What Does a Postmaster Do?

Mary McMahon

A postmaster manages a regional post office or mail station. The head of an entire national mail system usually is known as a Postmaster General, to differentiate between this and other management positions in the mail service. This work can involve the completion of a variety of managerial tasks while also addressing legal compliance issues in the post office and dealing with government agencies that might interact with the postal service. To become a postmaster, it typically is necessary for a person to pass an examination and work through the ranks.

Establishing policies for post office boxes is one function of a postmaster's job.
Establishing policies for post office boxes is one function of a postmaster's job.

On a day-to-day basis, the postmaster can set employee schedules, moderate disputes, supervise training and organize the workplace. This work keeps the post office running smoothly behind the scenes and provides an opportunity to check for regulatory compliance. When laws are updated or changed, this member of the staff is responsible for bringing the post office into compliance with the changed legislation and making sure that all personnel are familiar with any relevant laws.

The postmaster manages post offices in their area.
The postmaster manages post offices in their area.

Customer service also is part of the job, although postmasters might not work directly at the counter. They can assist with complaints about lost or stolen mail, unsolicited advertising and other matters. Postmasters might set and supervise policies for post office boxes, general delivery mail and other customer service needs that might arise. When a customer has a complaint about a clerk or carrier, this person might be the staff member who hears the issue and works on a resolution.

Labor disputes can arise in this setting, and the postmaster might be at the front lines of the dispute while a resolution is in the works. This staff member also represents the post office in meetings with government officials. When law enforcement agencies need assistance from the post office, the post office manager is their liaison, and any questions about policy and procedure that might come up in a court case might require a postmaster to testify. The work also can include public outreach and education about services available through the post office and how to access them.

Work in this field requires experience, managerial skills and comfort with people. In some countries, a degree is necessary to work as a postmaster, and in others, satisfactory performance on an exam paired with a strong career record is sufficient. People who have an interest in this career might want to look at job listings to see what kinds of requirements they list, because this information can be useful for career planning.

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