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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.
Career Overview*
  • Median Salary$51,080
  • Career Outlook8% decline through 2030
  • Certifications None

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 this type of career.

How To Become A Mailman

The following are the steps and requirements needed to become a postal carrier.

  • Education: You must have a high school diploma and a good command of the English language.
  • Age: 16 years or older can apply 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. If these are not things you can do you may want to create a plan to meet these requirements before applying.
  • Background Check: You will need to undergo a criminal background check, drug test and medical exam for employment.
  • Postal Exam: The 473 postal exam is a required written test. The test includes memory skills, form completion accuracy and other items and is approximately 2 hours long. There are opportunities online to get practice tests and a study guide to help you pass the test, so take advantage of these!
  • 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.

Recommended Skills For Mail Carriers

The following are the recommended skills a postal carrier should have to meet the demands of the job.

People 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.

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 average median salary for a mail carrier was $51,080 as of May 2020.

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

Mail Carrier Job Outlook

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.

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It is expected that the need for mail carriers will decline by 8% 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!

How many hours a week does a mailman work?

An average work week for a mailman with this USPS is 5 days a week at 8 hours a day for a total of 40 hours per week. Overtime and weekends are sometimes needed.

Do I need to be a US citizen to be a mail carrier?

Yes, you must be a US citizen of permanent resident to apply.

Is a drug test required to be a mailman?

Yes, you will be required to have a drug test.

Can I become a mailman with criminal background?

It depends. While USPS has hired felons, we are not clear on what the charges were. If you want to apply – be sure to note your criminal background.

*Data source: Bureau of Labor Statistic

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