A postman in Brisbane, Australia


Postmen/Postwomen deliver mails and parcel posts to residences and businesses. They perform mail delivery and collect signatures from the recipients. They perform other duties in connection with mail services from post offices or related organisations.

Includes people using bicycles and motorcycles.

Postmen/Postwomen typically do the following:

  • sort the mail for your route, by hand or using machinery
  • load and unload delivery vans
  • deliver mail to customers along a designated route
  • use a hand-held computer device to get customer signatures
  • pick up mail from post boxes, post offices and businesses
  • deal with wrongly addressed or returned mail
  • move mail to and from processing centres, delivery offices, railway stations and airports

Other titles

The following job titles also refer to postman/postwoman:

in house courier
motorcycle messenger
bike courier
bike messenger
delivery woman
mail carrier
postal service worker
bicycle messenger
in house messenger
delivery man
postal carrier
driver messenger
urban bike messenger

Working conditions

Postmen/postwomen mostly work outdoors, delivering mail in all kinds of weather. Although they face many natural hazards, such as extreme temperatures and wet or icy roads and sidewalks, the work is not especially dangerous. However, repetitive stress injuries from lifting and bending may occur.

Work Schedules

Most postmen and postwomen are employed full time. However, overtime is sometimes required, particularly during the holiday season. Because mail is delivered 6 days a week, many postal service workers must work on Saturdays. Some also work on Sundays.

Minimum qualifications

Postmen/Postwomen typically need a high school diploma. They may also have an associate’s or bachelor’s degree in a related field, such as communications or business.

Postmen/Postwomen receive on-the-job training from their supervisors or other experienced postmen. This training may include how to operate the postal service’s vehicles, how to load and unload the vehicles, how to use the postal service’s equipment and how to sort and deliver mail.

ISCO skill level

ISCO skill level is defined as a function of the complexity and range of tasks and duties to be performed in an occupation. It is measured on a scale from 1 to 4, with 1 the lowest level and 4 the highest, by considering:

  • the nature of the work performed in an occupation in relation to the characteristic tasks and duties
  • the level of formal education required for competent performance of the tasks and duties involved and
  • the amount of informal on-the-job training and/or previous experience in a related occupation required for competent performance of these tasks and duties.

Postman/postwoman is a Skill level 2 occupation.

Postman/postwoman career path

Similar occupations

These occupations, although different, require a lot of knowledge and skills similar to postman/postwoman.

motorcycle delivery person
mail clerk
delivery driver
taxi driver
private chauffeur

Long term prospects

These occupations require some skills and knowledge of postman/postwoman. They also require other skills and knowledge, but at a higher ISCO skill level, meaning these occupations are accessible from a position of postman/postwoman with a significant experience and/or extensive training.

aeronautical information service officer
aeronautical information specialist
advertising sales agent
ICT help desk manager
non-vessel operating common carrier

Essential knowledge and skills

Essential knowledge

This knowledge should be acquired through learning to fulfill the role of postman/postwoman.

  • Geographic areas: Know the geographic area in detail; know where different organisations carry out operations.
  • Road traffic laws: Understand road traffic laws and the rules of the road.
  • Data protection: The principles, ethical issues, regulations and protocols of data protection.

Essential skills and competences

These skills are necessary for the role of postman/postwoman.

  • Act reliably: Proceed in a way that one can be relied on or depended on.
  • Ensure the integrity of mail: Ensure the integrity of letters and packages to avoid damage. Ensure that packages are delivered to clients in the same condition they were collected in.
  • Use geographic information systems: Work with computer data systems such as Geographic Information Systems (GIS).
  • Establish daily priorities: Establish daily priorities for staff personnel. Effectively deal with multi-task workload.
  • Maintain privacy of service users: Respect and maintain the dignity and privacy of the client, protecting his or her confidential information and clearly explaining policies about confidentiality to the client and other parties involved.
  • Handle mail: Handle mail considering data protection issues, health and safety requirements, and specifications of different kinds of mail.
  • Operate mailing information systems: Operate mailing information systems in order to record the processing and handling of mail. Record faults and identify packages that were not delivered. Ensure mail and small packages are traceable until they are delivered to the recipients.
  • Analyse ways to reduce travel time: Analyse prospective improvements in journey efficiency through reduction of travel time by modifying itineraries and outlining alternatives.
  • Follow given instructions: Follow instructions to achieve goals and meet deadlines.
  • Interpret traffic signals: Observe lights on the road, road conditions, nearby traffic, and prescribed speed limits to ensure safety. Interpret traffic signals and act accordingly.
  • Implement environmental protection measures: Enforce environmental criteria to prevent environmental damage. Strive for the efficient use of resources in order to prevent waste and reduce costs. Motivate colleagues to take relevant steps to operate in an environmentally friendly manner.
  • Organise mail deliveries: Organise mail and small package deliveries in an efficient, confidential, and safe manner.
  • Differentiate types of packages: Identify and differentiate different kinds of mail items and packages to be delivered. Consider their differences to foresee the necessary tools required for delivery.

Optional skills and competences

These skills and competences are sometimes, but not always, required for the role of postman/postwoman. However, mastering these skills and competences allows you to have more opportunities for career development.

  • Communicate with customers: Respond to and communicate with customers in the most efficient and appropriate manner to enable them to access the desired products or services, or any other help they may require.
  • Drive in urban areas: Drive vehicles in urban areas. Interpret and understand transit signs in a city, the regulation of traffic, and the related common automobility agreements in an urban area.
  • Contact customers: Contact customers by telephone in order to respond to inquiries or to notify them of claim investigation results or any planned adjustments.
  • Apply information security policies: Implement policies, methods and regulations for data and information security in order to respect confidentiality, integrity and availability principles.
  • Respond to customers’ inquiries: Answer customers’ questions about itineraries, rates and reservations in person, by mail, by e-mail and on the phone.
  • Drive two-wheeled vehicles: Drive two-wheeled vehicles such as bicycles and motorcycles for the performance of different tasks relating to the transportation of goods and passengers.
  • Secure sensitive customer’s information: Select and apply security measures and regulations related to sensitive customer information with the aim of protecting their privacy.

ISCO group and title

4412 – Mail carriers and sorting clerks

  1. Postman/postwoman – ESCO
  2. Postal Service Workers : Occupational Outlook Handbook – U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
  3. Postperson | Explore careers – National Careers Service
  4. Featured image: By Kgbo – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0
Last updated on December 1, 2022

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