I am not alone in the opinion that the Rural Carrier position is the best job in the postal service. If you surveyed Postmasters and Supervisors that have Rural Carriers in their office, most of them would agree that being a Rural Carrier is the best way to go. That is because if you consider stress, pay, hours, and autonomy in your work, there is no better position.
Stress is a major consideration when deciding to join the Post Office. Most positions have a good deal of stress involved with the job. The number one source of stress comes from your direct supervisor. Because you are “on the clock”, the supervisor tries to get as much work out of you as possible. When they are being pressed by their superiors to cut hours, they put it on you to do more work in less hours. In many jobs they are standing directly behind you telling you to work faster. It can be very stressful.
Rural Carriers, on the other hand, are salaried employees. They are paid a daily rate for their routes based on its size. It doesn’t matter if they take four or ten hours to run their route, they are paid the daily evaluation. There is no benefit involved with getting a Rural Carrier to work faster, so most supervisors just leave them alone to do their own work.
That takes us to the next benefit of being a Rural Carrier, the hours. Most Rural Carriers work under their daily evaluations. There is a built in benefit to being a salaried employee on a rural route. When you get finished with your route, you get to go home. But, you get paid for the entire daily evaluation of the route. I know carriers on eight hour routes that hardly ever work more than six hours a day!
The pay for Rural Carriers is very good. When a rural route is evaluated above eight hours a day, that overtime is automatically added into the daily pay. For example, an 8.5 hour five-day route is paid 43 hours a week. Three hours overtime are given every single week, whether or not you actually worked over 40 hours. That three hours a week overtime adds up when you get it every week of the year. A new regular Rural Carrier on a 40 hour route makes just over $40,000 a year. Add the three hours overtime and now they are at $45,000 a year. Once a carrier has reached all the step increases (about 12 years) they can expect to be in the $60,000 a year range. Not bad for less than eight hours a day!
Autonomy is another benefit to being a Rural Carrier. As mentioned before, they do not clock in and out. They have the freedom to work at whatever pace they feel like for the day (assuming they make it back for mail dispatch…usually around 5:30 P.M.). If the need arises for them to be off by a certain time (school bus, teachers conference, etc..) they can pick up the pace, work extra fast, and be off in time without using leave as other crafts would have to do (if they could get permission). This autonomy extends to how they do their work also. They have the choice of deciding how to case their mail, what to case or take to the street (DPS), and how to deliver it. As long as everything gets delivered they are left to decide for themselves how best to get it done.
Being a USPS employee for seventeen years and doing a variety of jobs (City Carrier, Rural Carrier, Casual Clerk, and fill-in Supervisor), I believe that Being a Rural Carrier is definitely the best position. For me, having the autonomy to be in control of my own day is the most important. I don’t feel the stress of being on the clock. Also, having my very own sub to fill in when I need off is nice. (Rural Carriers all have the right to their own sub!)
Check out my “Resources Page” to find out how to get a Rural Carrier job. You must be an RCA to become a Rural Carrier.
The Arbitration Panel came back with a new contract for the National Rural Letter Carriers’ Association for 2010-2015 (back-dated).
The Delivery Point Sequenced Mail standards have been changed from 30 pieces per minute to 43 pieces per minute for carriers delivering in an LLV.
This change has reduced the weekly pay for an average route by two hours. (When using an LLV). This has caused many Rural Carriers to lose their day off. The standards change along with managements ability to manipulate mail counts has had a real negative effect on Rural Carriers pay.
The Rural Carrier position remains a good one for all of the other reasons stated in the article, but wages are under attack.