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How to be a mail carrier?
November 12, 2006 4:46 PM   Subscribe

How would someone go about getting a job as a mail carrier?

Working as a USPS mail carrier seems like an interesting job, but there never seem to be any openings or test announcements. So how do people get in in the first place?
posted by magodesky to Work & Money (15 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
 
all federal civil service jobs should be at
USAJobs.gov
posted by Izzmeister at 4:49 PM on November 12, 2006


See also the USPS web site.
posted by Robert Angelo at 4:56 PM on November 12, 2006


I guess I didn't really make this clear in the original post, but I already know about the USPS and USAJobs websites. What I was more trying to get at is, given the fact that there never seem to be any announcements for mail carrier positions on those sites, is there some other way that people use to get their foot in the door? Or is it simply a matter of waiting around until there is an announcement?
posted by magodesky at 5:09 PM on November 12, 2006


And I guess I should also point out that this is assuming that one doesn't want to move halfway across the state to get the job.
posted by magodesky at 5:12 PM on November 12, 2006


You take the test, get scored on test results and any extra points (veterans, for example, get extra points) and get on the list for openings. You might be able to get a temp job for the holidays to see if it interests you.
posted by theora55 at 5:58 PM on November 12, 2006


USPS jobs are very competitive. Before you get made permanent, you start as a temp, and eventually move up to PTF (Part-Time Flexible, or "Part Time Forever" as the joke goes). Then, maybe, you make it to Full-Time. At that point you have a full-time route and set hours. Otherwise, you're more or less the USPS's property to slap around. Traded between POs dozens of miles apart when needed, not having set or even guaranteed hours. Not so fun.

I'm basing much of this on my father's experience; he eventually left the USPS entirely after several years of waiting around for something, anything to open up and went to work somewhere else in the Federal Gov't system (his service years carried over).
posted by The Michael The at 6:22 PM on November 12, 2006


Oh, that said, he very much enjoyed his job, especially when he took over routes for longer periods when carriers were on extended sick leave.
posted by The Michael The at 6:23 PM on November 12, 2006


I used to be a mail carrier for the USPS; I got in through the above method of applying for an exam on the usps website ("Processing, Distribution and Delivery Positions"), taking the exam and so on and so on.

If there are no Processing, Distribution and Delivery Positions openings at ALL, I would say just keep going back to the website until one comes up (the list may appear not to change very much but jobs are put up and taken down quite frequently). If there ARE delivery jobs available but not in your area, apply for tests in other cities that aren't too far away. The exam is not only for the city you apply to, but for all the cities nearby which are currently hiring (usually you won't even see them on the website)!

Sorry if that was all redundant, but that was how I got in (I had spent a great deal of time waiting for an opening in my area until I just started applying everywhere).

During my orientation I was told something like half the USPS workforce is retiring in the next 10 years so there will be many delivery positions opening up. (uh, if I wasn't supposed to mention that, please don't send me to jail Post Masters of America).

Also, not to burst your bubble at all in case you had a realisitic vision of what it's like to be a mail carrier (I didn't, apparently) but it was very hard work and I ended up quitting fairly soon after starting. If I ever see another JC Penny catalog again.. SIGH.

And I guess I should also mention I took the test in the winter and was hired during the summer, which is when many of the senior mail delivery people take their vacations and when they need people the most to fill in their jobs. Prehaps it might help to wait around until late winter/early spring for job openings to be posted.
posted by zippity at 6:33 PM on November 12, 2006


USPS jobs are very competitive. Before you get made permanent, you start as a temp, and eventually move up to PTF (Part-Time Flexible, or "Part Time Forever" as the joke goes)
...
Traded between POs dozens of miles apart when needed, not having set or even guaranteed hours.


This is true in many cases I've heard (most of the people I worked with had started out as temp) but I had started out as part time flex (they say you are guaranteed at least 4 hours a week being PTF, but I don't know ANYONE who worked only four hours a week being ptf. You're actually more likely to be working 60+ hours a week, for serious. But again, it depends on where your PO is, how big, how under/over staffed it is, etc.)

As for being traded between PO's, I never witnessed that in the one I worked at but it probably does happen sometimes.
posted by zippity at 6:47 PM on November 12, 2006


When I was in college I worked for a summer as a "casual" carrier. This was an 89 day job (so that we didn't have to join the union) covering for all the people that were on vacation. I delivered a different route almost every day. What little I remember about getting in (this was in 1978) was that we had to take a test, and nearly all of the casuals were the children of postal employees (as I was). It was a lot of fun, I got to see many different parts of the city (Lansing, MI) and I was in the best shape physically in my life.
posted by rfs at 6:54 PM on November 12, 2006


My post office posts a banner outside once a year or so advertising for 'substitute' carriers - a lot of the routes around here are considered "rural," and the carriers are part-timers who drive their own vehicles. Seems like it might be a way to get your foot in the door.
posted by candyland at 7:32 PM on November 12, 2006


As for being traded between PO's, I never witnessed that in the one I worked at but it probably does happen sometimes.

The more I think about it, the more I think he may have been a Casual at the time (the step below PTF), but he definitely moved from place to place as he was needed. In any case, I was young at the time, so my memories aren't the best. I was more concerned with G.I. Joes.
posted by The Michael The at 7:41 PM on November 12, 2006


USPS was a bureaucratic nightmare when I worked there. They had 1 supervisor for every 7 people and it was the most top heavy place I've ever seen.

Interesting is not what I'd call the work. In fact junk is now easily 60% of the business and the rest of the business is slooowly dying.

The only upside is that after 10 years on the job you might begin to get a little senority and a little job security.
posted by Xurando at 8:37 PM on November 12, 2006


Don't listen to Xurando. After your sixth anniversary you can't be laid off. While the clerk workforce is contracting due to automation, the carrier and maintenance crafts are expanding.

Here in Spokane, they're hiring casuals right now. Call the Personnel office.
posted by faceonmars at 11:05 PM on November 12, 2006


maybe its a little dated, but i think you should read charles bukowski's 'post office' before you do this.
posted by kneelconqueso at 8:43 AM on November 13, 2006


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