Postal workers accept, process and deliver letters, documents, periodicals and packages to homes and businesses throughout the United States and the world. Because postal jobs provide steady employment and many benefits, and typically have no specific educational requirements for entry, they are highly competitive. Those qualifying may have a one-to-two-year wait before actually being hired.
Mail carriers deliver mail and packages to homes and businesses either through a mail truck, car or on foot. Many carriers begin their routes as early as 4 a.m., with outdoor work even in inclement weather. No specific educational requirement is needed. Carriers must be at least 18 years old, be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident and pass a Postal Service exam. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, those working part-time or irregular hours earn a median $25.10 per hour, with a range of $18.25 to $25.82. Those working full-time earn a median $52,200 per year, with a range of $37,950 to $53,700.
Postal Service Clerks
Postal service clerks work the desks at post offices by selling postage, processing money orders, mailing packages and selling postal supplies. The employment requirements for this position are the same as for mail carriers. Earnings per hour are and average of $25.10, as of 2010, with a range of $18.25 to $25.82, while annual income is $52,200, with a range of $37,950 to $53,700. The state paying the highest wages for postal clerks is the District of Columbia, with salaries at $24.81 per hour, or $51,600. The city with the same distinction is Fairbanks, Alaska, with wages at $25.25 per hour, or $52,350.
Mail processors sort incoming and outgoing mail for distribution at post offices and mail distribution centers. They operate sorting machines and load and unload mail trucks. They must meet the same requirements as clerks and mail carriers. As of 2010, mail processors make a median $25.25 per hour, with a range of $16.58 to $25.26, or an annual $52,520, with a range of $34,490 to $52,540. The state with the greatest concentration of mail processors is New Jersey, where salaries are at $23.94 or $49,800. The city with the highest concentration of mail processors is Springfield, Massachusetts, with pay at $23.77 or $49,450.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics says that employment for the postal service will experience declines ranging from 1 to 30 percent from 2008 to 2018, which is far worse than average for all positions. This decrease is due to the growing use of automatic sorting and delivery systems, which reduces the time needed for processing mails. In addition, the growing use of electronic communications has decreased the demand for mail services. This is balanced by population growth in certain areas and the need for temporary workers during periods of high mail volume, such as during the holidays.