You want to be a carrier in the post office, but which position is best for you?
Rural Carriers all begin their career as Rural Carrier Associates (RCA). These positions are part-time, every Saturday and any time the regular carrier needs off work. In most offices, you will have to provide your own vehicle, in which you get paid an Equipment Maintenance Allowance (EMA) on top of the hourly wage. The average hourly wage is $16.00 per hour. RCA’s do not receive health benefits, but they elect to pay for their own health benefits after one year of employment. RCA’s are eligible for annual and sick leave. RCA’s are eligible to “bid” on regular rural carrier positions in their office when an opening is available. Sometimes, it can take a long time to become a regular rural carrier. Once you become a Regular Rural Carrier, then you will begin receiving health benefits, annual, sick leave and can contribute to the Thrift Savings Plan. Rural Carriers are not paid an hourly wage. The routes are evaluated; this is determined by a yearly mail count, your pay will be based on the evaluation of the route.
In some cities/towns, the rural carrier can drive as much as 100 miles per day. You will have to drive on the right hand side of the vehicle, so you would need an appropriate car. Some offices provide their rural carriers with a postal vehicle, but in most cases you would need your own. As a carrier, you are out in all types of weather; ice, snow, rain, etc. You have to be prepared for any type of weather. Rural Carriers usually spend about 2-3 hours in the office casing their mail and 4-5 hours out on the street. Of course, every day is different; it all depends on the mail volume. Mondays and the day after a holiday are usually high volume mail days. If you like driving a vehicle and being outside, this is the job for you.
City Carriers for the most part, do not drive a vehicle to deliver their mail. They may drive a postal vehicle to carry their mail and then do what is called a “Park and Loop”. They will park the vehicle and then get out and walk for several blocks delivering the mail house to house. One of the offices I worked in, we had two city carriers; one of them walked 18 miles a day and the other walked 4 miles a day. You carry your mail in a mail sack that can weigh up to 40 pounds, it’s always nice to get to that last neighborhood, the mailbag is much lighter. Being a City Carrier, you also will be working in all types of weather; snow, ice, hot, humid, etc. You will need to be prepared for all types of inclement weather.
City Carriers have to wear a uniform and will receive a uniform allowance every year to purchase the clothes that are required. Full-time City Carriers receive health benefits, annual, sick leave and can contribute to the Thrift Savings Plan.
The Postal Service hires City Carrier Assistants (CCA), which is a part-time position. The average pay for a CCA is $15.00 an hour. They are hired to work 365 days and then can be reappointed provided they are performing well. CCA’s earn 1 hour of annual leave for every 20 hours worked. They also qualify for health benefits after the 90-day probation. Unlike the RCA’s, CCA’s are not eligible to bid on City Carrier positions, if a City Carrier position is posted on eCareer, CCA’s would have to apply on eCareer and compete with everyone else.
Both positions would require taking the 473 Entrance Exam. See http://postalwork.net/eCareer_Guide.htm for a step-by-step process for applying and taking the exam. A postal exam study guide titled Post Office Jobs, the 5th edition, helps you prepare for the exam and it is available at bookstores or check out a copy from your local library.
For more information on rural mail carrier and city post office jobs, including the latest postal pay scales, visit www.postalwork.net.
Good Luck to all on your endeavors to work for the United States Postal
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.