Qualifications for Being a Postman Letter Carrier

Postmen work rain or shine to deliver the mail to our doors.
Postmen work rain or shine to deliver the mail to our doors. (Image: Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images)

Postmen, also known as postal service letter carriers or mail carriers, work for the U.S. Postal Service. Their primary job responsibility is to deliver the daily mail to designated residences and businesses on their postal routes. They get around either on foot or in specially designed postal trucks. Most letter carriers start their route very early in the morning and must deliver the mail six days a week, even in foul weather. Qualifications for a postman are minimal, though certain training and background requirements must be met.

Background Requirements

Before becoming a letter carrier, you must meet the necessary background requirements established by the U.S. Postal Service. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, all applicants must be at least 18 years old and either be U.S. citizens or have permanent resident-alien status in the United States. Applicants must also undergo a thorough criminal background check, and pass a drug test and a physical examination. All postmen must be able to lift a sack of mail weighing up to 70 pounds; they are considered unfit for the job if they cannot. Letter carriers must also have a safe driving record and pass a road test specifically designed for the profession. Strong interpersonal skills and a good memory are essential for the job.

Education and Training

Formal education requirements are minimal for letter carriers. The Bureau of Labor Statistics says that applicants must be able to speak and understand the English language. They should also be able to process basic arithmetic and numbers, follow directions well, and utilize other skills taught in elementary education. High school graduates are preferred and many offices require a diploma or GED equivalent. Training for postmen happens on the job with more experienced members of the postal service. Trainees take classes that teach safe and defensive driving.


All letter carrier applicants must pass a written examination before they can be hired. This exam tests essential job skills, such as their ability to accurately and quickly check names and numbers, and to memorize mail carrying procedures. Those who complete the exam receive a score, and their names are then listed according to the number they received. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, applicants who are veterans of the U.S. Military receive an additional five points on their exam score, and those who were injured in combat receive an extra 10 points.

Career Advancement

Mail carriers can advance to supervisory positions after years of experience and strong job performance. They may also be asked to take over preferred delivery routes when senior members of the postal service retire or leave for another reason. The pay for letter carriers is determined by their hours, their performance rating and the size of the post office, according to Education-portal.com.

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