Types of US Postal Service Jobs

The major job categories in the U.S. Postal Service are Carrier (City, Rural Carrier, and Rural Carrier Associate)Distribution Clerk (Manual)Mail-Up Clerk (Automated)Distribution Clerk (Machine-LSM Operator)Mail HandlerMail Processor, and Flat Sorting Machine Operator. To get any of these jobs, you must get a high score on the 460 Exam and 473 Battery Test. The 460 Exam is for the Rural Carrier Associate only and the 473 Battery Test is for the other seven positions.

City, Rural & Rural Carrier Associate

Grade: Level 5
Salary Range:
Persons Eligible to Apply: Open to the general public
Examination Requirement: Must pass the 473 Battery Test and 460 Examination

As a carrier (whether city or rural) you’ll be required to sort, rack, and tie mail at the post office before you start making deliveries within your route or area of delivery. In sorting letters, you must arrange them in the same order as the streets occur on the route. Letters and magazines for occupants of an apartment complex must be tied together with a rubber band or a belt. If you make a mistake in reading an address, the letter may go into the wrong home mailbox, causing a delay in delivery. The next day, you may find a note that says, “This is not ours. Opened by mistake.” The letter might be a “deadline” letter, an order from the court, or a warning from a creditor.

As a carrier, you’ll maintain required information, record changes of addresses, maintain other reports, and forward undeliverable-as-addressed mail.

In some ways, a rural carrier’s duty is different from that of a city carrier. If you are hired as a rural carrier or a rural carrier associate, you’ll be a jack of all trades; you’ll also be a “walking post office.” You may carry stamps, scales, and other equipment and supplies to serve the people of the rural area you cover.

For this reason, you must know how to compute the cost of a piece of mail or a package whether it’s going to a neighboring city, Somalia, or Russia.

Distribution Clerk (Manual)

Grade: L-5
Salary Range:
Persons Eligible to Apply: Open to the general public Examination Requirement: Must pass the 473 Battery Test.

A clerk may be the jack-of-all-trades position in the U.S. Postal Service. If you score high on the 473 Battery Test and land a job in the Postal Service, you can be a manual distribution clerk.

As a distribution clerk, you’ll work indoors and will handle sacks of mail weighing as heavy as 70 pounds.

You’ll sort mail and distribute it by using a complicated scheme, which must be memorized. (See How to Score 95-100% on Scheme Tests, a chapter in The Book of U.S. Postal Exams by Veltisezar Bautista.) You’ll place letters or flats (magazines and pieces of mail in big envelopes) into the correct boxes or pigeonholes.

As a distribution clerk, you’ll also dump sacks of mail onto conveyors for culling and sorting; you’ll load and unload sacks and trays of mail on and off mail transporters, such as APCs (All-Purpose Containers) and BMCs (Bulk Mail Containers). As a clerk, you may also be assigned to a public counter or window, doing such jobs as selling stamps and weighing parcels, and you’ll be personally responsible for all money and stamps.

Mark-Up Clerk: Mail Forwarder

Grade: L-4
Salary Range:
Persons Eligible to Apply: Open to the general public
Examination Requirements: Applicants must pass the 473 Battery Test and a typing test.

Mark-Up clerks process mail that is undeliverable as addressed. Previously they were just known as mark-up clerks, but now they are known as mark-up clerks, automated. Your duty as a mark-up clerk, automated, consists of keying on the machine, and other related jobs.

Mark-up clerks used to mark undeliverable-as-addressed mail with rubber stamps that said “Return to Sender, Address Unknown,” etc. (But not with the words “Return to Sender, Went to Heaven or Hell!”) They used to stick, pre-printed labels with new addresses on envelopes. These labels were inserted between change-of-address cards, arranged alphabetically in an index card tray.

Today, CFS (Computerized Forwarding System) units are installed in USPS sectional centers throughout the country. If a CFS unit is to be established by a post office, or if a CFS unit needs additional employees, postal officials will have to give a 473 Battery Test. Those already in the service may get these jobs, if they wish, by bidding for positions. But they must pass a special written and typing test. Civilian employees in military headquarters or offices may also request transfer to mark-up clerks, as in other positions. But they must pass the written and typing test.

Distribution Clerk, Machine (LSM Operator)

Grade: L-6
Salary Range:
Persons Eligible to Apply: Open to the general public
Examination Requirement: Must pass the 473 Battery Test and the LSM training.

Distribution Clerks, Machine or Letter Sorting Machine (LSM) Operators are clerks who operate a machine (called a console) that is attached to a giant letter-sorting machine. The console has a keyboard similar to that of a piano. Some people say that if you’re a pianist or know how to play the piano, you’ll be a good LSM operator.

There are two kinds of LSM operators. One is assigned to learn one or more distribution “schemes”; the other is assigned to key ZIP codes.

Every post office has its schemes, based on its Zip codes. For example, Warren, Michigan has four ZIZ codes: 48089, 48091, 48092, and 48093. The scheme involves the routes to which letter carriers are assigned. For instance, a carrier may be assigned to Route 38, which covers certain streets. Sometimes a street is divided into several routes. Also, letters must be diverted to their proper routes. This is the job of an LSM operator (distribution clerk, machine). A manual distribution clerk sorts letters according to their route by putting letters into pigeonholes on a case.

If you’re assigned to key schemes, you must hit the right keys (two) on the machine (all numbers), as you read the addresses on envelopes that are moving from right to left at the speed of about 50 letters per minute.

If you’re assigned to key ZIP codes, you have to key only the first three numbers in the ZIP code. Your speed must be about 60 letters per minute. The letters you’re keying may go to different ZIP codes (for instance, Mt.Clemens: 48043, 48044, 48045, and 48046).

Mail Handler

Grade: L-4
Salary Range:
Persons Eligible to Apply: Open to the general public
Examination Requirements: Must pass the 473 Battery Test.

If you get a job as a mail handler, you’ll work mostly in the dock area, the canceling section, and the operation area. As the title indicates, you’ll load and unload mail onto and off trucks and perform duties incidental to the movement and processing of mail.

As a mail handler, your duties include separating mail sacks to go to different routes or cities; canceling parcel post stamps; rewrapping parcels; and operating canceling machines, addressographs, mimeographs, and fork-lifts.

Mail Processor

Grade: L-4
Salary Range:
Persons Eligible to Apply: Open to the general public. Occasionally, positions are open only to current employees.
Examination Requirement: Must pass the 473 Battery Test

If you’re appointed as a mail processor, you’ll process mail using a variety of automated mail processing equipment. You’ll work at the optical character reader (OCR) mail processing equipment.
Among your duties are starting and stopping equipment, culling and loading mail, clearing jams, sweeping mail from bins, and performing other related tasks.

Flat Sorting Machine Operator

Grade: L-5
Salary Range:
Persons Eligible to Apply: Open to the general public
Examination Requirement: Must pass the 473 Battery Test

As a flat-sorting machine operator, your major duty is to operate a single- or multi-position operator-paced electromechanical machine in the distribution of flats. (Flats are mailed material mostly contained in manila envelopes and other self-sealed mail, and are fed to the machine by an operator to go to different cities or routes.) You may also be assigned to work in other areas as needed.

Here are other jobs open to the Public. (Applicants are required to pass examinations.The total qualifications will be evaluated on the basis of the results of the writgten test and the review panel’s evaluation of the applicant’s work experience.)

Area Maintenance Specialist, Grade: L-7
Area Maintenance Technician, Grade L-8
Assistant Engineman, Grade: L-5
Automotive Mechanic, Grade: L-6
Blacksmith-Welder, Grade: L-7
Building Maintenance Custodian, Grade L-4
Building Equipment Mechanic, Grade L-7
Carpenter, Grade: L-6
Clerk-Stenographer, L-5
Clerk-Typist, L-5
Data Conversion Operator
Electronics Technician, L-
Elevator Mechanic, Grade: L-7
Engineman, Grade: L-6
Garageman, Grade: L-5
General Mechanic, Grade: L-5
Industrial Equipment Mechanic, Grade: L-6
Letter Box Mechanic, Grade: L-6
Machinist, Grade: L-7
Maintenance Electrician, Grade: L-7
Maintenance Mechanic
Mechanic Helper, Grade: L-4
Motor Vehicle Operator, Grade: L-5
Oiler, MPE
Painter, Grade: L-6
Plumber, Grade: L-6
Postal Machines Mechanic, L-6
Postal Maintenance Trainee
Scale Mechanic
Stationary Engineer, Grade: L-7
Trailer-Trailer Operator

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