Home / Career Guides / Mail Handler

Mail Handler Career Guide

Are you reliable, fast, and organized? Are you able to work on your feet for long periods of time? A role as a mail handler might be the right job for you.

Mail handlers work in post office mailrooms where they sort and prepare mail batches for mail carriers to distribute. They organize letters, fill containers, and move large packages using machinery and other sorting equipment. Mail handlers load mail onto trucks for the mail carriers. 

Mail handlers may also work at the post office’s front desk as a clerk where they sell stamps and boxes to consumers. They also weigh packages to obtain the correct postage needed for the packages to arrive at their destination on time.

Some mail handlers work in company mailrooms, where they accept and sort incoming mail from mail carriers and package delivery companies, and distribute the mail to the correct person or department. They may be required to use machinery for larger packages.

Sample job description

[Your Company Name] is looking to hire mail handlers to help sort and load our company’s mail. You will be responsible for scanning, stacking, palletizing, wrapping, and loading mail into trailers throughout your shift. Mail handlers ensure that all approved mail is correctly and completely handled according to schedules and internal controls using multiple software applications and floor organization skills. An ideal candidate follows instructions and activities coordinated by the mail expeditors and supervisors to ensure that the mail is properly handled and prepared for USPS, UPS, and FedEx approval and delivery.

Typical duties and responsibilities

  • Unload trucks, move mail bags, and weigh incoming sacks
  • Maintain mailroom supplies
  • Pack promotional material
  • Call courier services
  • Load trucks services
  • Operate sorting and other machinery to sort packages
  • Operate forklifts and other vehicles to load mail onto trucks
  • Work as a front counter clerk to sell stamps, boxes, and other items
  • Organize mail according to address and location and distribute it to mail carriers
  • Weighs packages and applies the correct postage for consumers

Education and experience

  • High school diploma or its equivalent
  • For the United States Postal Service, you must pass the postal service exam

Required skills and qualifications

  • Good physical fitness
  • The ability to lift up to 50 pounds
  • Ability to stand or walk for long periods
  • Good manual dexterity 
  • Detail-oriented
  • Ability to perform tasks in chronological order and according to a set system

Preferred qualifications

  • Familiar with basic computer software, such as Microsoft Excel
  • Prior experience in a similar line of work
  • Experience operating forklifts

Typical work environment

Mail handlers typically work indoors sorting and routing mail. They are required to stand for extended periods, which might be up to eight hours a day. They load mail trucks all year round, so they have to spend some time out in all weather conditions. They work with large machinery to sort mail, which can be potentially dangerous, so they have to be focused and adhere to safety protocols. They also have to lift heavy packages that can weigh up to 50 pounds at times.

Typical hours

Mail handlers usually work 40 hours per week, which includes weekends. The environment can be stressful while handling multiple projects at the same time to meet deadlines. 

Available certifications

Although no certifications are required for mail handlers, the United States Postal Service offers three certification courses that focus on the different aspects of the mailing industry. 

  • Mail Design Professional (MDP). This certification course provides candidates with in-depth training on postal standards related to designing letters and flat mail, with a focus on the guidelines found in the Domestic Mail Manual. The MDP demonstrates that you have met the standards that help prevent small or large production errors that can cost a business thousands of dollars. The MDP certification is valid for two years.
  • Certified Direct Mail Professional (CDMP). The CDMP course is intended for mailing industry professionals who want to develop and strengthen the core skills to maintain a successful direct mail business within this highly competitive environment. The course topics include predictive modeling, return-on-investment, and direct mail campaign testing strategies. The CDMP is a lifetime certification course.
  • Executive Mail Center Manager (EMCM). The EMCM certification course is a comprehensive training program created for individuals who wish to develop mail center management skills. The course emphasizes proficiency in mail center management and builds the skills needed to manage mail centers more effectively, boost productivity, and reduce costs. The EMCM is a lifetime certification course. 

Career path

To start on the path to becoming a mail handler, you must possess a high school diploma or its equivalent. No experience is required, however, candidates who apply to the United States Postal Service have to pass a postal service exam and take a test that demonstrates their ability to check names and numbers with speed and accuracy. They also are required to be U.S. citizens or permanent residents, and they must be at least 18 years old. Candidates are also required to pass a drug test and register with the selective service if applicable. 

Mail handlers receive on-the-job training. The career path can lead mail handlers into positions such as senior mail clerk or a supervisory role.    

US, Bureau of Labor Statistics’ job outlook

SOC Code: 40-5053

2020 Employment100,400
Projected Employment in 203088,200
Projected 2020-2030 Percentage Shift 12% decrease
Projected 2020-2030 Numeric Shift12,200 decrease

The shift in buying from brick and mortar to online has been on the rise for several years now, and it accelerated in 2020. People are spending more time at home, and they are shopping more and buying more online. The surge in online orders is predicted to continue. Even though people are visiting the post office less frequently and sending fewer amounts of mail, the shipping and packaging services of the post office continue to grow. 

The United States Postal Service, which has been in financial trouble for a number of years, has introduced a plan to rectify that. They plan to consolidate low-traffic stations and branches of city post offices and cut hours and services at retail locations. They also plan on implementing a more rational pricing approach to help them get out of the red. The plan also entails replacing flat material sorting machines with packaging processing units and obtaining at least 50,000 new delivery vehicles that will be more environmentally friendly than their predecessors. They will improve their ability to track deliveries with the use of enhanced digital tools in an effort to increase efficiency.