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Summary Report for:
43-5053.00 - Postal Service Mail Sorters, Processors, and Processing Machine Operators

Prepare incoming and outgoing mail for distribution. Examine, sort, and route mail. Load, operate, and occasionally adjust and repair mail processing, sorting, and canceling machinery. Keep records of shipments, pouches, and sacks; and other duties related to mail handling within the postal service.

Sample of reported job titles: Automation Clerk, Computer Forwarding System Markup Clerk (CFS Markup Clerk), Distribution Clerk, Flat Sorting Machine Clerk (FSM Clerk), Mail Handler, Mail Handler Equipment Operator, Mail Processing Clerk, Mail Processor, Parcel Post Distribution Machine Operator (PDPMO), Small Package and Bundle Sorter Clerk (SPBS Clerk)

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Tasks  |  Tools & Technology  |  Knowledge  |  Skills  |  Abilities  |  Work Activities  |  Detailed Work Activities  |  Work Context  |  Job Zone  |  Education  |  Credentials  |  Interests  |  Work Styles  |  Work Values  |  Related Occupations  |  Wages & Employment  |  Job Openings  |  Additional Information

Tasks

  • Clear jams in sorting equipment.
  • Operate various types of equipment, such as computer scanning equipment, addressographs, mimeographs, optical character readers, and bar-code sorters.
  • Sort odd-sized mail by hand, sort mail that other workers have been unable to sort, and segregate items requiring special handling.
  • Direct items according to established routing schemes, using computer-controlled keyboards or voice-recognition equipment.
  • Check items to ensure that addresses are legible and correct, that sufficient postage has been paid or the appropriate documentation is attached, and that items are in a suitable condition for processing.
  • Bundle, label, and route sorted mail to designated areas, depending on destinations and according to established procedures and deadlines.
  • Move containers of mail, using equipment such as forklifts and automated "trains".
  • Open and label mail containers.
  • Load and unload mail trucks, sometimes lifting containers of mail onto equipment that transports items to sorting stations.
  • Distribute incoming mail into the correct boxes or pigeonholes.
  • Rewrap soiled or broken parcels.
  • Train new workers.
  • Dump sacks of mail onto conveyors for culling and sorting.
  • Search directories to find correct addresses for redirected mail.
  • Weigh articles to determine required postage.
  • Cancel letter or parcel post stamps by hand.
  • Accept and check containers of mail from large volume mailers, couriers, and contractors.

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Tools & Technology

Tools used in this occupation:

  • Automatic postal or mailing machine — Mail processing machines
  • Bar code reader equipment — Barcode scanners
  • Belt conveyors — Conveyor belts
  • Carts — Hand-pushed carts
  • Delivery trucks — Mail trucks
  • Depalletizers — Automatic pallet unloaders
  • Dollies
  • Forklifts — Warehouse forklifts
  • Franking or postage machines — Postage marking machines
  • Interactive voice recognition equipment — Voice recognition equipment
  • Label making machines — Addressographs
  • Laser fax machine — Laser facsimile machines
  • Material handling racks — General purpose mail containers
  • Optical character recognition systems — Optical character readers
  • Parcel wrapping machines — Packaging machines
  • Personal computers
  • Photocopiers — Copy machines
  • Point of sale POS terminal — Point of sale workstations
  • Postal scales — Mail scales
  • Scanners — Computer data input scanners
  • Sorters — Barcode sorters; Mail sorting machines; Postal automated redirection systems; Small parcel bundle sorter machines (see all 8 examples)
  • Stamp canceling machines — Mail canceling machines
  • Tugger — Electric material moving tractors
  • Wrapping machinery — Delivery point packagers

Technology used in this occupation:

  • Bar coding software — Barcode reader software
  • Data base user interface and query software — Address Management System AMS; Directory software
  • Enterprise resource planning ERP software Hot technology — Delivery Operations Information System DOIS
  • Human resources software — Time and Attendance Collection System TACS
  • Inventory management software — Automated Package Processing System APPS
  • Map creation software — Delivery Routing System DRS
  • Optical character reader OCR or scanning software — Multi-line optical character reader OCR software
  • Point of sale POS software — NCR Advanced Store
  • Time accounting software — Electronic Time Clock ETC

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Knowledge

  • English Language — Knowledge of the structure and content of the English language including the meaning and spelling of words, rules of composition, and grammar.

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Skills

  • Monitoring — Monitoring/Assessing performance of yourself, other individuals, or organizations to make improvements or take corrective action.
  • Coordination — Adjusting actions in relation to others' actions.
  • Critical Thinking — Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions or approaches to problems.
  • Reading Comprehension — Understanding written sentences and paragraphs in work related documents.
  • Speaking — Talking to others to convey information effectively.

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Abilities

  • Near Vision — The ability to see details at close range (within a few feet of the observer).
  • Manual Dexterity — The ability to quickly move your hand, your hand together with your arm, or your two hands to grasp, manipulate, or assemble objects.
  • Category Flexibility — The ability to generate or use different sets of rules for combining or grouping things in different ways.
  • Information Ordering — The ability to arrange things or actions in a certain order or pattern according to a specific rule or set of rules (e.g., patterns of numbers, letters, words, pictures, mathematical operations).
  • Multilimb Coordination — The ability to coordinate two or more limbs (for example, two arms, two legs, or one leg and one arm) while sitting, standing, or lying down. It does not involve performing the activities while the whole body is in motion.
  • Perceptual Speed — The ability to quickly and accurately compare similarities and differences among sets of letters, numbers, objects, pictures, or patterns. The things to be compared may be presented at the same time or one after the other. This ability also includes comparing a presented object with a remembered object.
  • Static Strength — The ability to exert maximum muscle force to lift, push, pull, or carry objects.
  • Written Comprehension — The ability to read and understand information and ideas presented in writing.
  • Deductive Reasoning — The ability to apply general rules to specific problems to produce answers that make sense.
  • Finger Dexterity — The ability to make precisely coordinated movements of the fingers of one or both hands to grasp, manipulate, or assemble very small objects.
  • Oral Comprehension — The ability to listen to and understand information and ideas presented through spoken words and sentences.
  • Oral Expression — The ability to communicate information and ideas in speaking so others will understand.
  • Problem Sensitivity — The ability to tell when something is wrong or is likely to go wrong. It does not involve solving the problem, only recognizing there is a problem.
  • Speech Clarity — The ability to speak clearly so others can understand you.
  • Speech Recognition — The ability to identify and understand the speech of another person.
  • Trunk Strength — The ability to use your abdominal and lower back muscles to support part of the body repeatedly or continuously over time without 'giving out' or fatiguing.

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Work Activities

  • Handling and Moving Objects — Using hands and arms in handling, installing, positioning, and moving materials, and manipulating things.
  • Performing General Physical Activities — Performing physical activities that require considerable use of your arms and legs and moving your whole body, such as climbing, lifting, balancing, walking, stooping, and handling of materials.
  • Communicating with Supervisors, Peers, or Subordinates — Providing information to supervisors, co-workers, and subordinates by telephone, in written form, e-mail, or in person.
  • Getting Information — Observing, receiving, and otherwise obtaining information from all relevant sources.
  • Establishing and Maintaining Interpersonal Relationships — Developing constructive and cooperative working relationships with others, and maintaining them over time.
  • Identifying Objects, Actions, and Events — Identifying information by categorizing, estimating, recognizing differences or similarities, and detecting changes in circumstances or events.
  • Controlling Machines and Processes — Using either control mechanisms or direct physical activity to operate machines or processes (not including computers or vehicles).
  • Processing Information — Compiling, coding, categorizing, calculating, tabulating, auditing, or verifying information or data.
  • Interacting With Computers — Using computers and computer systems (including hardware and software) to program, write software, set up functions, enter data, or process information.
  • Monitor Processes, Materials, or Surroundings — Monitoring and reviewing information from materials, events, or the environment, to detect or assess problems.

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Detailed Work Activities

  • Route mail to correct destinations.
  • Maintain office equipment in proper operating condition.
  • Verify shipping documentation.
  • Package objects for shipping.
  • Operate computers or computerized equipment.
  • Attach identification information to products, items or containers.
  • Operate vehicles or material-moving equipment.
  • Unload materials or equipment.
  • Load materials or equipment.
  • Sort mail.
  • Distribute incoming mail.
  • Train personnel.
  • Obtain personal or financial information about customers or applicants.
  • Weigh parcels to determine shipping costs.
  • Prepare outgoing mail.
  • Receive shipments.

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Work Context

  • Indoors, Environmentally Controlled — 100% responded “Every day.”
  • Time Pressure — 88% responded “Every day.”
  • Spend Time Making Repetitive Motions — 66% responded “Continually or almost continually.”
  • Spend Time Using Your Hands to Handle, Control, or Feel Objects, Tools, or Controls — 80% responded “Continually or almost continually.”
  • Sounds, Noise Levels Are Distracting or Uncomfortable — 84% responded “Every day.”
  • Spend Time Standing — 49% responded “Continually or almost continually.”
  • Face-to-Face Discussions — 74% responded “Every day.”
  • Exposed to Contaminants — 65% responded “Every day.”
  • Importance of Being Exact or Accurate — 43% responded “Extremely important.”
  • Work With Work Group or Team — 48% responded “Extremely important.”
  • Pace Determined by Speed of Equipment — 56% responded “Extremely important.”
  • Contact With Others — 42% responded “Constant contact with others.”
  • Spend Time Walking and Running — 35% responded “Continually or almost continually.”
  • Degree of Automation — 51% responded “Highly automated.”
  • Importance of Repeating Same Tasks — 42% responded “Extremely important.”
  • Spend Time Bending or Twisting the Body — 44% responded “Continually or almost continually.”
  • Duration of Typical Work Week — 59% responded “40 hours.”
  • Wear Common Protective or Safety Equipment such as Safety Shoes, Glasses, Gloves, Hearing Protection, Hard Hats, or Life Jackets — 58% responded “Every day.”
  • Physical Proximity — 29% responded “Moderately close (at arm's length).”
  • Deal With Unpleasant or Angry People — 35% responded “Every day.”
  • Frequency of Decision Making — 46% responded “Every day.”
  • Freedom to Make Decisions — 33% responded “Very little freedom.”
  • Responsible for Others' Health and Safety — 43% responded “Limited responsibility.”
  • Structured versus Unstructured Work — 33% responded “Some freedom.”
  • Impact of Decisions on Co-workers or Company Results — 26% responded “Important results.”
  • Coordinate or Lead Others — 26% responded “Important.”

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Job Zone

Title Job Zone Two: Some Preparation Needed
Education These occupations usually require a high school diploma.
Related Experience Some previous work-related skill, knowledge, or experience is usually needed. For example, a teller would benefit from experience working directly with the public.
Job Training Employees in these occupations need anywhere from a few months to one year of working with experienced employees. A recognized apprenticeship program may be associated with these occupations.
Job Zone Examples These occupations often involve using your knowledge and skills to help others. Examples include orderlies, forest firefighters, customer service representatives, security guards, upholsterers, and tellers.
SVP Range (4.0 to < 6.0)

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Education


Percentage of Respondents
Education Level Required
81   High school diploma or equivalent Help
12   Less than high school diploma
6   Some college, no degree

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Credentials

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Interests

Interest code: CR

  • Conventional — Conventional occupations frequently involve following set procedures and routines. These occupations can include working with data and details more than with ideas. Usually there is a clear line of authority to follow.
  • Realistic — Realistic occupations frequently involve work activities that include practical, hands-on problems and solutions. They often deal with plants, animals, and real-world materials like wood, tools, and machinery. Many of the occupations require working outside, and do not involve a lot of paperwork or working closely with others.

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Work Styles

  • Integrity — Job requires being honest and ethical.
  • Attention to Detail — Job requires being careful about detail and thorough in completing work tasks.
  • Dependability — Job requires being reliable, responsible, and dependable, and fulfilling obligations.
  • Cooperation — Job requires being pleasant with others on the job and displaying a good-natured, cooperative attitude.
  • Self Control — Job requires maintaining composure, keeping emotions in check, controlling anger, and avoiding aggressive behavior, even in very difficult situations.
  • Stress Tolerance — Job requires accepting criticism and dealing calmly and effectively with high stress situations.
  • Independence — Job requires developing one's own ways of doing things, guiding oneself with little or no supervision, and depending on oneself to get things done.
  • Adaptability/Flexibility — Job requires being open to change (positive or negative) and to considerable variety in the workplace.
  • Achievement/Effort — Job requires establishing and maintaining personally challenging achievement goals and exerting effort toward mastering tasks.
  • Initiative — Job requires a willingness to take on responsibilities and challenges.
  • Concern for Others — Job requires being sensitive to others' needs and feelings and being understanding and helpful on the job.
  • Persistence — Job requires persistence in the face of obstacles.
  • Social Orientation — Job requires preferring to work with others rather than alone, and being personally connected with others on the job.
  • Leadership — Job requires a willingness to lead, take charge, and offer opinions and direction.

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Work Values

  • Support — Occupations that satisfy this work value offer supportive management that stands behind employees. Corresponding needs are Company Policies, Supervision: Human Relations and Supervision: Technical.
  • Relationships — Occupations that satisfy this work value allow employees to provide service to others and work with co-workers in a friendly non-competitive environment. Corresponding needs are Co-workers, Moral Values and Social Service.
  • Working Conditions — Occupations that satisfy this work value offer job security and good working conditions. Corresponding needs are Activity, Compensation, Independence, Security, Variety and Working Conditions.

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Related Occupations

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Wages & Employment Trends

Median wages (2015) $27.28 hourly, $56,740 annual
State wages Local Salary Info
 
Employment (2014) 118,000 employees
Projected growth (2014-2024) Decline (-2% or lower) Decline (-2% or lower)
Projected job openings (2014-2024) 13,600
State trends Employment Trends
 
Top industries (2014)

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics 2015 wage data external site and 2014-2024 employment projections external site. "Projected growth" represents the estimated change in total employment over the projections period (2014-2024). "Projected job openings" represent openings due to growth and replacement.

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Job Openings on the Web

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Sources of Additional Information

Disclaimer: Sources are listed to provide additional information on related jobs, specialties, and/or industries. Links to non-DOL Internet sites are provided for your convenience and do not constitute an endorsement.

  • Postal service workers external site. Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor. Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2016-17 Edition.

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