USPS Hiring: What Makes It Hard and How to Get Through

Working at the US Postal Service (USPS) can be a financially viable option for many Americans, particularly in areas where college expenses are high, and USPS jobs offer relatively high pay with minimal education and training requirements.

Obtaining a job at USPS is not difficult as long as you have a clean driving record, no major criminal offenses, and pass the necessary tests. Advancement opportunities exist within the company and are primarily based on seniority. However, it’s important to note that being a mail carrier is physically demanding, often requiring 50-60 hours per week. Similar conditions may exist in similar jobs at other delivery companies like FedEx.

Getting hired at US Postal Service isn’t that hard. Postal jobs are jobs virtually anyone could do, and you could advance from a mail carrier, CCA or RCA, PSE, to Custodian or Maintenance. Advancements are mostly based on seniority, just like working for UPS.

Is It Hard to Become a USPS Worker?

USPS logo on surface next to a tree

Obtaining a job at the US Postal Service (USPS) is not a challenging task. However, maintaining the job depends on your performance as a mail carrier. Mistake-free work could lead to a successful career with many benefits, including a high salary and benefits after gaining seniority.

Pay is largely based on seniority, making it wise to start early, similar to getting a job at UPS.

It is important to note that being a mail carrier is a physically demanding job with long hours, sometimes seven days a week. However, the job becomes less demanding and offers benefits once you become a regular employee.

You don’t need a GED to work as a mail carrier. However, having one can be beneficial. The GED test is straightforward and can be taken while waiting to improve your driving record.

Lastly, exercising while working as a mail carrier is recommended to make it easier to deal with the long hours in the beginning.

USPS Job Requirements

USPS job requirements are:

  • 18 years of age (or 16 with a high school diploma): According to the USPS website, applicants must be at least 18 years of age to be considered for most positions, with some exceptions for certain positions such as a Postal Support Employee (PSE) or a City Carrier Assistant (CCA) where the minimum age requirement is 16 if you have completed high school.
  • US citizen, permanent resident,
  • recent employment history: Applicants must have a recent employment history to be considered for most positions.
  • Must pass a criminal background check, drug screening, and medical assessment
  • Safe driving records, if applicable to the position, such as for a Rural Carrier Associate (RCA) or a Motor Vehicle Operator (MVO).
  • Must be registered with Selective Service if applicable: According to the USPS website, males born after December 31, 1959, must be registered with the Selective Service System to be considered for most positions with the USPS.
USPS vans shipping trucks

Additionally, possessing strong interpersonal skills and a customer-focused attitude can give candidates an edge, as the USPS values employees who can enhance their service reputation.

How Long Does It Take To Get Hired at USPS?

It usually takes a few weeks to few months to get hired at USPS. However, the hiring time frame can fluctuate depending on the region, with densely populated areas often having a more extended waiting period due to the higher volume of applicants.

The hiring process at USPS was never known for swiftness, but they’ve improved upon this with fast-track hiring.

Because the hiring process at USPS can be slow, it can be an issue for both the company and the applicants. Since it can take a long time, many applicants turn down the positions because they find other jobs. 

For those in a rush to start, it’s recommended to periodically follow-up with the HR department or keep an eye on the online application status; sometimes, being proactive can expedite the process.

This is actually good for you if you keep your perseverance in check and continue applying. But keep in mind you can only accept one job at USPS. The system will not allow two jobs to be accepted, and you will have to drop one offer.

How Hard Is the USPS Exam?

The USPS Exam (also known as the Postal Battery Exam or Postal Exam 473) is a test used to assess candidates’ aptitude for various positions within the USPS.

It is difficult for most candidates, and the test length can vary. The memory part of the test is hard for most people. The first is the personality test, which consists of questions you must answer honestly. The 2nd part (473) consists of checking to see any errors in addresses and also includes a memory test. 

While the USPS exam might seem daunting initially, regularly attending the USPS-sponsored test preparation sessions can significantly boost your confidence and improve your chances of success.

What can you expect at the USPS exam?

The USPS Exam is the general aptitude test for performing tasks such as completing forms, memory, speed, accuracy, checking addresses, etc. The test is about 30 to 45 minutes.

In the memory test, you need to memorize several fictitious mailing routes for a few minutes. Then, they remove the mailing routes, and you get a bunch of addresses you need to match up with the right route. You can practice these tests to get higher scores on Union Test Prep and Test-Guide.

There are also computerized keyboard tests for certain positions, which include three types of tests where you must type a minimum number of words per minute. These tests are fairly easy, but if you can’t type, you can easily get to 30 or 45 with some practice. Go to MonkeyType and practice. You’ll be typing above 45wpm in no time.

Many candidates find that attending local USPS job fairs or connecting with current USPS employees helps demystify the application process and provide practical insights into the day-to-day demands of the role.

USPS Hiring Process

The application process steps are:

  1. Create an account at the USPS website
  2. Search for jobs at eCareers
  3. Enter keywords relating to your job
  4. Find a job and click “Apply.” 
  5. Complete an online application
  6. Successfully pass the examination with a score of 70 or above
  7. Complete the interview and pass background checks
  8. You’re hired!

The USPS hiring process typically includes creating an account on the USPS website, searching for jobs at their website, completing an online application, passing an examination with a score of 70 or above, and completing an interview and passing background checks. However, the process can change depending on the specific job and location.

two gray US mailboxes close up

You can check the USPS hiring process for yourself and see what is necessary to apply for a job at the United States Postal Service.

What to expect from the USPS interview?

USPS hiring process interview is an important part of the process. When doing a group interview, dress appropriately, and treat it seriously. Many people don’t treat it seriously, which is where they fail.

The USPS hiring process interview is typically the final step in the hiring process. A USPS representative interviews to assess the candidate’s qualifications, skills, and suitability for the position. The interview may also include reviewing the candidate’s work history, education, and relevant experience.

During the interview, the candidate will be asked various questions designed to evaluate their qualifications, skills, and suitability for the position. Some common questions include:

  • What motivated you to apply for this position?
  • What experience do you have that is relevant to this position?
  • What are your strengths and weaknesses?
  • How do you handle difficult situations?
  • What are your long-term career goals?
  • How do you handle stress?
  • How do you work as part of a team?
  • How do you handle change?

Similar to getting a job at Target – they’re straightforward questions, but you should still try to come prepared with a good understanding of the position and the qualifications required for the job. The candidate should also be prepared to answer questions about their work history, education, and relevant experience.

Being prepared with real-life examples to back up your answers during the interview showcases not just your expertise but also your commitment to the role.

Here’s a video to help you prepare for the USPS job interview:

Try to be honest and forthright in the interview. The USPS is looking for candidates who are a good fit for the position and have the skills and qualifications required to succeed in the job. Being honest and transparent during the interview can help build trust and establish a positive relationship with the interviewer.

How to Get a Permanent Job at USPS?

The main thing you should be looking for when getting hired at USPS is becoming regular someday, which usually takes about two years.

What does it mean to become regular? It means you’re officially a carrier mailman with full benefits and maxed-out Union protection. You get your own route (same route every day), which means guaranteed hours. You can earn vacation/sick days, and you’re full-time.

You need a certain number of years worked to gain all the benefits, depending on where you’re at.

Almost everything at USPS is based on seniority, like working at UPS. This means that the sooner you start working, the better you’ll be. But you should also be looking into other positions at USPS and how to switch if the physical aspect of the job becomes too much for you.

What Is the Best Job at USPS?

There are all kinds of post office jobs, and you should know about the best ones. Many people just want to get their foot in the door, but sometimes it is the wrong door. You need to know what you’re getting yourself into.

One of the best jobs at USPS in terms of pay and work/life balance is the maintenance job. It pays more than a custodian, has all the benefits, is easier on your body, has no customers or dogs, has no coworkers calling in sick, and causes less stress overall.

Then, there’s the custodian. You get the benefits right away, and aside from being a clerk, a custodian is probably the easiest job at the post office. It’s more predictable with less responsibility, consistent hours, a single job site, and less chance of messing up or losing your mind. Your body will thank you for being a custodian.

Many custodians switch to maintenance later on, which pays more. Remember that getting a custodian position can be difficult because there are always Vets applying and city carriers who move to custodian positions toward the end of their careers.

(PSE) Postal Support Employees are another good choice. The work isn’t bad, and the pay is good, especially for overtime. All the holidays are paid, whether you’re working or not. Once you become a career clerk, you can go into many different jobs.

Another good job at USPS is as an expeditor. Less pressure, a nicer environment.

RCA (Rural Carrier Associate) job can be difficult. Depending on the office, it could be the hardest job you ever worked while getting shorted pay. Then again, it can be extremely part-time. The CCA (City Carrier Assistant) will probably also be hardworking but paid for how much you work. For both of these, you’ll be working fully every minute.

The hardest job is probably the RCA, both in terms of pay and difficulty.

The most important thing to work towards is becoming a regular USPS employee. Before you are regular, you don’t get retirement benefits, and it’s like a part-time job, even though you often work 50+ hour weeks.

USPS Background Check

USPS does a background check by calling every former employer and reference you have listed to verify your information. A background check is usually a positive sign, and while it can take the longest, it usually ends positively.

How Long Does a USPS Background Check Take?

A background check usually takes seven days to several weeks. 

You’ll know if you passed the background check when someone from HR reaches out to you to tell you the next step, such as giving you a start date, scheduling you for orientation, or similar.

How far back does the USPS background check go?

Background checks at USPS usually go 5 to 10 years, depending on your requirement.

US postal office (USPS) delivery truck mail carrier

What Disqualifies You From Working for USPS?

According to the USPS list of reasons for disqualification, you will be disqualified from the hiring process if there is a negative decision on any eligibility factors. These factors include:

Dismissal from prior employment for a cause can also be a disqualifying factor. Deception, fraud, convictions for theft, and just the general stuff you can get dismissed from the hiring process at any job.

USPS Background Check Disqualifiers

USPS will check your employment history, criminal history, and driving history.

Usually, what gets you immediately disqualified are any misdemeanors received within the prior three years of your application.

For a driving position, you must have at least two years of driving experience and not have had your driver’s license suspended once in the past three years or twice in the last five years. Your driving permit shouldn’t have been revoked not once in the last five years.

If you have pending convictions, you can’t get a driving job until those charges are cleared. They will also check if you have any criminal convictions or pending charges. USPS hires felons, but the local criminal records check will be done, and DUIs (Driving Under the Influence) can be disqualifying.

The post-hiring process includes doing a NACI check to determine if you’re a good citizen and meet the criteria to enter employment. These investigations usually take about 2 to 3 months. If you were honest, there is nothing to worry about, and just keep on.


Why Does USPS Take So Long to Hire?

USPS has significantly improved the length of its hiring process, although applicants still have to pass several tests, and background checks can take some time.

To combat this, the USPS has implemented a fast-track hiring process, originally only used during peak season but has now been adopted as the standard hiring process. This process aims to expedite the process of extending job offers and getting applicants on the rolls as quickly as possible.

How Long Does It Take To Get a Career Position at USPS?

Becoming a regular carrier at USPS usually takes 2 to 4 years. The first few years can be challenging, but it gets easier once you have a schedule and your own route. You also have the option to work 8 hours, take on additional assignments, or be on the Overtime Desired List.

The job becomes more manageable after getting your own route, and it may be worth pushing through the initial years as a CCA or RCA. Everyone will eventually become a permanent worker, typically within two years, but it may take longer.

What do “application entry” and “pre-hiring list” mean?

If you’re on a step called “application entry,” they investigate your application and scores. If you get a “process step hiring list, ” you’ve already been approved, so congrats. On the other hand, a “pre-hiring list” means you are being reviewed for the hiring list. 

What score do you need to get hired at USPS?

According to USPS, the minimum passing score for most examinations is 70. However, the final hiring decision is based on various factors, including the examination score, experience, and qualifications.

How many people fail the postal exam?

The passing score is 70%, yet the USPS reports that 80% to 90% of candidates fail the postal exam. Most candidates fail this exam because they devote too much time to a single question. This test is divided into four components. Failure will arise from ineffective time management.

  • Alex Mitch

    Hi, I'm the founder of! Having been in finance and tech for 10+ years, I was surprised at how hard it can be to find answers to common questions in finance, tech and business in general. Because of this, I decided to create this website to help others!