One of the advantages to being a rural mail carrier is they usually deliver most of their mail from trucks -- instead of walking around with heavy sacks, navigating slippery walkways and evading unchained dogs. Their delivery points are usually more spread out, and the address markings may be more difficult to read. But, as other carriers, they still start their days sorting mail and arranging their routes. If you can picture yourself delivering mail to street mailboxes in the country, rural postal carrier may be the job for you. Expect to earn salaries under $40,000 annually.
Salary and Qualifications
Rural postal carriers earned average annual salaries of $37,000 as of 2013, according to the job website Simply Hired. This is about $15,000 less than what the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported for all postal carriers in May 2011 -- $52,220 annually. To qualify for this job, you must be 18 and pass a Civil Service exam. The U.S. Postal Service usually prefers hiring carriers with high school diplomas or GEDs. Other requirements are the ability to lift up to 50 or more pounds -- physical stamina, a safe driving record and customer service skills.
Salary by Region
Average salaries for rural postal carriers varied somewhat within the four U.S. regions in 2013. In the Northeast region, they earned the lowest salaries of $33,000 in Maine and the highest of $45,000 in Massachusetts, according to Simply Hired. If you worked in the Midwest region, you would earn $29,000 to $40,000 per year -- with your lowest salary in South Dakota or highest in Minnesota. Rural postal carriers made $29,000 and $59,000, respectively, in Mississippi and the District of Columbia, which represented low and high salaries in the South region. And working in the West region, you would earn the lowest salary of $30,000 in Montana or the highest of $42,000 in Alaska and California.
Length of service is one way to make more as a rural postal carrier. You would likely earn a higher salary after 10 years of service than five because of annual incremental increases in pay. These increases, however, are usually based on federal government budgets, and the amount that's allocated each year for salary increases. Additionally, with extensive experience, you may qualify for higher-paying positions. Expect to earn more if you work in states such as California or Massachusetts because of higher living costs.
Jobs for postal service workers, including rural carriers, are projected to decrease 12 percent in the next decade. Rural postal carriers will cover wider territories because of automated sorting systems that expedite their early-morning sorting responsibilities. Consequently, you will find less job opportunities available because fewer rural carriers are needed to service routes. Be persistent in your search, however, as you may find openings as rural postal carriers retire or move on to other postal jobs.
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Postal Service Workers: Job Outlook
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Occupational Employment Statistics: Postal Service Mail Carriers
- National Association of Letter Carriers: What is a Letter Carrier?
- South Dakota Department of Labor and Regulation: CDS Rural Mail Carrier
- Simply Hired: Average Rural Mail Carrier Salaries
- Simply Hired: Average Rural Mail Carrier Salaries in ME and MA
- Simply Hired: Average Rural Mail Carrier Salaries in MT, AK and CA
- Simply Hired: Average Rural Mail Carrier Salaries in MS and DC
- Simply Hired: Average Rural Mail Carrier Salaries in SD and MN