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Your local post office is among your community's most reliable employers with one of the lowest employee turnaround rates. Full-time post office employees enjoy good compensation, health insurance, and can qualify for retirement funds. Because of these and other perks, postal workers rarely leave their jobs, and you have to be on your toes to grab those openings which do arise.
Each post office employs enough mail carriers to deliver all of the mail to the area the post office serves. Each morning, carriers must sort, box and load their area mail for the day's delivery. A city postal carrier must wear a uniform and drive a USPS vehicle, and walks or drives the delivery route. City mail carriers deliver letters and packages, obtaining signed receipt for packages as required. They can also collect COD or postage due amounts from customers. The starting salary for mail carriers ranges between $30,000 and $50,000 per year, plus benefits. Veterans with more than 10 years with the postal service earn between $50,000 and $60,000. In most cases, a rural mail carrier does not wear a uniform and drives a personal vehicle, augmented with magnetic "US Postal Service" signs and a blinking caution light. Most rural routes are motor routes, due to the wider spacing between mail boxes in the country. Some rural carriers contract with the post office by bidding for a route for a limited time period--three years, for example. In this case, the carrier does not qualify for the benefits to which a full-time employee is entitled. Rural carriers perform duties similar to the city carrier, but can also sell stamps to customers on the route. Pay depends on the carrier's bid for the contracted services. Post offices hire temporary relief carriers to fill in when a full-time employee is ill or on vacation. Temporary employees work on an hourly wage of as much as $20. Rural contracted carriers are responsible to hire and train their own substitutes.
Every post office has counter service which must be performed by postal clerks. They sell stamps and other USPS supplies; they weigh packages and sell the required postage. Mail clerks answer customers' questions, such as how long a piece of mail will take to get to its destination. They also register, certify, and insure mail, and rent out post office boxes. In many post offices, clerks assist with mail sorting in the early morning, deliver to the unit's PO boxes, and prepare outgoing mail for afternoon pickup. They collect and file carriers’ package receipts, and keep track of the mail box keys each carrier needs for her route. Clerks earn between $27,000 and $40,000, depending on years worked and location. Postal clerks and full-time carriers receive overtime pay and Sunday premium pay as well as regular salary increases.
At larger post offices that have equipment to sort mail for a group of smaller area post offices, mail handlers operate automated mail sorting machines and manually sort additional mail, such as those letters the machines cannot read, and packages. Handlers also tray or bag sorted mail and load it onto USPS trucks for distribution to area post offices. They often operate such heavy equipment as forklifts, electric vehicles, and hand trucks in the daily operation of their jobs. After the first year on the job, mail handlers earn between $10,000 and $20,000 per year, plus benefits. Veterans with more than 10 years with the postal service earn between $20,000 and $25,000.
Each post office has a postmaster who oversees the operations of the unit as well as the workers. The salary for a postmaster ranges between $60,000 and $109,000. In order to qualify for any post office position, you must 18 or older and a US citizen or legal resident alien. Many postal jobs require that you pass the 473 Postal Exam. Executive positions have additional requirements, including experience and higher education.
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I have an MFA degree in Creative Writing and am a published poet who has received several poetry awards. I have established a reputation as an environmental activist, both through the group I co-founded -- see alternativeone.org -- and through a series of op-ed pieces in Montana newspapers. I have written extensively on alternative energy, recycling and endangered species.