The Postal Inspection Service defends us from criminals who attack our nation’s postal system and/or misuse it to endanger, defraud, or otherwise threaten the American public. As the primary law enforcement arm of the Postal Service, the Postal Inspection Service is a highly specialized, professional organization performing investigative and security functions essential to a stable and sound postal system.
Congress empowered the Postal Service “to investigate postal offenses and civil matters relating to the Postal Service.” Through its security and enforcement functions, the Postal Inspection Service provides assurance to American businesses for the safe exchange of funds and securities through the U.S. mail; to postal customers in the transmission of correspondence and messages; and to provide postal employees with a safe work environment.
Postal inspectors are federal law enforcement officers who carry firearms, make arrests, and serve federal search warrants and subpoenas. Inspectors work closely with U.S. Attorneys, other law enforcement agencies and local prosecutors to investigate postal cases and prepare them for court. There are approximately 1,750 postal inspectors stationed through-out the United States, covering investigations of crimes that adversely affect or fraudulently use the postal system.
U.S. Postal Inspectors are federal law enforcement agents with investigative jurisdiction in all criminal matters involving the integrity and security of the U.S. Postal Service.
Postal Inspectors investigate criminal, civil, and administrative violations of postal-related laws, often using forensics and cutting-edge technologies. It is essential that Postal Inspectors be in sound physical condition and be capable of performing rigorous physical activities on a sustained basis. They are required to:
- Carry firearms
- Make arrests
- Provide testimony
- Serve subpoenas
- Execute search warrants
- Prepare comprehensive reports
- Pursue and restrain suspects
- Protect themselves and others from imminent danger
Postal Inspectors work long and irregular hours, and must be willing to relocate. Competition is intense for the relatively few positions. Candidates must successfully complete all phases of the recruitment process and begin their first duty assignment prior to their 37th birthday.
You may be eligible to become a Postal Inspector if you:
- Are an American citizen between the ages of 21 and 36½. * and are interested in an exciting and rewarding career in federal law enforcement. (Male citizens born after December 31, 1959, must have registered with the Selective Service before applying to become a Postal Inspector.)
- Possess a conferred, four-year degree from an accredited college or university
- Have no felony or domestic violence convictions
- Are in good physical condition
- Write and speak English
- Are willing to relocate
There are four special knowledge tracks that make applicants more competitive for the position of Postal Inspector: language skills, postal experience, specialized non-postal skills, and academic achievement. Candidates without special knowledge will be only minimally qualified.
Determine your eligibility
There are several ways to qualify for Postal Inspector positions. Applicants must meet the general eligibility requirements or qualify under specific academic achievement criteria with or without work experience.
- Academic Achievement with work experience. Candidates with at least one year of full-time work experience with the same company, within two years of the date of their application, are eligible under this skill track.
- Candidates with a Bachelor’s degree (B.A. or B.S. in any field) must have two years of full-time work experience.
- Candidates with an Advanced degree (M.A., M.S., or Ph.D. in any field) must have one year of full-time work experience.
- Academic Achievement without work experience. Candidates with a Bachelor’s degree (a B.A. or B.S. in any field) and a cumulative grade point average (GPA) of 3.0 or higher (on a 4.0 scale) or its equivalent, or an advanced degree (J.D., M.A., M.S., or Ph.D. in any field) are eligible under this skill track.
Basic Inspector Training is mandatory and provided at their Career Development Unit (CDU). All new hires must complete course work in four areas:
- Physical fitness and defensive tactics
- Practical exercises
Candidates must successfully complete all program areas and achieve specific minimum academic and performance levels to graduate. Graduation from basic training is a condition of employment. Failure to meet the minimum academic and performance levels will result in the termination of the appointment.
How to Apply
The Postal Inspection Service advertises vacancies during open hiring periods announced on the U.S Postal Inspection website. You can only apply during an open period and at that time you may complete an application online. Check their site frequently to find job announcements. If you miss an open period you will have to wait until new job announcements are posted to submit an application.
If positions aren’t currently available for postal inspectors explore related law enforcement occupations. The federal government employs 192,929 in the Inspection, Investigation, Enforcement and Compliance GS-1800 Group including 3,800 employed overseas. Review all of your options in law enforcement to improve your chances of landing a high paying, secure, and rewarding law enforcement career.
Review our list of law enforcement hiring agencies that includes the total number employed in each job series and the number employed by each of the hiring agencies. Click on the job title for comprehensive job descriptions that include current federal job vacancies for each occupation.
Forensic Laboratory Services
The U.S. Postal Inspection Service also maintains a National Forensic Laboratory in Dulles, VA. The facility employs technical specialists and forensic scientists that support the postal inspectors in the identification, apprehension, prosecution, and conviction of criminals that commit postal-related offenses. The lab provides scientific and technical expertise to the criminal and security investigations of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service. Laboratory services are divided into the four units listed below:
- Questioned Document
- Physical Sciences
- Digital Evidence
Employment opportunities exist at the forensic laboratory services facility in a number of related occupations. Positions such as forensic chemists, information technologist, physical evidence analysts, fingerprint identification and others are needed to provide these essential services.
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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 nor author shall be liable for any loss or any other commercial damages, including but not limited to special, incidental, consequential, or other damages.