How To Become A Postal Worker

Do you enjoy meeting people? How about adding a few more names to your list of fur-bearing friends? Do you have a passion for all things packaged? Do stamps have a special place in your heart? Then you may have a bright and fulfilling future as a postal worker!

How Do I Become A Postal Worker? Here are eight simple steps that take you from start to finish of becoming a USPS postal worker:

Step 1: Meet the minimum requirements for application:

  • Be 18 years old at the time of appointment or 16 years old with a high school diploma
  • Have a high school diploma or GED
  • Be a permanent resident or citizen of the United States, American Samoa, or any other U.S. held territory
  • Be registered with the Selective Service (if male)
  • Be able to pass a criminal background check, drug screening, and health exam
  • Have available your employment history
  • Have a safe driving record (not required for ALL positions)

Step 2: Visit usps.com/careers, set up an account, and complete your online profile. 

Step 3: Research available job openings with the United States Postal Service.

Step 4: Complete the online job application. 

Step 5: Successfully pass the 473-exam (or the exam required for your position).

Step 6: Post-exam, you may be asked to participate in a pre-employment interview.

Step 7: Pass a criminal background check, drug screening, and physical exam.

Step 8: Become the newest member of the USPS team!

If a career as a postal worker with the USPS is a career path you would like to follow, then this article has been designed with you in mind. We’ll cover the ins and outs of all things postal and help you in achieving your goals!

Are all postal workers mail carriers?

How to Become a Postal Worker

No not all postal workers are mail carriers. The United States Postal Service employs over 400,00 people in departments ranging from automotive technicians to maintenance to police officers to telecommunications specialists. 

As you can see, your options with the United States Postal Service are seemingly endless.

I’m listening….what’s next﹘how to apply for employment as a postal worker

If you’ve heeded the call to become the next USPS postal worker, this step-by-step guide to applying with the United States Postal Service is just what you need!

Step 1: Meet the minimum requirements for application:

  • Be 18 years old at the time of appointment or 16 years old with a high school diploma
  • Have a high school diploma or GED
  • Be a permanent resident or citizen of the United States, American Samoa, or any other U.S. held territory
  • Be registered with the Selective Service (if male)
  • Be able to pass a criminal background check, drug screening, and health exam
  • Have available your employment history
  • Have a safe driving record (not required for ALL positions)

Step 2: Visit usps.com/careers, set up an account, and complete your online profile. The website will lead you through a series of screens to complete your USPS profile. Try to be as accurate as possible when creating your profile, as it is used later on in the application process. 

How to Become a Postal Worker

Step 3: Research available job openings. Simply click the ‘apply button when you find a position that you believe is the best fit for you. By doing so, you will be directed to your USPS profile where you can directly apply for the position. 

Step 4: Complete the online job application. Be sure to be as thorough as possible and include all of your education, previous employment, accomplishments, and any other information that is relevant to the position for which you are applying (no, you don’t have to include anything about that one time in fourth grade when you came in first place for snail-eating).

How to Become a Postal Worker

Step 5: Successfully pass the 473-exam (or the exam required for your position).

Step 6: Post-exam, you may be asked to participate in a pre-employment interview. This may be a group or individual interview where you will be evaluated on the following personal characteristics:

  • Communication skills
  • Ability to adapt to changing situations
  • Level of dependability
  • Level of cooperation and ability to teamwork

All information obtained by the interviewer will be passed along to those making the final decision regarding your employment.

Step 7: Pass a criminal background check, drug screening, and physical exam.

Step 8: Become the newest member of the USPS team!

Tips and tricks for completing your postal worker job application

Here are a few helpful hints for putting your best (digital) foot forward with the USPS:

How to Become a Postal Worker
  • Give yourself ample time to complete the application. Some employment applications can take 1-2 hours to fully complete.
  • Plan to use a Windows-based computer operating system (sorry MacBook), as the digital application process for the United States Postal Service is not compatible with the operating systems of Apple products.
  • Be sure to pay close attention to any special requirements outlined in the job posting(s) you choose. The best applications will relay how your skill set, training, education, and experience line up with each of the listed requirements.
  • The application system for USPS performs best when opened with Firefox or Internet Explorer.
  • Applications fields that are marked with an asterisk (*) are mandatory. They must be completed before you can move forward with the application.
  • When completing the “summary of accomplishments” portion of the application, it is best to create a separate document that outlines how your education, training, experience, and skill set pertains to the requirements listed within the job posting.
  • I recommend that you upload or attach your most recent resume to the application, as well.

What you need to know about the postal exam.

How to Become a Postal Worker

Around 80% of all jobs within USPS require applicants to register and pass a postal exam. The remaining 20% of positions within the United States Postal Service are corporate positions and do not require testing but are based solely on your relative work experience, education, and accomplishments. 

There are numerous postal exams for the United States Postal Service and each one is position-dependent. Here are just a few of the many postal exams and the departments that require them:

  1. Exam 473—This is the most widely given exam and is required for mail carriers, mail processing clerks, mail handlers, sales, service, and distribution positions.
  2. Exam 630—Postal police officer exam.
  3. Exam 710—Clerical abilities exam for clerk, clerk-typist, and clerk-stenographer positions.
  4. Exam 744—Accounting technician applicants must take this exam.
  5. Exam 916—This test is only required for postal custodial positions.
  6. Exam 944—Only those applying for a postal automotive technician position will be required to take this exam.

Because Postal Exam 473 (Test 473 for Major Entry-Level Jobs or 473 Battery Exam) is the most widely required test, let’s touch on what it covers. Exam 473 has four parts-A, B, C, and D. 

Test PortionNumber of QuestionsTime Allotted (in minutes)Subject Covered
A Address Checking6011Determine if two addresses are identical
B Forms Completion3015Identifying information for correctly completing forms
C-1 Coding366Utilizing the correct code to assign addresses
C-2 Memory367Memorize assigned codes for address ranges
D Inventory of Personal Experiences and Characteristics23690Job-related experiences and personality characteristics
How to Become a Postal Worker

Part D of the exam is taken online when you first apply for a position. The remaining three portions will be scheduled by USPS to be taken at an approved testing facility within two weeks of passing portion D. 

Beyond your application, achieving a passing score (minimum of 70 points) on your postal exam should be one of the highest priorities on your list. The score you obtain determines your eligibility for the job you desire. Once you pass your postal exam, your name will be placed on your position’s hiring register in order of highest score to lowest. So it is important to do your best!

Handy hints for your exam

Regardless of the postal exam, you will be required to take, here are a few handy hints to help you prepare for and pass your postal exam. 

How to Become a Postal Worker

Before the exam:

  • Find a study routine that fits your learning style or a study partner who can assist you in preparing for your exam.
  • Get your rest! Be sure to get ample sleep the night before your exam.
  • Eat up! You’ll need the energy to give your best. Make sure to eat a light meal before taking your test.
  • Plan ahead! Pre-plan your route to the testing site, taking into account traffic or any other delays you may encounter along the way. Map out parking and entrances so that there is no confusion on your exam day.

During the exam:

How to Become a Postal Worker
  • Eliminate answer choices early that are obviously wrong or make no sense. Oftentimes, you can easily eliminate half of the answer choices in a multiple-choice exam utilizing this system.
  • Be wary when an answer includes words like “always, never, all, generally, or only.” Many times, these words and those like them, can be a trap. Only choose answer choices that contain these types of words if you are absolutely certain it is the correct choice.
  • If two answers have completely opposite meanings, take your time and look a bit closer at those two choices. Often, one of the two choices will be the correct one.
  • Place a mark beside questions you are unsure of and move on in your exam. Once you have completed the remainder of the test, return to the marked questions for review and final answer selection. 
  • One word can change the entire meaning of a sentence. Be sure to read each question completely before answering. 
  • Don’t let the exam overwhelm you. Build yourself up by answering questions you are certain of first. When a question leaves you confused, mark it, and move forward. When you have completed the majority of the exam, time permitting, you can return to the questions that stumped you.

Learn if Postal Workers get breaks here!

What are some of the duties and responsibilities of a postal worker?

The duties and responsibilities of a postal worker will depend on what facet of the USPS they are employed in, whether that be as a clerk, carrier, or in a different area. A few common postal duties shared by various positions include:

  • The gathering of mail from post office boxes, offices, and other postal locations.
  • Accepting incoming mail at the post office.
  • Sorting mail according to zip codes or other criteria, either by hand or with the aid of specialized machinery.
  • Delivering mail, getting signatures from recipients when required.
  • Selling postal supplies like stamps, packing boxes, and more. 

Related Questions

How much does the average postal worker make?

According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median salary for a postal service worker in 2020 was $51,150 per year ($24.59 per hour). 

What is the job outlook for postal workers?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, it is predicted that overall employment of USPS postal workers will decline 14% from 2019 to 2029 due to budget restrictions, automated sorting systems, and cluster mailboxes (free-standing, pedestal mailboxes with 8-16 individually locked mailbox compartments, commonly found in apartment complexes, townhome communities, and some residential neighborhoods).

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Please note: This blog post is for educational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. Please consult a legal expert to address your specific needs.