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USPS Jobs: Difference between a Mail Processing Clerk and a Post Office Clerk

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Getting mail delivered to the doorstep of every recipient is a tough task. From the selling of stamps to the receiving of or picking up of letters and parcels to the sorting and delivery, the process of ensuring that mail gets to where it needs to be is not a simple matter. In fact, it takes more than letter carriers to do the job. To get such an extensive mail organization as the USPS to run like a well-oiled machine takes the concerted efforts of mail carriers, mail handlers, sales and distribution associates, maintenance personnel, automotive technicians, data conversion operators, and clerks, just to name a few.

As far as clerks go, the USPS hires two different types: 1) Mail processing clerk and the 2) Post office clerk. Their job descriptions vary so if you are considering applying for any of these positions, read on to discover their fundamental differences first.

A mail processing clerk’s main task is to process mail using automated mail processing equipment or manual methods of sortation and distribution. On a typical day, he or she loads mail, culls out those that cannot be processed, inputs the sort plan and then turns on the equipment so that it can start sorting. The clerk monitors mail flow so that feed becomes continuous, sweeps separated mail from bins stackers, and stops equipment when the operation is completed. After the mail has been sorted, the processing clerk puts them in appropriate trays or containers to be further processed or dispatched following supervisor’s orders.

A post office clerk, meanwhile, does not sort mail but mainly performs a variety of supervisory, window, box, general delivery, rural route, highway contract route, or city delivery services to support a small community when the Postmaster is on leave or not available. His or her job usually involves operating a small, single unit postal facility where he or she supervises a small group of clerks and/or carriers who do distribution, delivery, and window services. The post office clerk sees to it that all approved programs are implemented. He or she submits and monitors a small operating budget, trains new employees, and maintains files and records. Unlike a mail processing clerk, the post office clerk has regular contact with postal customers.

Another difference between a mail processing clerk and post office clerk is in the work hours. Mail processing clerks usually start work in the late afternoon or night hours while post office clerks follow regular work hours.


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