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How To Become A Mailman

Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night will keep a mailman from doing their job.

Drive mail truck with USPS
Average Salary
Career Outlook
8% decline through 2030

What Does A Mailman do?

A mailman – or mail carrier is responsible for making sure United States Postal Service mail and packages get delivered to business and homes in their areas. They are usually assigned a route in a specific geo-location and will be responsible for that area. Some will deliver the mail on foot while others will use a mail truck for their deliveries – this will depend on whether you are a city or rural carrier.

Mail carriers are federal employees so there are a lot of requirements and standards that must be met before one can start as a mail carrier with the post office. The job description might vary a bit based on your location and experience, but there are some general services you might do no matter where you work.

Some of the things you may do as a mail carrier for the United States Postal Service include:

  • Collect mail from the home office
  • Deliver mail to homes and businesses on your route
  • Get signatures from customers for certified mail
  • Address cross comparison
  • Mail carriers in rural areas may also sell postal products like stamps to customers
  • In some post offices you may need to assist with unloading of mail trucks or help move mail

usps mailman truck

How To Become A Mailman

The following are the steps and job requirements needed for becoming a mail carrier with the postal service. While postal service mail carriers only require a high school diploma or GED (no degree is needed), there are some other basic requirements that you should be aware of.

  • Education: You must have a high school diploma and a good command of the English language.
  • Age: According to the United States Postal Service, those that are 16 years or older can apply for a mail carrier job as long as they have a high school diploma.
  • Citizen: You must be a US citizen or permanent residency.
  • Physical Condition: You must be able to lift at least 50 pounds and be able to walk or drive for long stretches, so a medical assessment will be done to ensure you can meet the physical needs. If these are not things you can do you may want to create a physical fitness plan to meet these requirements before applying.
  • Background Check: You will need to pass a criminal background check.
  • Drug Screening: A drug test will be done and you must pass to be considered for employment as a mail carrier.
  • Driver’s License: You must have a valid driver’s license with a safe driving record.
  • Postal Exam: Test 473 is postal exam that is required by all applicants. The written exam includes form completion memory and coding skills, form completion accuracy and other items. It is approximately 2 hours long. Applicants must pass this test to have a chance at getting hired. There are opportunities online to get practice tests and a study guide to help you pass the test, so take advantage of these! After the exam you may make it to the USPS pre hire list which is the next step in the hiring process.
  • Interview: Those that do well on the exam will be invited in for an interview. This will allow the organization to help get to know you better and for you to ask questions to ensure the job is a great fit.

After you complete all of the above, you may be offered the position. You will start your career as an entry level position, but do it well and you can find yourself moving up the ladder. Take advantage of the on the job training and ask questions and learn as much as you can from the more experienced mail carriers.

Recommended Skills To Become A Mail Carrier

Becoming a mail carrier is a long process and comes with some skills that will make you a standout at the interview and help improve your chances for career advancement. Your personal characteristics and experience will play a factor in your chance of securing a position. So, be sure you have some of these skills before you apply!

Customer Service Skills

While your interaction with people will be fairly minimal, there are times you may need to ask for a signature or have another reason to interact with the public.


You will be dealing with very confidential information and products so honesty is an integral part of this job.

Strength & Endurance

Driving long hours and carrying heavy bags or boxes does require stamina and strength. If you are not able to lift boxes or large bins of mail you will not be able to be successful.

Organizational Skills

Sorting and delivering mail does require a bit of organization so it is important you can manage large amounts of mail and be efficient in delivery.

Pros & Cons Of Being A Mail Carrier

Being a mail carrier definitely has its good and bad points. A few of them are noted below. In researching this job in more detail many do note that management and training is a bit lacking. Expectations can be high for how much a mail carrier can do in a day – but if you are organized you should be able to meet these expectations in most cases!


  • Minimal experience or education required
  • Get to be outdoors and not in an office
  • Independent work environment
  • Good benefits


  • Hours can often be more than 40 per week
  • You will need to work in all kinds of weather
  • Declining demand for career

How Much Do Mail Carriers Make

The median annual salary for mail carriers is $51,730.

The average median salary for a mail carrier was $51,730 annually and $24.87 per hour as of May 2021.

Median means that half of the workers in the industry earned a higher salary and half earned less. This range can vary based on your geographic location and level of experience.

Mail Carrier Job Outlook

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the growth and availability of jobs in the postal system are not looking strong due to more automated systems like paying bills online and virtual cards as well as budgeting constraints.

There will always be people retiring or leaving the positions so it is worth it to still try and become a mailman, but there is usually more people applying than jobs to fill.

Without the job growth that some other trade careers have, we would not really recommend pursuing this field unless you have the time to wait for a position to open with your local post office.

There is an expected 9% decline in jobs as a mail carrier through 2030.

Frequently Asked Questions

Below are some of the most commonly asked questions about being a mailman. If you have other questions that are not listed here – please email us or leave a comment below and we will be sure to add it!

*Data source: Bureau of Labor Statistics