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Becoming a Postal Service Worker: USPS Employment Eligibility Requirements and Benefits

By — McGraw-Hill Professional
Updated on Jun 23, 2011

U.S. mail delivery to the western states initially was done by stagecoach—a slow and undependable means. Then, in the mid-1800s, a group of enterprising businessmen obtained a contract with the U.S. Postal Department to provide the “Pony Express,” a nonstop chain of riders, each covering up to 100 miles a day and changing horses every 10 to 15 miles at relay stations. The Pony Express decreased delivery time from Missouri to the West by more than half, but it operated only from 1860 to 1861, when the transcontinental telegraph line immediately rendered the service obsolete.

Today, the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) is one of the nation’s largest civilian employers, currently employing more than 700,000 people in career positions throughout the country. A career position with the Postal Service can be rewarding work: the compensation and benefits packages are among the best you’ll find anywhere, and you’ll enjoy the additional satisfaction of knowing that you are part of a long tradition of providing vital services to the country and its people.

Understandably, Postal Service employment is attractive to many, many people, and the market for Postal Service career jobs is very competitive. Application exams such as Test 473 are one means that the Postal Service uses to screen applicants and identify those who are best qualified for various positions. Test 473 is officially known as Test 473 for Major Entry-Level Jobs and is also referred to as the 473 Battery Exam. (It replaces the old 470 Battery Exam.)

USPS Employment Eligibility Requirements

To be eligible for USPS employment, you must be 18 years of age at the time your employment would commence (or 16 years of age if you have a high school diploma), and you must be either a U.S. citizen or a permanent resident alien. Here are some additional requirements for USPS employment:

  • You must demonstrate basic competence in the English language, as demonstrated through Test 473 or some other written examination and through job interviews.

  • You must submit to a medical assessment, which provides information about your physical and mental ability to perform various jobs.

  • You must submit to a urine drug screen to ensure that you are drug-free.

  • You must provide the name of your current employer (if any) and the names of all your previous employers dating back 10 years (but not further back than your sixteenth birthday).

Before deciding whether to employ you, the USPS will conduct a preliminary criminal-conviction check. Should the USPS decide to hire you, it will then conduct a more thorough criminal background check.

Additional eligibility requirements apply only to certain applicants or for certain jobs:

  • If you’ve served actively in the U.S. military, you’ll need to complete and submit DD Form 214, “Certificate of Release and Discharge from Active Duty.”
  • If you’re a male born in 1960 or later, you must be registered with the Selective Service System (for the U.S. military draft).
  • If you’re applying for a job that involves driving, your driving record must show that you are a safe driver.
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