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How to Become a Mailman

Two Parts:Applying for the JobPreparing for Pre-employment Screening

Becoming a mail carrier can be a good choice for someone beginning a first career or changing careers later in life. In general, these positions require little to no education or previous experience while offering excellent compensation and benefits.[1] The exact job description, requirements, application, and pre-employment screening process for a mail carrier will vary depending on location. However, there are some general steps you will need to take to become a letter carrier.

Part 1
Applying for the Job

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    Decide if being a mail carrier is right for you. Before beginning the application process, you will need to figure out if you would be happy as a letter carrier. Like all jobs, this will depend on your personality, lifestyle, and skill set.
    • The happiest and most effective letter carriers will be "morning people." Most postal carriers start their day at 7 am and finish around 3 pm. If you're an early-riser who would like to avoid rush-hour traffic, you may be an excellent fit.[2]
    • The typical workday for most mail carriers is a physically strenuous one. Your job will likely consist of a lot of walking and lifting heavy objects. If you do not enjoy physical activity or you have health problems that would make these tasks difficult or impossible, you would probably be better suited for a different job.
    • Unless you live in a dense urban center, you will need to be a skilled driver. The mail needs to be delivered no matter the road conditions. If you are prone to traffic accidents or you find driving to be stressful, this may not be the right career for you.[3]
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    Look for open letter carrier positions in your area. While these jobs used to be listed at the local post office, most countries now use online application systems. Simply visit the appropriate website and use the search function to find jobs near your home.
    • The United States Postal Service (USPS), Canada Post, and Australia Post all list available positions on the organizations' websites under "Careers" or "About Us."[4][5][6]
    • While most Royal Mail positions in the UK are posted on the company's website, others are posted elsewhere. Use both the Royal Mail's webpage under "Careers" and the government-sponsored website Universal Jobmatch to search for open positions.
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    Determine if you meet the job requirements. In general, letter carriers will have qualifications based on levels of physical fitness, driving record, and reading ability.
    • The USPS requires that all applicants must be citizens or legal residents of the United States and either at least 18 years old, or 16 with a high school diploma. Carriers may also be required to lift up to 70 lbs (about 32 kilos) and have a safe driving record, depending on the position. Successful applicants must also pass a criminal background check, drug screening, medical assessment, and aptitude test specific for letter carriers called Exam 473. Preferential selection will be given to veterans of the US armed forces.[7][8][9]
    • Canada Post requests that all applicants must be able to lift packages weighing up to 22.7 kilos (50 lbs), carry loads up to 15.9 kilos (35 lbs), and climb stairs in inclement weather. They must also have a valid driver's license with a three year satisfactory safe driving record. Applicants will also be evaluated based on their organizational and customer service skills.[10]
    • Australia Post has different job requirements for different types of "postal delivery officer" dependent on the specific mode of transportation used, including walking. In general, all must be able to lift and carry up to 16 kilos (roughly 35 lbs) and have excellent interpersonal communication skills.[11]
    • Letter carriers in the UK are generally required to lift up to 16 kilos (roughly 35 lbs) and pass an aptitude test. When applying for a delivery driver position, the applicant must have a full UK driving license with no more than 6 penalty points.[12]
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    Gather necessary documentation. You will need information about past employment and education records. You will also need to have relevant government identification numbers, such as your social security number if you live in the US, and your driver's license if required.
    • In the US, to claim veteran's preference, you must have a digital copy of your Certificate of Release or Discharge from Active Duty or other proof of past service.
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    Complete the online application. Set aside enough time to finish it without distractions. Find a quiet place and a compatible Internet browser in which to fill out the online employment application. Not all browser versions are supported. If you're having difficulty getting a webpage to display correctly, try viewing it on a different browser. For most application websites, Java scripting must be enabled.

Part 2
Preparing for Pre-employment Screening

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    Familiarize yourself with required aptitude tests. In the US, entry-level postal workers take Exam 473. Many websites offer testing guides that can be purchased. These guides are also available at most local libraries.[13]
    • Exam 473 consists of sections on address checking, accurate form completion, mail coding, short term memory, and personality.[14] While there aren't specific answers you can study for, being familiar with the exam's format will help you to relax and do your best.
    • Applicants in most other countries must take similar but not identical exams.
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    Schedule and complete your exams. In the US, qualified applicants are immediately invited to take an online version of Exam 473 upon completion of their application both on screen and via email. This must typically be done in a specified timeframe (usually 3 to 7 days). If an applicant passes the online assessment, he or she must then schedule an in-person exam at a testing center designated by personal zip code.
    • The online and onsite versions of Exam 473 each typically take 90 minutes to complete.
    • If you pass Exam 473 but are not offered a job, your score will still be valid for 6 years. You will not have to retake the exam within this time period.
    • If your score is below the eligibility threshold, you will not be able to retake Exam 473 for 120 days.[15]
    • In other countries, you may find out by phone or email. Screening exams are often taken the same day as the job interview.
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    Prepare for your interview. If you are invited on an interview, make sure you are prepared for it. General job interview skills are required with a few additions.
    • If the position has fitness requirements, keep your body healthy and well-rested.
    • If the a drug screening is part of the application process, refrain from heavy alcohol use and any kind of elicit substance in the weeks leading up to your interview. Avoid foods (such as poppy seeds) and over-the-counter medications (like cough syrup) that can cause a false positive on a drug screen. Notify the laboratory of all medications you are currently taking or have taken recently, especially if you've been prescribed controlled substances (such as treatments for chronic pain and ADHD) or medications known to cause false positives (like most antidepressants).[16][17][18]


  • If you don't have a home computer or Internet access, you can apply using the tools available at your local library.
  • Beware of Internet postal exam scams that promise USPS positions for a testing fee. There is no fee for taking the postal exam. Contact the US Postal Inspection Service, the Federal Trade Commission and the state attorney general or Better Business Bureau to report postal exam scams.
  • Don't get discouraged if you never hear back about your application. Just keep applying each time you find an open local position. Remember that thousands of applicants may have applied to the same position and that often the recruitment process depends on luck and timing.[19]

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