A postman is also known as a postperson or a postal delivery worker. Being a postman is not confined to men – all genders can work in the profession. So don’t be put off if you’re not a man. Postmen are essential workers. We all rely on postmen. This means if you follow this career you must maintain a high level of customer service and strong communication skills.
What Does a Postman Do
A postman collects, sorts and delivers letters and packages to homes and businesses. Being a postman is a vital communications role for both businesses and individuals. You must maintain excellent communication throughout the delivery chain. This runs from collection to the delivery point. You will also need to take responsibility for the post in your care. The work of a postman is also changing. This is because of a number of things. The combination of the dramatic growth of internet shopping during the COVID pandemic is part of this change. As a postman you will now also have to use of portable ICT devices. Both these things have transformed your job as a postman. During a normal working day, a postman will be expected to:
- Sort mail in readiness for the postal route. This can be done by hand or by using machinery.
- Load and unload delivery vans effectively.
- You will be expected to walk for 4 to 6 hours every day to deliver mail.
- You will also need to use a hand-held computer device to get customer signatures for parcels and mail that need to be signed for.
- Delivery postmen also collect mail from post boxes, post offices and businesses and transfer it to sorting offices.
- You also need to be ready to deal with wrongly addressed or returned mail.
Who Employs Postmen
Postmen are employed by private sector companies to deliver mail. The vast bulk of mail in the UK is delivered through the Royal Mail. It is the Royal Mail which has the licence for all postage in the UK involving a stamp. The Royal Mail was once government-owned but is now also a private-sector company. Consequently, all postmen are therefore private-sector workers.
Job Salary for a Postman
The official UK Government statistics on the job salary for a postman places the starting wage at £17,000. This salary then rises to £25,000 for experienced postmen. Some of this difference comes from postmen often beginning on a 30-hour week contract. Another source estimates the average postman’s salary in the UK to be £22,876.67. This is based on a recorded minimum of £19,573 and a maximum salary of £32,646. Some other figures are useful to allow you to compare salaries. In the UK, the national average wage is estimated to be around £30,000 according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS). The current National Living Wage (which must be paid to people aged 23 and over) means the minimum untaxed income for a 40-hour week is over £21,000 per year. As with other jobs, there are significant regional differences in the salary of a postman in different parts of the UK. Postmen in London and the South East of England are, like other professions, paid more than other parts of the UK.
How Often is a Postman Normally Paid
You can normally expect to be paid a salary every month.
Who Negotiates a Job Salary for a Postman
Salaries for postmen are agreed between the postal union and the Royal Mail. Salary levels apply to all employees. This is regardless of whether or not they are a member of the postal union.
What Sort of Contracts Do Postmen Have
As a postman you will tend to have a contract of a minimum of 30 hours per week when you begin working for the Royal Mail. Further, the number of hours worked will tend to rise as you gain experience.
Additional Earning Potential
At Christmas time a good percentage of your income as a postman will also come from tips from customers. Remember too that tips are not classed as wages or salary and are therefore not covered by tax
How to Become a Postman
The three main routes to becoming a postman are:
- You can take an apprenticeship, which will lead to a qualification.
- Alternatively, you can work towards the role. The Royal Mail often recruits temporary staff, especially during busy periods such as Christmas. Often these staff are hired for to work in the sorting office. Doing this is a useful experience to see how postal services work from behind the scenes. You can also do this to get some experience. It also gives you an advantage since you will get to know people. You might be able to apply for permanent jobs as they come up.
- Some postmen get job by applying directly to the Royal Mail for delivery work. If you’re taking this route into postal work, you don’t need any specific qualifications. However, most applications like this need to apply online.
If you want to be a postman, you normally need to be at least 18 years of age. To gain employment as a postman, you will also need to do three things. The first is to complete an aptitude test. This is a test which checks your ability to read addresses properly. On top of this, the employer will conduct a fitness assessment to check you are fit and able to do the job. Finally, you will need to pass a competency-based interview.
Qualifications/Courses – Postman
If you want to qualify to work as a postman with driving and collections duties, the best apprenticeship is an express delivery operative intermediate apprenticeship. The express delivery operative intermediate apprenticeship is designed as a minimum 12-month programme. It has been developed and is for apprentices who wish to gain the skills for postal work. It includes modules on timed deliveries and collections to homes and businesses. The apprenticeship is supported by the use of world-class equipment and software to provide timed deliveries and collections to homes and businesses. Its components may cover roles such as postal workers, couriers and express delivery drivers. Some GCSEs, usually including English and maths, or equivalent, are usually needed for an intermediate apprenticeship. Some trainers insist all apprentices must have:
- Minimum of Level 1 English and attempt a Level 2 English.
- Minimum of Level 1 Maths and attempt a Level 2 Maths.
This express delivery operative intermediate apprenticeship is also supported by the Institute of Couriers (IOC). This is the relevant industry professional body. Consequently, all apprentices are automatically be eligible for Associate Membership of this body.
General Skills Required
- Good customer service skills and a commitment to customer care and parcel care.
- Excellent verbal communication skills are needed.
- The ability to be thorough is important. This means remaining focused and always paying attention to detail.
- You will need a strong sense of timekeeping. This is needed in order to complete your route.
- The ability to remain calm in stressful situations is helpful.
- You will need a decent knowledge of the English language.
- All postmen need to able to carry out basic tasks on a computer or hand-held device.
- Always adopt a proactive attitude in working with colleagues. Further, you need to work together to resolve problems which might affect deliveries and collections.
- You must always act with integrity and honesty in all financial dealings. Being a postman is a trusted role.
- Numeracy skills are essential to the job. This is because you need to calculate load weights and dimensions. There is also work to apply pricing schedules. You will also need to assess the dimensions of internet-generated returns.
Specific Skills Required
- You need good physical fitness. This is because postmen have to stand up for many hours and walk long distances.
- You also need to be responsible. This means you taking responsibility for your route and your postal deliveries.
- The ability to understand and keep to rules and regulations relating to the movement and handling of items is essential.
- You should familiarise yourself completely with the company’s operating policies and instructions. This includes rules relating to click-and-collect drop points. It also applies to collections and returns.
- You should be able to do simple calculations easily.
- A driving licence is useful. This is because you might need to take vans for at least part of your postal routes. Further, having access to your own vehicle may also be necessary for some delivery roles.
- You will always need to wear a uniform.
- Being a postman can be stressful. Consequently, the ability to deal with stress and deal correctly with failed deliveries and returns is needed.
Technology Skills Required
- You will use devices for real-time tracking of deliveries.
- You must demonstrate a clear understanding of the principles of safe manual handling. Further, you will also need to show the correct use of trollies. This also applies to lifting equipment.
- As a postman, you will need to understand how to use scheduling software or satellite navigation. Further, you should also understand how to search postcodes accurately.
- As a postman you must be able to operate some equipment. This equipment is provided to lift, move, collect and deliver goods.
- In some postal roles you might be required to carry out appropriate daily equipment or vehicle checks.
Challenges of Being a Postman
- Aggressive customers can be difficult. Dealing with them is one of your biggest challenges. Consequently, as a postman you will always need to be cheerful and outgoing.
- Dogs and other animals can bite or threaten you on your rounds.
- Postmen need to work in all weather. This can be challenging in extreme weather.
- You will need to maintain good working relationships with other team members.
- You may not be able to get public transport to suit your shift times. As a result, this can be a problem if you don’t have your own transport.
- Strong timekeeping skills are needed by you as a postman. This is to make sure you always fulfil your quota of postal items.
Type of Person Suited for this Work
- You need to someone with a good level of physical fitness.
- Someone who can behave responsibly at all times makes a good postman.
- Postmen must be good team players. This is because you will operate in teams who rely on one another.
- You need to be a person with the ability to work on your own. This is because route-based postmen are solo workers.
- It is an advantage for you to be someone who is open to corrections and criticism. This is because you need to be open to learning and improving.
- A good postman must always interact with customers in a personal and professional manner.
General Expected Working Hours
As a postman, you will normally work around 30 to 40 hours a week. This work will be done in shifts. Delivery work for postmen only takes place between Monday and Saturday. The three normal shift patterns are:
- An early shift. This one has an 5 am start.
- The late shift. This starts between 1 pm and 2 pm.
- The night shift. This one doesn’t involve delivering, but it does involve sorting and dispatching mail.
Route-based postmen are assigned to the first two shifts.
Location of Work
Most postmen work on established routes outdoors. In these circumstances, you will be usually encouraged to keep to the same routes to build up familiarity with the location and customers. Your working environment will be challenging. This is because it will involve work in all weathers and climates.
As an experienced postman, you can be promoted to higher grades like supervisors and managers. You could also move into specialised services. For example, you could work in parcel deliveries or courier jobs. Other options for the future are roles involving customer care and administration.