Post office

When you excitedly wait for the post to arrive, do you ever stop and think about how it gets to you? With over 80 million items to deliver to 27 million addresses, the Royal Mail could always do with a helping hand.

So if you don't mind early starts, love the thought of plenty of exercise every day and fancy finishing by mid afternoon, you might want to check out a public sector career as a postman/woman.

So, what will I actually be doing?

Exactly what it says on the tin, you'll be collecting and delivering post. Not for people that want a relaxed job, you're bound to be kept busy, especially during the holidays of Christmas and Easter, as well as the made-up celebrations like Valentines Day.

As a postman/woman you will be expected to:

  • Sort the parcels and letters for your route
  • Deliver the mail to homes and business
  • Re-direct wrongly-addressed mail
  • Collect signatures for recorded and registered mail

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The finer details...

Delivery offices open at approximately 5.30am, so make sure you set your alarm clock because it’s an early start. You’ll then need to start sorting letters and parcels so you can prepare the delivery bags for your round.

Postmen/women don’t carry bags heavier than 16kg but you may have three or four bags weighing you down. Good news is, you aren't expected to carry it all in one hand, you can deliver the post on foot with the help of a trolley or on a bicycle if you need it. Bigger parcels are delivered separately in a small van.

When it comes to working hours, full-time postmen/women can expect to notch up to 40 hours per week working from 5.30am to 1pm.

Don't fancy dealing with barking dogs? Alternatively, you can work in a sorting office dealing with letters and parcels as well as bagging and labelling post. Sorting offices are open 24 hours per day so you could be working early, day or night shifts.

There are plenty of opportunities for flexible working arrangements and part-time roles, as well casual or seasonal positions.

Money, money, money

New employees aged 18 or over working full-time will earn around £256 a week. This will increase to £285 - £311 after a year in the job. This rate will be on a pro-rata basis for part-time hours. There may be allowances for working unsocial hours.

See what people are earning in this job

The good points...

“I actually liked the early starts because it means you also get to finish early,” says former postman Richard Cracknell. “You get lots of exercise and there’s a strong sense of community as everyone knows who you are.”

...and the bad

“Working in the wind, rain and snow and, of course, getting barked at by dogs!”

Is there study involved?

There are no set qualifications to work as a postman/woman. However you will need to have a full driving licence (with no more than six penalty points) and you’ll be expected to pass an aptitude test.

Royal Mail run an 18-month apprentice programme working towards a NVQ Level 2 in mail services. The programme is a combination of classroom-based, computer-based and self-directed training and project work. The training includes on-the-job training on how mail is sorted and delivered effectively plus key skills training in literacy, numeracy and IT.

Good news for school leavers, Royal Mail also run a fast-track, nine-month apprenticeship scheme for people aged 16-18.

And you don't have to just deliver post, other roles are available. Anyone with a degree can apply to the Royal Mail graduate scheme choosing from programmes in operations, finance, marketing, salescustomer service and human resources.

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OK, I'm interested... But is it really the job for me?

As you can imagine, the Royal Mail has got quite a task on its hands, so they employ 180,000 staff to help all year round. Could you be one of them? “We need ambitious individuals who’ll bring fresh ideas and a determination to make an impact on a business that touches the lives of millions every day,” say Royal Mail.

Postmen/women need to be:

  • Fit and able to deal with heavy loads
  • Friendly and approachable
  • Self-motivated but also good in a team
  • Reliable and trustworthy
  • Have competent literacy skills
  • Be able to cope with early starts and working in all weather conditions (you don't get a day off just because it's raining)

The Royal Mail say they are, “keen to recruit apprentices who want to progress their career and become managers of the future, and therefore will provide training and support to help people achieve this”. You can progress to become a supervisor or manager or train to work in any of the areas specified in the graduate scheme.


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