Clerks, more commonly referred to as mail handlers, unload the sacks of incoming mail; separate letters, parcel post, magazines, and newspapers; and transport these to the proper sorting and processing area. In addition, they may perform simple canceling operations and rewrap packages damaged in processing after letters have been put through stamp-canceling machines.
Clerks operating electronic letter-sorting machines push keys corresponding to the ZIP code of the local post office to which each letter will be delivered; the machine then drops the letters into the proper slots.
A growing proportion of clerks operate optical character readers (OCRs) and barcode sorters, machines that can "read" the address and sort a letter according to a code printed on the envelope. Others sort odd-sized letters, magazines, and newspapers by hand. Finally, the mail is sent to local post offices, sorted according to delivery route, and delivered.
Post Office Clerk Menu
Clerks and carriers are distinguished by the type of work they do. Clerks are usually classified by the mail processing function they perform, whereas carriers are classified by their type of route; city or rural. About 350 mail processing centers throughout the country service post offices in surrounding areas and are staffed primarily by postal clerks.
Postal clerks at local post offices sort local mail for delivery to individual customers and provide retail services such as selling stamps and money orders, weighing packages to determine postage, and checking that packages are in satisfactory condition for mailing. Clerks also register, certify, and insure mail and answer questions about postage rates, post office boxes, mailing restrictions, and other postal matters. Occasionally, they may help a customer file a claim for a damaged package.
Once the mail has been processed and sorted, it is ready to be delivered by mail carriers. Duties of city and rural carriers are very similar. Most travel established routes delivering and collecting mail. Mail carriers start work at the post office early in the morning, where they spend a few hours arranging their mail for delivery and taking care of other details. Carriers may cover the route on foot, by vehicle, or a combination of both. On foot, they carry a heavy load of mail in a satchel or push it in a cart. In some urban and most rural areas, they use a car or small truck. Although the Postal Service provides vehicles to city carriers, most rural carriers use their own automobiles. Deliveries are made house-to-house, to roadside mailboxes, and to large buildings. such as offices or apartments, which generally have all the mailboxes on the first floor.
Besides delivering and collecting mail, carriers collect money for postage-due and c.o.d. (cash on delivery) fees and obtain signed receipts for registered, certified, and insured mail. If a customer is not home, the carrier leaves a notice that tells where special mail is being held.
After completing their routes, carriers return to the post office with mail gathered from street collection boxes, homes, and businesses. They turn in the mail receipts and money collected during the day and may separate letters and parcels for further processing by clerks.