Publication 181 - Join Our Team! Rural Carrier Associate
October 2007
PSN 7610-08-000-3856


Are you looking for work that is both rewarding and challenging?

As a Postal Service™ Rural Carrier Associate (RCA), you will have a continuous, part-time job with a reliable employer. If you are retired, self-employed, an at-home parent, an educator, night student, or are employed on an evening shift schedule, this on-call position could be the ideal job for you.

RCAs are responsible for the safe and efficient delivery and collection of the U.S. Mail™, working part time when regular carriers have scheduled days off or take vacation days. RCAs also sell stamps, supplies, and money orders. RCAs perform a vital function in the Postal Service, serving thousands of families and businesses in rural and suburban areas while traveling millions of miles daily. The work can be demanding—but also rewarding.

Becoming an RCA is the first step on the path to becoming a full-time, regular rural carrier with full benefits, since RCAs are eligible to bid for these positions after 1 year of continuous service.

Rural Carrier Associate Facts

Variable Work Hours
As an RCA, you will replace a regular rural carrier on his or her scheduled day off (primarily Saturday), on vacation, or on other leave. Work hours will vary depending on the office and route to which you are assigned. You must be willing to work weekends and some holidays and be available for on-call employment. You may be assigned to other carriers' routes, increasing the number of hours you work.

Physically Strenuous Work
This job can be physically strenuous. You begin in the Post Office™, sorting mail in delivery sequence. Then, using carts and hampers, you take the sorted mail to your vehicle, load it, and deliver the mail along an established route. Performing these activities may require you to stand for long periods of time, stretch, reach, twist your body, push, pull, and lift and carry up to 70 pounds.

Vehicle Required
Generally, RCAs are required to use their own vehicles for mail delivery, and they receive an equipment allowance in addition to regular pay. The vehicle needs to be insured, dependable, and in good working condition. Vehicles with bucket seats or standard transmission are not recommended. Some offices may provide a Postal Service vehicle.

Excellent Driving Skills Required
RCAs are professional drivers. You must have a safe driving record, a valid state operator's license, and at least 2 years of unsupervised driving experience and you must pass an initial road test to be eligible to work as an RCA. Additional driver training is required and will be provided after you are hired.

Outdoor Work
RCAs deliver mail on back roads as well as on heavily traveled main roads and highways. Mail is delivered in all kinds of weather, so you may encounter snow, ice, rain, dust, and mud. Usually you will deliver mail from your vehicle, but sometimes you may be required to leave the vehicle to make deliveries.

Employment Requirements

We are a large, labor-intensive organization that recognizes employees as our most important asset. Our employees largely determine our success. In addition to passing entrance examinations, applicants for the RCA position must meet the following eligibility requirements:*

  • Age at appointment: 18 years of age or 16 years of age with a high school diploma.
  • Citizenship: U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident alien.
  • Language: Basic competency in English.
  • Selective Service: Male applicants born after December 31, 1959, must be registered with the Selective Service System.
  • Military service: Veterans must treat military service as prior employment and submit copy 4 of form DD 214, Certificate of Release or Discharge from Active Duty.
  • Drug screening: Applicants must undergo a urinalysis drug screening to ensure that they are drug-free.
  • Medical assessment: After receiving a job offer, applicants must consent to a medical assessment to determine their ability to perform in the position.
  • Driving record: A safe driving record is required.
  • Employment history: Applicant must provide the names of all employers (including current employers) for the 10-year period immediately preceding the date of application.
  • Criminal conviction history: A criminal conviction record check is conducted on all applicants for Postal Service employment.

*Interested applicants should gather required documentation in advance. This may include notice of registration with Selective Service, military discharge records, and employment eligibility documents.

Summary of Benefits

While serving as an RCA, you will receive the following benefits:

  • Annual leave and sick leave (when you serve on a vacant route for more than 90 calendar days or when the regular carrier is on extended leave).
  • Overtime pay (for all hours worked in excess of 40 per week).
  • Paid driver training (which may qualify you for insurance discounts).
  • Opportunity to bid on full-time rural carrier positions after completing 1 year of continuous service as an RCA.
  • Opportunity to purchase group health insurance (you may qualify after 1 year of continuous service).

How to Apply

Visit our Web site at to apply online for the RCA examination. Or, using a touch-tone telephone, dial 478-757-3199 (TTY 800-800-8776) and follow the prompts. You will need the examination announcement number for the geographic area in which you wish to work. You can get the number from our Web site or any Post Office. You need apply only once, and you will be scheduled for an examination in the area for which you applied.

Entrance Registers

Entrance registers list applicants for external hiring consideration. They provide a framework of scores from 70 to 100, adding additional points to passing scores for preference-eligible veterans. Names are arranged in descending score order, and the final score consists of the basic examination rating plus any claimed veterans' preference points. By law, preference-eligible disabled veterans are listed at the top of the register before other applicants. These individuals will be required to submit proof of their Veterans Administration compensation rating.

Requests for Reasonable Accommodation

The Postal Service makes reasonable accommodation for known disabilities of qualified job applicants when such assistance is requested. Such accommodations typically are provided on a case-by-case basis. Exam scheduling materials contain information on how to request an accommodation.

Equal Employment Opportunity

Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) is embodied in our nation's laws. It is the policy of the Postal Service not to discriminate in personnel decisions on the basis of (1) race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, or disability as provided by law, or (2) other nonmeritorious factors such as political affiliation, marital status, sexual orientation, or gender identity.

The Postal Service is firmly opposed to all forms of discrimination and harassment. We are committed to following EEO laws and their application to all employment matters including recruitment, hiring, training, assignments, promotions, transfers, benefits, and discipline.

A Professional, Friendly Environment

Postal Service employees can expect the following:

  • A safe and secure working environment.
  • Fairness in personnel-related matters.
  • Training.
  • Advancement opportunities.
  • A diverse workforce.

This material is intended as a general reference for recruitment purposes. It is not equivalent to an official handbook, manual, or policy statement and may contain information subject to interpretation and potential changes in the laws.

The Postal Service is committed to building and maintaining a diverse and motivated workforce — a goal reinforced in the Postal Service's Transformation Plan.