’re applying to deliver via water, rail or air, be sure you have the right type of transportation to accomplish this. Medical screening and background checks are also performed. Some contracting companies require a high school diploma or the equivalent.
How to Apply
The first of many steps to become a contract carrier for the postal service is to fill out PS5436, a detailed application listing the type of mail carrier position you are applying for. It’s important to note that small businesses, women and/or minorities can give their status on the application. You’re asked to describe the type of vehicle you drive, the type of route you’re interested in pursuing, and the state it’s located in. When it’s complete, send or bring it to the contracting officer at the Distribution Networks Office in your area. A company applying to become a contractor has additional forms and disclosures to complete as part of its application process. When your application is approved, you’ll be put on the USPS list of approved contractors, and they’ll contact you when an opportunity comes up.
As an individual working as a contracted delivery person, your employer is yourself. You are paid as a 1099 worker and are responsible for reporting and paying taxes. You receive a gross amount at the end of the pay period. Health benefits, vacation or sick days don’t exist. In fact, you should have a back-up delivery person in the event you cannot work, and he or she must apply to qualify as a mail carrier. You’re also paid for mileage, but vehicle maintenance is up to you. Expect to earn up to $21 per hour.
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