December 22, 2022
The USPS (United States Postal Service) typically handles 425.3 million mail items daily, 17.7 million per hour, 295,000 per minute, and 5,000 per second.
Moreover, the U.S. Postal Service reported that the average time for delivering mail across the USPS network is 2.7 days.
One crucial factor in delivering a massive volume of mail in a relatively short time is the availability of trained mail handlers. These professionals are primarily responsible for processing and sorting mail.
Are you wondering about the duties and responsibilities of a mail handler? What is it like to work as one? What is the average pay for these professionals?
Additionally, you may have questions about the prerequisites to becoming a mail handler. What education, skills, and experience do you need to become a mail handler?
How about the requirements for becoming a correctional officer? Do you need a bachelor’s degree? Is casework experience a requirement? What are the characteristics of an excellent mail handler?
Moreover, you may also be curious about how the postal service manages and processes your mail.
FindPostOffice.org is a comprehensive online resource for learning postal service-related topics. This site also offers an online search tool that can provide information regarding post offices across the country.
Read on to know more about the duties, work environment, and job outlook of the mail handler position.
What Is a Mail Handler?
Mail handlers organize and process mail for a private company or a government-run organization, such as the USPS.
Mail Handler Duties and Responsibilities
The NPMHU (National Postal Mail Handlers Union) lists the following mail handler duties and responsibilities:
- Unload the trucks’ mail. Separate received mail from trucks and conveyors for delivery to other conveying units and distribution sites.
- Place empty sacks or pouches on racks. Label these items where prearranged or where racks are marked.
- Dump mail from sacks, cut ties, and face letter mail, then carry this mail to distributors for processing.
- Place processed mail into sacks and remove filled sacks and pouches from racks, then close and lock them.
- Gather the bags, pouches, and exterior parts.
- Separate outgoing bulk mail for dispatch and load it onto trucks.
- Handle and dispose of empty equipment.
- Inspecs empty equipment for mail and restring sacks.
- Cancel stamps on parcel post and operate canceling machines.
- Carry mail from the canceling machine to the distribution cases.
- Help supply and slip facilities and operate copy machines and other office equipment.
Additionally, mail handlers may perform the following specific duties:
- Make occasional simple distribution of parcel post mail.
- Use electric forklifts.
- Rewrap damaged packages.
- Weigh incoming sacks.
- Clean and sweep work areas, restrooms, offices, and trucks where the maintenance staff does not usually perform work.
Furthermore, with authorization from the Chief Postal Inspector, mail handlers act as armed guards for valuable registry shipments and watchmen and guards around the post office establishment.
Mail handlers spend much of their time indoors sorting and routing mail. However, these professionals may also need to go outside occasionally to load and unload mail trucks.
Mail handling comes with significant risk. Sometimes, mail handlers must operate heavy machinery during the sorting process and stand for long periods (eight or more hours daily). Still, these employees seldom work night shifts and do not typically exceed the 40-hour work week.
Who Does a Mail Handler Report to?
The mail handler typically reports to the mail room supervisor to receive any tasks or ask queries regarding their specific duties.
Most post offices have mail room supervisors responsible for monitoring the entire post office’s service performance.
Suppose the mail handler experiences difficulties dealing with a particular client. In that case, these professionals ask for the mail room supervisor’s assistance resolving the issue.
Mail Handler: Required Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities
Generally, mail handlers must be able to display the following characteristics, skills, and abilities:
- Physical fitness, manual skills, and the ability to use hands in sorting mail efficiently
- Close attention to detail, mainly when operating heavy machinery
- Ability to work while standing for an extended period
- Ability to lift 50 or more pounds regularly
- Time management skills and multi-tasking ability
- Ability to perform tasks chronologically and according to a fixed system or process
- Ability to instantly determine similarities and differences between sets of documents, letters, postcards, and parcels
Education and Training Requirements
The mail handler position does not typically require a minimum level of educational attainment. However, applicants need to obtain at least a high school diploma because mail handling requires a good command of English.
Displaying speed and accuracy when checking names and numbers is also a requirement.
Candidates must also be able to pass the postal service exam if they want to work for the USPS. This condition applies to all postal service workers, including assistant rural carriers, city carrier assistants, and mail processing clerks.
Mail handlers who work for private companies may not have to take the test. However, individuals interested in working for the USPS must pass the postal service exam to demonstrate that they understand the position’s challenges.
Many mail handlers have completed their internship training and participate in temporary apprenticeship programs to demonstrate their aptitude.
On the other hand, as long as a candidate can complete the tasks assigned to them, most businesses will not require mail handlers to have any prior mail handling expertise.
As of July 2022, the average annual salary for the mail handler position in the United States is $56,860.
The highest-paid mail handler in the USPS earned $65,353 in 2014.
MHA (Mail Handler Assistant)
MHA or mail handler assistants must be able to load, unload, and move mail and packages.
Suppose you want to work as an MHA. In that case, you will need to perform other duties related to the processing and transporting of mail.
The MHA job position could be suitable for you if you want to stay active in a collaborative setting with a strong emphasis on ergonomics and safety.
Below is the job description for mail handler assistants:
- Taking moderate to heavy mail off of trucks and sorting equipment, loading, lifting, and carrying it.
- Sorting outgoing bulk mail, then loading them into delivery trucks.
- Transporting mail to the distribution area while using machinery.
- Carrying out various tasks, including weighing mail and rewrapping damaged packages.
How Much Does a Mail Handler Assistant Earn?
As of August 2022, the average annual salary for the mail handler assistant position in the United States is $32,309.
Postal Service Workers
Postal service employees often do the following:
- Gather letters and packages.
- For registered, certified, and insured mail, obtain client signatures.
- Sort incoming mail and packages.
- Sell postage stamps and other postal goods.
- Operate a variety of postal machinery.
- Send out incoming mail using postal trucks.
For delivery to residences, businesses, and post office boxes, postal service employees receive and sort mail. Employees may fall under different categories depending on the kind of work they do.
The following list indicates the categories of postal service workers and their typical roles and responsibilities:
- Postal service mail carriers usually deliver mail to businesses and residences in towns, cities, and rural regions. Most of these employees travel predetermined routes, delivering and collecting mail.
Mail carriers may travel by foot, truck, or a combination of both. On the other hand, some mail carriers receive money for postage due. Others sell postal items, particularly in rural locations, such as stamps and money orders.
Moreover, all mail carriers must be able to answer clients’ questions regarding postal policies and services and, upon request, give change-of-address cards and other postal forms.
- Postal service mail sorters, processors, and processing machine operators organize incoming and outgoing mail so post offices and mail distribution facilities can distribute them.
These professionals also transfer mail and load and unload postal trucks throughout processing sites. They also control and modify equipment used for sorting and processing mail.
- Postal service clerks sell stamps, money orders, postal stationery, mailing envelopes, and boxes in post offices throughout the country.
These professionals register, certify, insure mail, calculate and collect postage, and respond to queries about other postal regulations. They may also help sort mail.
- Is the USPS mail handler position a good job?
It is a subjective task to assess whether working as a mail handler in the USPS is good. You should get various answers to questions about the quality of the USPS mail handler position.
As with other professions, the employee’s experience is one of the primary factors determining if the position is good.
Moreover, each employee will have a slightly different idea of the qualities determining the job is good.
However, you can typically assume that a good job pays well, has a work/life balance, plenty of advancement opportunities, competent management, and positive workplace culture.
You should also research several job survey sites because the information is subjective and difficult to assess unless you have personally worked in the position.
Check out trusted sites that allow employees to rate their workplace, including USPS, based on various factors. These sites usually give the overall rating of workplaces based on survey participants’ (employees’) satisfaction.
- What settings do mail handlers typically work in?
In a mail room, mail handlers often spend most of their time arranging and adequately routing the mail. In addition, these professionals may go outside to help mail carriers load and unload various mail trucks.
Mail handlers may also spend considerable time operating heavy equipment to organize and carry heavier goods.
For customer service and mail-related difficulties, some mail handlers need to work in the front office.
Furthermore, a mail handler should also accompany mail carriers on the road when they have a lot of packages and letters to deliver in a single day.
There is also a possibility for mail handlers to make occasional deliveries to recipients’ homes or places of business.
- Who does a mail handler work with?
When necessary, a mail handler organizes and transports packages with the assistance of other staff members in small teams.
Additionally, mail handlers collaborate with mail clerks to distribute letters around the company.
- Is a mail handler job hard?
Whether full-time or part-time, mail handling may be challenging, depending on the employee’s training and characteristics. For instance, the profession requires employees to stand for long periods and lift heavy objects.
Moreover, sorting and labeling mail often requires fast hands and quick thinking.
- What is the difference between a mail handler and a mail carrier?
A mail handler and a mail carrier have different tasks and responsibilities, even though they may work in the same post office and handle various packages and mail items.
Mail handlers typically sort and prepare the mail before placing it on the mail carriers’ trucks.
The mail carriers will then carry the loaded items and deliver them along a fixed route to each residence or place of business.
Additionally, mail carriers must obtain signatures for specific postal items and collect payment for letters or parcels that require postage.
The mail carrier could help mail handlers sort through and get the mail items ready for delivery when the mailroom is busy.
Similarly, mail handlers may help mail carriers if they have a lot of stuff to carry and deliver.
- What makes a good mail handler?
A competent mail handler must be able to pay great attention to details to ensure the correct sorting of items in the mailroom.
- Is being a mail handler assistant worth it?
If you like organizing and labeling things, being a mail handler assistant can be an excellent job opportunity.
1. Postal Facts
2. USPS Reports 2.7 Average Days To Deliver Mail And Packages Across Network
3. Mail Handler, MH-04
4. USPS® Online Job Application System – Assessment & Examination
5. Mail Handler Salary in the United States
6. Pay Rates for “Mail Handler”
7. Career opportunities
8. Mail Handler Assistant Salary
9. What Postal Service Workers Do