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Custodian Jobs With the USPS

Labor Custodians play a major role in the United States Postal Service. They are responsible for the daily manual labor in connection with maintenance and cleaning of the buildings and grounds of a postal facility. The job is physically demanding, requiring both indoor and outdoor responsibilities. They are responsible for such duties as clearing sidewalks and driveways of snow and ice to mopping floors and dusting furniture and fixtures. Applicants must be able to perform the duties of the position with or without accommodation. Labor Custodians are used in the processing and distribution plants as well as some of the larger post offices.


Hundreds of Custodians are employed by the USPS. The starting pay is $13.25 an hour and they are paid under the APWU pay schedule. The Mid-America district office in Kansas City, MO, is located in their Western Region and they employ 197 career custodians to service facilities in their area. The Mid-America district office is one of 67 nationwide.


  • Makes or assists in making minor maintenance repairs to building and equipment.
  • In smaller buildings assist the fireman-laborer in firing the boiler; in firemen-laborer’s absence fires and clean the boiler.
  • Operates a variety of power driven equipment such as floor scrubbers, floor sanders, waxers, and wall washers; adjusts brushes, buffers, and other attachments on machines; uses wax, polish, and other protective agents appropriate for the various; surfaces; washes walls and ceilings from scaffolding.
  • Performs general laboring duties such as uncrating and assembling furniture and fixtures using bolts and screws for assembly, loading and unloading supplies and equipment.
  • Performs janitorial duties such as cleaning, scrubbing, waxing, and polishing floors; washes walls and ceiling; dusts furniture and fixtures; cleans hardware and toilet fixtures; washes windows; cares for lawns and shrubs; cleans sidewalks and driveways and removes ashes, snow and ice.
  • In addition, may: operate elevator, stack supplies in storage rooms and on shelves; move furniture and equipment.

Applicants must successfully complete Postal Service Test 916. This custodial exam is made up of 60 multiple-choice questions. There are four parts:

  • Vocabulary
  • Safely basics
  • General Cleaning
  • Following Instructions

Sample questions could include the following: (More sample questions are provided in the 6th edition of Post Office Jobs.)

1. Avoid breathing caustic product fumes. Caustic most nearly means:

A. Harmful
B. Cleaning
C. Safety
D. Helpful
E. Degenerative

2. Which of these would you use to clean a concrete floor?

A. Mop
B. Scraper
C. Wire Brush
D. Detergent
E. All of the Above

3. What must you do when working in an area with high dust levels?

A. Hold your breath while cleaning the area
B. Put a handkerchief over your nose and mouth
C. Wait until the dust settles
D. Wear an approved protective mask provided by your employer
E. Wear gloves to keep dust off your hands

This position is restricted to applicants eligible for veterans’ preference.

Note: Applicants who are not entitled to veterans’ preference may be considered only when preference eligible applicants are not available for appointment.

Not all veterans receive preference for federal civilian employment, and not all active duty service qualifies for Veterans’ Preference. Only veterans discharged or released from active duty in the Armed Forces under honorable conditions are eligible for Veterans Preference. Preference eligible vets must have been discharged under an honorable or general discharge. There are two types of preference eligible; those with a service-connected disability and those without.

Vets without a Service Connected Disability (5-point Preference) entitles you to be hired before a non-veteran whose application is rated in your category. To meet this criterion, your service must meet one of the following conditions;

  • 180 or more consecutive days, any of which occurred during the period beginning September 11, 2001 and ending on a future date prescribed by Presidential proclamation or law as the last date of Operation Iraqi Freedom, OR
  • Between August 2, 1990 and January 2, 1992 OR
  • 180 or more consecutive days, any part of which occurred after January 31, 1955 and before October 15, 1976, OR
  • In a war, campaign or expedition for which a campaign badge has been authorized or between April 28, 1952 and July 1, 1955.

Vets with a Service Connected Disability (10-Point Preference) – You are a 10-point preference eligible if you served at any time and you:

  • Have a service connected disability
  • Received a Purple Heart
  • Are the spouse, widow, widower or mother of a deceased or disabled veteran.

If interested in custodian position or any other positions at the United States Postal Service, please visit http://www.postalwork.net to begin your job search. Good luck in your job-hunting endeavors. Use our Postal Job Guide to familiarize yourself with the application process and for links to the official Post Office recruiting web site.

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The information provided may not cover all aspects of unique or special circumstances, federal and postal regulations, and programs are subject to change. Our articles and replies are time sensitive. Over time, various dynamic human resource guidance and factors relied upon as a basis for this article may change. The advice and strategies contained herein may not be suitable for your situation and this service is not affiliated with OPM, the postal service or any federal entity. You should consult with school counselors, hiring agency personnel offices, and human resource professionals where appropriate. Neither the publisher or author shall be liable for any loss or any other commercial damages, including but not limited to special, incidental, consequential, or other damages.

About The Author

I began my postal career on June 1, 1991 at the General Mail Facility in Kansas City KS as a Distribution Clerk. Wanting to get closer to home, I transferred to the Pleasant Hill Post Office in Pleasant Hill MO in August of 1993. I have also worked in the Greenwood MO and Bates City MO Post Offices. I began a two year NTE detail in Personnel in October 2003, which turned into 5 years. I was responsible for the hiring of career and non-career employees in the 700+ offices in Missouri and Kansas. This was a very challenging and rewarding position. I retired February 28, 2013 and have been enjoying my free time with my husband, Denny.