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What Does a Mail Handler Do?

Mail handlers make sure packages arrive where they are supposed to.
Mail handlers may be tasked with sorting mail into individual post office boxes.
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  • Written By: Diane Goettel
  • Edited By: W. Everett
  • Last Modified Date: 25 June 2014
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A mail handler is a person who assists in the process of making sure that letters and packages arrive safely at their intended destination. There are a number of duties that he or she might perform. The most common duties involve sorting and organizing mail, as well as loading mail into transportation vehicles and moving it from place to place. Much of what a mail handler does happens behind the scenes. Most people who interact with professionals who work for mail services interact with a letter carrier, delivery person, or sales agent.

There is a network of mail handlers that take care of mail from the time that it is deposited in a mail box or dropped off at a post office to the time that it is handed over to a mail delivery person. Depending on the size of a post office, the handler may have to manage quite a few tasks or he might focus on a specific task. For those who work at very large, busy post offices, the work may become quite repetitive. The amount of work that is required of a mail handler may increase on a seasonal basis.

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It is common for a mail handler to have a set of responsibilities that does not require him to ever interact with customers, a feature that suits some people quite well. There are, however, some handlers who work at the front desk of a post office. These individuals do have to offer a level of customer service in addition to helping to sort mail as it comes in to the office. Customer service duties include providing customers with the information that they need and helping them to properly package their mail. In addition to selling postage, they are also responsible for selling products such as packaging materials.

One potential drawback to the job is that it can require hard physical labor. In addition to sorting an organizing mail, a mail handler might also have to lift and move heavy packages or heavy tubs of mail as part of his daily work. Most mail services have a cap on package weights and procedures for properly handling overweight and oversized packages in order to protect their mail handlers. Even with these rules and regulations in place, it is often important for a mail handler to be in good physical shape to be able to perform all of his duties.

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Discuss this Article

anon329241
Post 8

I mailed an envelope for my taxes today, put the stamp and everything, but I'm not sure if I sealed it though. What would happen to it? Does it get returned, or will the handler seal it for me or what?

VivAnne
Post 6

@hanley79 - There are actually multiple mail handlers benefit plans available for people in this career. My brother is a mail handler, and he's got vision coverage, dental coverage and also general health coverage. He's a member of the Mail Handlers Benefit Plan group, so he even gets extra discounts just for being a postal worker.

As far as jobs with benefits go, being a postal worker is a very nice one. Postal work has an unfair reputation of being low-paying and having little benefits, but it simply isn't true. If you like jobs that steadily have pretty much the same kind of work every day, then a mail handler job is a great choice for you.

malmal
Post 5

@Hawthorne - Wow, I didn't even know mail handlers got to use computers to help sort the mail faster. That explains a lot about how they do things so fast!

Since businesses and most places that send mass amounts of mail tend to print their envelopes, I'm sure hand written address information on mail is the minority. Things like greeting cards and Christmas cards are sure to be a problem, though -- I feel bad for any USPS mail handler around the holiday season.

Hawthorne
Post 4

I watched a documentary on mail handling once, and it explained why my Christmas cards take so long to arrive each year. Did you know that mail handlers have to individually read the address information on envelopes that is hand written, taking a lot longer than the typed envelopes?

Envelopes with the information stamped or printed in typed lettering onto them are scrolled through a digital reader that scans the information and basically reads it without a person having to look at it individually. Hand written stuff can sometimes be hard to make out even by a person, never mind a computer, though.

In short, for your letters to get somewhere the quickest, print the address information onto the envelope. You'll make the mail handlers jobs easier, too!

hanley79
Post 3

Is there such thing as a mail handlers benefit plan? It seems like one of those steady jobs that might actually have benefits such as medical and dental plans. Considering the fact that most towns have at least one United States post office, this seems like one of the easier jobs to break into with little training if you want a career that has a benefit plan.

For many people, there's no way to handle paying for things like dental work unless they have a job that will do it for them. My niece works at an office where they have a dental van that will come to you and do your dental work as part of the regular routine -- I want something like that!

starrynight
Post 2

@ceilingcat - I sit behind a desk all day too and I think having a more active job might be nice.

Honestly though, I've always been amazed at the inner working of the post office. When you consider how many pieces of mail (incoming and outgoing) they deal with on a daily basis, it's really staggering. But somehow it all gets where it needs to go!

ceilingcat
Post 1

Interesting. If I didn't already have a job, I might consider being a mail handler. It's my understanding that people who work for the US Post Office get paid quite reasonably too.

But for me, the main advantage would be not having to interact with customers. Providing customer service is my least favorite part of my job. A lot of people are generally very nice, but I get yelled at by an irate customer probably once or twice a day. It is rather unpleasant.

Also, I think one advantage to this job is that is keep you active. I keep reading these articles about how sitting all the time is really bad for you, and I believe it. I heartily believe that our sedentary life style has causes heart disease and obesity to go up in this country. I bet mail handlers are in much better health than a lot of people who work desk jobs!

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