Working for the UK postal service, or the Royal Mail, is more varied than most people think. Postal service jobs involve much more than simply delivering letters and packages to homes and businesses. As well as making deliveries, employees could be at work sorting mail in the delivery office, working as a post office counter clerk, or involved in other administrative duties at the Royal Mail.
Becoming a postman (postwoman)
Most postman (postwoman) jobs mean that the incumbent has responsibility for a delivery round consisting of several hundred addresses. However, at busy times, such as Christmas, extra staff are drafted in to help delivery workers with high volumes of mail.
Nearly every role in the UK postal office means an early start, with most postal operatives beginning work around 5.30am. On the bright side, that means you finish early too (around 2.30pm), or begin accruing overtime pay. The day might start with some preliminary sorting, before postal workers begin their delivery rounds around 9.30am/10am.
To be a postal worker, you’ll need excellent social skills, patience and an eye for detail. You’ll need to be reasonably fit, as obviously, there’s a lot of walking involved, typically with a heavy load of mail. Of course, drivers are always in demand too. Minimal qualifications are required, but you will need to have passed English and Maths at GCSE level. Alternatively, there are government apprenticeships available for school leavers.
A good way of finding out if postal work is for you is to try to secure a temporary job, perhaps as one of the Christmas casuals the Royal Mail recruits every year. The Royal Mail begins its campaign drive in September each year for these roles. You can find out more about the application process here.
Life as a postal worker
One of the best things about being a postman (postwoman) is that you get to meet a lot of people. Because postal workers tend to stay on the same delivery round for many years, they can build up very close relationships with customers over time, becoming a key part of the local community, especially in rural locations. Of course, on the downside, dogs have always been a problem for postal workers. Anti-social behaviour can also be a problem in certain areas.
While there aren’t too many opportunities for progression, working for the UK postal service is a very secure job – some would say being a postman or woman is of the few remaining ‘jobs for life’. And those that demonstrate an aptitude for leadership can move into a supervisory role or management.
Starting pay for Royal Mail postal workers is £8.13 an hour at 17 years old and £10.46 an hour at age 18 and above, but there are opportunities for overtime and the pay increases quickly.
Of course, there are many opportunities for delivery workers outside the Royal Mail. Courier companies such as TNT, Hermes and GLS are always looking for staff. And there are many other organisations that have an ongoing need for delivery personnel, especially drivers. You can find there are other opportunities in your area with a quick job search on Zoek.
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