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A Career with the U.S. Postal Service

The United States Postal Service may not seem like the best place to work at the moment. To date, the USPS has reduced its workforce by 60,000 career employees, closed some facilities, and even reduced hours in many post offices. Even Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe did not mince words when he expressed his dismay in a January 3, 2013 press release at the failure of the 112th Congress to pass postal legislation. One paragraph of his statement reads:

“As we look to the coming year, we are on an unsustainable financial path. We are currently losing $25 million per day, we have defaulted on $11.1 billion in Treasury payments and exhausted our borrowing authority. The Postal Service should not have to do business this way, which has undermined the confidence of our customer base and the $800 billion mailing industry we serve. We will be discussing with our Board of Governors a range of accelerated cost cutting and revenue generating measures designed to provide us some financial breathing room.”

Despite the troubles that the U.S. Postal Service is undergoing, there are still many individuals who wish to seek a career with the premier mail organization in the world. And they have very good reason to. Working for the USPS basically means holding on to a job for life. Union contracts prohibit layoffs after an employee has served for the USPS for a certain number of years continuously.

It also means getting competitive pay and benefits. Because it is an independent agency of the Federal government, postal workers enjoy a number of perks. They get automatic raises at least once a year, have regular cost-of-living adjustments, generous paid vacation and sick leaves, life insurance, and retirement plans. It is safe to say that a postal service job will not only sustain you in the present but will support you and your family in the future as well.

While these are the advantages of working with the USPS, a career in U.S. Mail also has its own downsides. Mail has to be delivered at whatever cost so all postal workers have to work towards this end. During peak season, for example, you can expect to work beyond your regular hours even if there are seasonal postal workers added to the workforce. The pressure to finish delivering the mail on your route for a particular day is intense and some postal workers complain how hard their supervisors push them to finish their deadlines.

Another disadvantage of a postal service career is that you are only trained the skills that you need to do your work successfully. If it’s sorting and distributing mail, you are taught how to do that and once you get the hang of it, you can even do it with your eyes closed (poetically speaking, of course). In short, you don’t learn anything new. This is not necessarily a problem if you don’t intend to leave your postal job but if you want to explore other fields, then your lack of marketable skills could put you at a disadvantage.