How to get a job with the Post Office

The United States Postal Service (USPS) is an autonomous agency within the Executive Branch of the government. The USPS agency holds the distinction of being one of only a small number of federal agencies sanctioned by the US Constitution. It is the Postal Clause that authorizes the USPS agency to allow for interstate travel. Many people wonder how to get a job with the post office - find out more about the post office and different tips to use to get a job with the post office. 

The United States Postal Service is a remarkably large operation. The agency owns more than 200,000 vehicles. In 2017, the USPS employed nearly 645,000 postal workers. The sheer size of the USPS has regretfully complicated the manner in which the agency hires its workers. And while the digital employment application is accessible 24/7, the application itself is not exactly user-friendly. 

Many USPS job applicants are disqualified simply due to an avoidable clerical error. The narrative below is designed to help you navigate the USPS job application process and avoid needless mistakes.

The Post Office Employee

Those applying for any post office job must have reached the age of majority, 18 years old. However, there are exceptions to this age requirement. Those who have already graduated high school, or ended their high school education for acceptable reasons, are permitted to apply at 16.

Postal workers are generally employed in positions that require standing for long periods of time. Some USPS employees stand all day! USPS workers who drive as a part of their work responsibilities will be required to be at least 18 years old and hold a valid, unblemished driver’s license.  

U.S. post office job listings always include exact job requirements. Postal job applicants are advised to print out or save the job announcement of interest when first seen. This copy contains relevant information should a job applicant need help during the hiring process. 

Minimum Requirements for Post Office Employees

Citizenship

Applicants for postal worker jobs are not required to be a citizen of the United States, American Samoa, or any other U.S. held territory. Applicants are welcome to apply if they hold a resident status as a permanent alien resident (Green Card). A Green Card grants non-citizens the legal right to work and live in the U.S.

Applicant Suitability

Each post office job applicant is screened to establish if they meet the suitability mandates of the postal position. This suitability assessment includes a review of the applicant’s –

  • Application Interviews.
  • Employment History.
  • Selective Service Enrollment Status, if it applies. 
  • Criminal Background Check – residency requirements.

Medical Assessments begin after a job offer has been made. This is because the United States Postal Service is not allowed to ask about an applicant’s medical history due to provisions set forth by The Rehabilitation Act of 1973.  

The USPS personnel who are tasked with the responsibility of hiring postal workers must, in accordance with the Act, inquire about an applicant’s medical history subsequent to the job applicant receiving a job offer.

Postal Worker Physical Requirements

Each postal work position dictates the physical requirements of the postal worker who fills this position. For instance, letter carriers must demonstrate the ability to lift up to 70 pounds. Most jobs require a hearing test and an eyesight exam. It is noted that applicants can meet eyesight requirements with eyeglasses.

Driver's License Requirements

United State Postal Service job postings requiring the operation of a motorized vehicle are obligated to have a valid state driver’s license (from within their state of residence) for those job openings. Applicants are advised of how important it is for them to maintain a safe driving history, and that they will be required to pass a road test.

Drug Testing For Substance Abuse

The United State Postal Service seeks to ensure it maintains a drug-free work environment. This is accomplished through many internal programs that job applicants and post office workers must comply with. 

How to get a job

The Postal Exams

The 473 Postal Exam (also known as 473e)

The United State Postal Service posts its job openings online as the need arises. While the 473-exams was once given on a 2-year cycle, applicants now have the option of completing Part D of the 473-exam online at any time.  This portion of the 473-exam can now be completed without the need for a professional proctor. The 473-exam sections are as follows – 

  • Part A – Checking addresses.
  • Part B – Completing forms.
  • Part C – Coding and Memory applications.
  • Part D – Personal and Professional Experience.

When an applicant successfully completes Part D of the exam, the USPS will then schedule the applicant to sit for Parts A, B and C within 2 weeks following the date that he or she passed Part D. The final three parts of the 473-exam must be completed at a USPS approved testing facility, as these portions of the exam are required to be proctored. There is no fee to take the USPS 473-test.

When the 473-exam is completed, a job applicant can utilize their score to apply for other USPS job openings for at least several years. USPS job applicants should keep track of the test’s tracking number, as this is the identifying marker for future job applications and other communications.

The Postal 473-exam is required for more than 75% of post office jobs; the remaining USPS job openings are for positions at the corporate level. The postal positions that generally required the successful completion of the 473-exam include –

  • Rural Letter Carriers.
  • City Carriers.
  • Processing Clerks.
  • Distribution Workers.
  • Other Mail Handling Workers, among others.

Preparing for the 473-Exam

To ensure you optimize your performance on the USPS 473-exam, exam-takers are advised to sufficiently prepare for the 473-exam, before they actually sit for the exam. The most effective and efficient way to put your best foot forward is to understand what the tests cover and, to practice the test by using our free postal exam questions

If you are looking for more postal exam material, check out other resources we offer. 

How do i apply for a job at the post office?

The following step-by-step guide can be used for guidance as you begin your quest for a USPS job opportunity. It is important to work through each step before moving on to the next.

#1 – Visit the USPS Website to set up an account.

  • Pay special attention to the requirements outlined in the USPS job posting.  The best applications will show how your training, education, experience/skill set matches each of the requirements

#2 - Begin to research available postal job openings. Click the apply button when you find a post office job that interests you. This action will redirect you to your USPS profile to apply for the position.

#3 – Complete the online job application. Be thorough when completing the online application, as it is best to include all of your education, work experience, and any other previous accomplishments.

Helpful Hints for Completing the Post Office Job Application

  • A job application can take up to a couple of hours to complete entirely.
  • Job applicants should plan to use a Windows-based computer. Apple products are simply not compatible with the United States Postal Service’s digital application process. 
  • The USPS application system works best with either the Firefox or the Internet Explorer search engine. 
  • Application fields that have been identified with an asterisk (*) are mandated fields. You will not be able to move forward to the next part of the application until they have been completed.
  • If you would like more information on post office jobs, go to this resource

#4 – Successfully pass the examination.  

Helpful Hints for Taking the Postal 473-Exam

  • You will achieve your best effort if you arrive for the test well rested and well fed.
  • Plan out how you will get to the test (i.e. the route and timing) days before the actual test date. To minimize surprises, try a practice run to the designated test center before the exam date.
  • Breathe! When nervous, most people avoid taking deep breaths. Deep breathing physiologically mitigates nervousness and anticipatory stress.
  • Dedicate sufficient preparation time. 
  • Learn how to monitor the pace at which you take the 473-exam.

Exam-takers must generate a score that exceeds 70 to pass the test. The higher you score, the better chance of nabbing that postal job. 

#5 - After the exam, you may be called to participate in a pre-employment interview. This interview may be a group interview or a solo interview. The USPS interviewer is tasked with evaluating you on the following personal characteristics, attitudes, and skills - 

  • Your Communication Skills.
  • Your Ability to be Adaptable to Changing Situations.
  • Your level of Dependability.
  • Your level of Cooperation.

Ultimately, the interviewer forms a hiring recommendation that is passed along to the final decision makers.

How much does a mailman make an hour?

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that the median pay for a Postal Service Worker for 2018 was approximately $58,700. This equates to an hourly wage of $28.25. The 2018 average wage for a postal worker does not reflect the other valuable benefits for employees who work for the federal government.  These additional benefits include –

  • Admittance to the FEHB program, an acronym for the Federal Employees Federal Health Benefits program. 
  • Federally backed Vision and Dental Insurance plans. 
  • Important Long-term Care Insurance.
  • Thrift-Savings Programs.
  • Generous PTO - Paid Time Off.
  • Life Insurance.
  • Discounted Commuter Rates.

A job with the USPS is one in which you can be sure there will always be work to keep you busy. Many of the post office jobs offer a reasonable wage, remarkable benefits, and job security, compared to most non-government jobs in the 21st century.

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