Page updated 8/18/2019
Postal Service Mail Carriers deliver mail, once it has been processed and sorted, to residences and businesses in cities, towns, and rural areas. Although carriers are classified by their type of route—either city or rural—the duties of city and rural carriers are similar. Most travel established routes, delivering and collecting mail. Mail carriers start work at the post office early in the morning, when they arrange the mail in delivery sequence. Automated equipment has reduced the time that carriers need to sort the mail, causing them to spend more of their time delivering it.
Mail Carriers cover their routes on foot, by vehicle, or a combination of both. On foot, they carry a heavy load of mail in a satchel or push it on a cart. In most urban and rural areas, they use a car or small truck. Although the Postal Service provides vehicles to city carriers, most rural carriers must use their own automobiles, for whose use they are reimbursed. Deliveries are made house-to-house, to roadside mailboxes, and to large buildings such as offices or apartments, which generally have all of their tenants’ mailboxes in one location.
Besides delivering and collecting mail, carriers collect money for postage-due and COD (cash-on-delivery) fees and obtain signed receipts for registered, certified, and insured mail. If a customer is not home, the carrier leaves a notice that tells where special mail is being held. After completing their routes, carriers return to the post office with mail gathered from homes, businesses, and sometimes street collection boxes, and turn in the mail, receipts, and money collected during the day.
Some city carriers may have specialized duties such as delivering only parcels or picking up mail from mail collection boxes. In contrast to city carriers, rural carriers provide a wider range of postal services, in addition to delivering and picking up mail. For example, rural carriers may sell stamps and money orders and register, certify, and insure parcels and letters. All carriers, however, must be able to answer customers’ questions about postal regulations and services and provide change-of-address cards and other postal forms when requested. Mail carriers deliver mail to urban and rural residences and businesses throughout the United States
Most carriers begin work early in the morning—those with routes in a business district can start as early as 4 a.m. Overtime hours are frequently required for urban carriers. Carriers spend most of their time outdoors, delivering mail in all kinds of weather. Though carriers face many natural hazards, such as extreme temperatures, wet and icy roads and sidewalks, and even dog bites, serious injuries are often due to the nature of the work, which requires repetitive movements, as well as constant lifting and bending. These types of repetitive injuries occur as various kinds of injuries to joints and muscles, as well as carpal tunnel syndrome.
Starting pay in 2018 for city carrier assistants was $16.78 per hour, $35,019 per year. Part Time Flexible (PTF) sales and services/distribution associates earn $17.88 per hour, mail handler assistants $15.46 per hour, and Postal Support Employee (PSE) clerks start at $14.94 per hour. Tractor trailer operators start at $21.44 an hour while automotive mechanics start at $43,880 annually. Mail processing, clerk, and delivery workers are initially hired as supplemental workers with temporary appointments and typically work 40 or more hours per week. There are also executive and administrative annual Pay-for-Performance schedules for non-bargaining unit members that range from $25,619 up to an authorized maximum of $129,792.
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