Becoming a Postal Worker

A postal worker is responsible for organizing and distributing letters and small packages, operating from a local sorting center. They may also be in charge of collecting mail from postboxes, post offices, and workplaces in their assigned area.

The process of manually sorting incoming and outgoing mail takes place indoors on a sorting frame. In larger sorting centers, this may involve the use of automated mail-handling machines, such as integrated mail processors (IMPs).

Once the mail is sorted, it is delivered to homes and businesses. Postal delivery workers are assigned a route or "walk" that covers several hundred addresses. For certain items, like registered mail and recorded deliveries, a signature must be obtained.

Deliveries are made on foot, by bicycle or electric trikes, or in vehicles such as cars or vans.

Some postal delivery workers are based in central sorting centers, where they handle incoming and outgoing mail from across the country. The mail is organized into mailbags and then loaded onto vans for transportation to district offices, road freight depots, rail stations, or airports, depending on the destination.

What is the working environment like for a postal worker?

Full-time postal delivery workers have a 41.5-hour workweek, which operates on a shift system. The early shift typically begins at 5am or 6am and involves preparing and delivering the mail. The later shift, starting between 1pm and 2pm, involves collecting and sorting mail.

Saturday mornings are usually required, and occasional Sunday shifts may be necessary. There are opportunities for night-shift, part-time, and seasonal work.

The delivery work takes place outdoors, regardless of the weather conditions. There may be a requirement to lift and carry bags weighing up to 16kg.

A uniform, including appropriate footwear, is provided, and larger offices offer discounted meals.

What qualities are needed to become a postal worker?

To succeed as a postal worker, it is important to possess the following qualities:

  • Reliability, honesty, and trustworthiness
  • The ability to perform repetitive tasks quickly and efficiently
  • The capability to adhere to a delivery schedule
  • Proficiency in clerical tasks like redirecting mail
  • Confidence and politeness when engaging with the public
  • The flexibility to work independently or as part of a team
  • Awareness of health and safety protocols

Job opportunities as a postal worker

Job opportunities for postal workers are available throughout the country, and recruitment is usually conducted through local sorting offices. Large mail centers, responsible for sorting and distributing mail, employ a considerable number of individuals.

With experience, there is potential for promotion to higher positions, such as supervisor or manager.

There may also be opportunities to transition into related roles within the industry, such as parcel deliveries, courier work, post office counter services, or customer care and administrative positions in district or main offices.

For more information on the average salary and job prospects for postal workers in the UK, please check our jobs and salaries section.

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