The U.S. Postal Service employed more than 343,000 mail carriers as of 2008, the latest year for which such figures are available, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. In his distinguishable delivery wagon and navy uniform, the mailman is a familiar figure for Americans everywhere. If the idea of being a letter carrier sounds appealing, then a job as a mailman might be for you. As with any career, it’s important to understand how much you can expect to make before heading down the road to becoming a mailman.
By the Numbers
Mailmen working for the U.S. Postal Service can expect to make between $37,077 and $62,631, according to Pay Scale. Those at the beginning of their careers are likely to earn on the lower end of that spectrum. The BLS reported that in 2008, mail carriers made, on average, between $37,400 and $52,400.
By the Hour
As of May 2010, the BLS reported that mailmen in the U.S. earning in the lowest 10 percent -- likely those at the earliest points in their postal careers - earned on average $18.51 per hour. The bottom 25 percent earned $22.17 hourly.
Salary figures alone do not tell the complete story. Mail carriers are federal employers, so even in their first year of employment, they enjoy a wide variety of benefits available to federal employees. When pensions, tuition benefits and health insurance are taken into consideration, a starting mailman’s overall compensation package may start to look less modest.
The number of available mailman positions is expected to decline through 2018 due to increasing automation. Competition is already keen for these jobs because they offer attractive compensation packages despite having pretty lax entry requirements. In any market, when there are more people willing to do a job than there are positions, pay tends to stay static or go down. Thus, starting salary figures may remain unchanged for some time.
Letter carriers truly earn their pay. They do a lot more than deliver mail, and they put in long hours, typically arriving at their postal office early and going back in the afternoon after their routes have been completed. Thus, a starting mailman may not feel adequately compensated for their jobs, but as they gain years on the job and their pay increases, the job can become increasingly attractive.
Cynthia Gomez has been writing and editing professionally for more than a decade. She is currently an editor at a major publishing company, where she works on various trade journals. Gomez also spent many years working as a newspaper reporter. She holds a bachelor's degree in journalism from Northeastern University.