Postal carriers work for the U.S. Postal Service to deliver mail to homes and businesses. They work primarily outdoors in all types of weather, and travel established routes either in trucks or on foot. No specific education is necessary, but all applicants must be over 18 and speak good English. They must also pass a written examination, after which one or two years may pass before they enter employment. Mail carriers are typically trained on the job by more experienced workers.
Mail carriers generally work full-time and earn a median $52,200 annually, with a low of $37,950 and a high of $53,700. Many carriers work part-time, however, on routes with fewer mailboxes or to fill in during busy periods or when regular carriers cannot work. They make a median $25.10 per hour, with a low of $18.25 to a high of $25.82. These figures are according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), as of May 2009.
The state with the greatest job opportunities for mail carriers is Michigan, with an employment concentration of 3.3 carriers per thousand workers. Median wages here are $23.42 hourly or $48,710 annually, which is slightly below average. The best salaries are in the District of Columbia, at $24.81 or $51,600. However, at 1.6 carriers per thousand, employment concentration here is less than half that of Michigan, making jobs harder to secure.
The metro area, including cities and counties, with the greatest employment for mail carriers is Palm Coast, Florida, with a concentration of 6.3 per thousand. Wages are below average at $21.40 or $44,520. The best-paying positions are in Fairbanks, Alaska, with compensation at $25.25 or $52,530. Employment concentration here is one-fifth that of Palm Coast at 1.1 per thousand.
The BLS predicts a decline of 1 percent for mail carriers from 2008 to 2018. This is due to the growing use of alternatives to letters, such as email. Automated mail processing systems reduce the time needed by carriers to make their deliveries, which ultimately reduces jobs. Competition for jobs will be quite strong, with the number of applicants exceeding the number of positions.
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