Most people only think about mail when it lands in their mailbox. That makes sense in a lot of ways. But before the mail arrives at your house, there’s a whole army of USPS employees working to process and sort it.
PSE Mail Processing Clerks are the people responsible for getting the mail to the right recipients. If you’re interested in learning more about this position (or applying), you’re not alone! I’ve researched the job, so here’s everything I discovered!
PSE Mail Processing Clerk USPS In 2024
Postal Support Employee (PSE) Mail Processing Clerk is a temporary, non-career position at USPS as of 2024. PSEs operate mail sorting machines and prepare mail for distribution and delivery. On average, they earn $19 per hour, and many work more than 40 hours per week. Also, they’re eligible for health benefits after one year of service.
If you want to learn more about the PSE Mail Processing Clerk role at USPS, including what benefits they receive, keep on reading!
What Does A PSE Mail Processing Clerk Do?
Postal Support Employee (PSE) Mail Processing Clerks operate and maintain various automated sorting and scanning machines to prepare mail for distribution and delivery.
Also, USPS may ask them to collate, bundle and transfer processed mail from one area to another.
That said, this requires the employees to lift, carry and reach for mail trays weighing up to 70 pounds.
Usually, these employees work inside postal stations or facilities and rarely see the public.
However, some PSE Mail Processing Clerks work at a service window selling postal products and services to customers.
How Much Do PSE Mail Processing Clerks Make?
On average, PSE Mail Processing Clerks earn $19 per hour. However, wages can range from $14 to $26 per hour.
Additionally, if PSEs work more than eight hours per day, they’re paid time and a half for every subsequent hour.
Do PSE Mail Processing Clerks At USPS Get Benefits?
As temporary employees, PSE Mail Processing Clerks have limited benefits, especially during their first year of service.
In fact, paid time off is the only benefit processing clerks are eligible for. With that, they earn paid time off at a rate of one hour for every 20 paid hours worked.
After one year of service, PSEs may be eligible for health insurance under the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program.
Also, they can receive dental and vision insurance through the Federal Employees Dental Vision Insurance Program.
Finally, PSEs can access long-term care insurance through the Federal Long-Term Care Insurance Program.
What Hours Do PSE Mail Processing Clerks At USPS Work?
Working hours and days off for PSE Mail Processing Clerks vary widely depending on where they work.
That said, USPS intends for this role to be flexible to allow USPS to meet mail processing demands in real-time.
As a result, PSEs can be scheduled virtually any time of day, including weekends and holidays.
However, PSEs tend to work at night or early to prepare the next day’s mail for delivery. On top of that, many PSEs report working at least eight hours per day, if not more.
What Are The Requirements To Be A PSE Mail Processing Clerk At USPS?
To be eligible to apply as a PSE Mail Processing Clerk, you must meet the following requirements:
- Be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident alien
- Pass a background check
- Be at least 18 years old or at least 16 years old with a high school diploma
- Be in good physical condition (i.e., be able to lift and carry mail trays weighing up to 70lbs, be able to stand for long periods)
- Pass a drug screening
- Must have resided in the United States for the last five years
In addition to these basic requirements, you’ll be asked to pass an online examination called the Postal Exam 476.
Also, you might see this exam referred to as Virtual Entry Assessment MP – (476), the Mail Processor VEA exam, or the Processing Clerk VEA exam.
Essentially, this online test asks you questions about your personality and employment history.
Moreover, you’ll be assessed on how you would handle different workplace scenarios and how well you can find errors in different number sets.
Additionally, the Postal Exam 476 is self-administered and lasts about 45 minutes. However, you must complete it within 72 hours of applying for a job.
Further, here’s a breakdown of the number of questions and the sections of the exam.
- Work Scenarios or Situational Judgement Test (nine questions)
- Tell Us Your Story or Biodata Questionnaire (22 questions)
- Describe Your Approach or Personality Test (79 questions)
- Checks For Errors or Verifying Information Test (12 questions)
Further, 70 is considered a passing score, but applicants will have a better chance of securing a job the higher their score.
Is PSE Mail Processing Clerk At USPS A Permanent Job?
Postal Support Employee (PSE) is a temporary position. That said, those holding this position are appointed for a maximum period of 360 days.
However, a subsequent 360-day appointment is possible following a five-day service break after the first work period.
Still, getting another appointment is not guaranteed and should not be expected because USPS uses PSEs on an as-needed basis.
So, subsequent appointments depend on the volume of work and changes in the workforce (e.g., people quitting, retiring, getting fired).
All of that said, a PSE job can turn into a career position depending on organizational needs.
For example, when a Mail Processing Clerk position opens up at a given station, the senior PSE Mail Processing Clerk is offered the job.
How Do I Apply To Become A PSE Mail Processing Clerk At USPS?
If you think you’re interested in becoming a PSE Mail Processing Clerk at USPS, the first thing you’ll want to do is prepare for the 476 Postal Exam ahead of time.
That said, USPS will ask that you take this virtual exam within three days of submitting your application, so being prepared before applying will help you score and avoid unnecessary stress.
Also, another reason to prepare in advance is that the wait times for retaking the exam are long. If you fail, you must wait one year to retake the exam.
On the other hand, if you pass but your score isn’t high enough to get a job, you must wait two years to retake the exam.
Further, you can find more information about the exams and take practice tests on sites like:
Once you feel comfortable with the exam format, it’s time to apply. However, applicants must apply online to be considered for this employment opportunity.
Therefore, here are the steps for finding and applying for a PSE Mail Processing Clerk position:
- Click the “PSE Mail Processing Clerk” link under the Sorting & Handling tab.
- Click “Apply Now.”
- Enter the keywords “PSE Mail Processing Clerk” and select your state.
- Select your desired posting and click “Apply.”
- To apply, create a candidate profile in the eCareers system.
- Take the 476 assessment online within 72 hours of applying (more instructions and a link to the assessment will be emailed to you).
- Wait for further instructions from USPS by email.
Is Being A PSE Mail Processing Clerk Hard?
According to past and present PSE Mail Processing Clerks, this position is challenging for several reasons.
Physically, the job is demanding. Not only is the work fast-paced, but it requires bending, reaching, and lifting mail crates weighing ten to 30 pounds.
Also, it’s a position that makes employees prone to injury with cuts, bruises, and smashed fingers among the most common complaints.
Unfortunately, employees report developing carpal tunnel or tennis elbow due to performing the same repetitive movements day after day.
Further, this position is challenging in terms of work/life balance.
For example, many PSEs report working up to ten hours per day, having little downtime during work, and not having consecutive days off.
Moreover, shifts may change on short notice, and PSEs are regularly expected to work weekends and holidays.
PSE Mail Processing Clerks are the unsung heroes of USPS.
Not only do they process and sort mail, but they do it at a fast pace in less than ideal conditions—all in the service of rapid mail delivery.
While the work conditions aren’t ideal, the pay, benefits, advancement opportunities, and job security are all attractive features of this job.