What is the top pay for a mailman?

The job of a mail carrier, often referred to as a mailman, is an important one in the United States. Mail carriers are responsible for picking up and delivering mail to homes and businesses in their designated routes. This first-mile and last-mile service is essential for both personal and commercial correspondence. As such, mail carriers provide a valuable public service. However, like any job, there are questions around how mail carriers are compensated. What is the top pay for a mailman? Let’s take a closer look.

Pay Scale for USPS Mail Carriers

Mail carriers in the United States are most commonly employees of the United States Postal Service (USPS). The USPS employs both city and rural mail carriers across the country. Pay for USPS mail carriers is determined by several factors including job title, years of service, type of route, and any applicable contracts or collective bargaining agreements. Here is an overview of the USPS mail carrier pay scale:

– Entry-level USPS city carriers start at around $18/hr or $40,000/yr. With step increases, they can earn up to $27/hr or $63,000/yr after 12 years of service.

– Entry-level USPS rural carriers start at around $19/hr or $45,000/yr. With step increases, they can earn up to $28/hr or $68,000/yr after 12 years.

– USPS contract carriers that deliver mail on certain city routes can earn between $25-28/hr.

Additional USPS Pay Details

– Full-time USPS mail carriers also receive health insurance, paid vacation time, and pension benefits.

– Overtime pay and pay differentials may increase hourly wages above the base steps.

– Cost of living adjustments may raise pay 1-2% periodically.

– Carriers who take on additional responsibilities can earn more. For example, a carrier who becomes a postal inspector can earn $60,000-$80,000/yr.

So within the standard USPS pay scale, the top base pay rate is around $28/hr or $68,000/yr for rural carriers at the highest step. But total compensation can be higher with overtime, differentials, COLA, and higher duties.

Pay Compared to Other Delivery Services

Most mail delivery in the U.S. is conducted by USPS mail carriers. However, there are some private delivery services that employ their own mail carriers as well. Here is a comparison of top pay at USPS versus UPS and FedEx:

– **USPS** – Top base pay around $28/hr or $68,000/yr
– **UPS** – Delivery drivers can top out at around $40/hr or $95,000/yr
– **FedEx** – Couriers can earn up to approximately $30/hr or $75,000/yr

So maximum pay for delivery drivers at private services like UPS and FedEx is considerably higher than USPS mail carrier rates. The reason is that private services are for-profit companies that must compete for talent in the labor market. The USPS as a public service has a standardized federal pay scale.

Key Takeaways

– Highest base USPS pay is approx. $68,000/yr
– UPS and FedEx drivers can earn $95,000/yr and $75,000/yr
– Private services offer higher pay than public USPS

Additional Compensation Factors

Some additional factors beyond base pay rates that can influence mail carrier compensation:


Overtime pay for hours worked beyond 40 hours per week can significantly increase earnings. USPS mail carriers often work overtime during peak periods.


Cost of living varies across the U.S. So pay rates for mail carriers may be higher in areas with higher living costs like San Francisco or New York.


Comprehensive benefits like health insurance and retirement pensions add thousands in value beyond just salary.


Some mail carriers may qualify for annual bonuses based on performance. UPS in particular offers bonuses up to $10,000 for drivers.


Some carriers work as independent contractors and set their own rates for services. They have potential for higher earnings than employees.

So while base USPS mail carrier pay tops out around $68,000/yr, total compensation from bonuses, overtime, geography, benefits, and self-employment can result in higher overall earnings.

Highest Potential Earnings

Given all the factors around compensation, what are the highest potential earnings for a mail carrier in the U.S? Here are some top paying scenarios:

– An independent contractor carrier in a high cost-of-living city like San Francisco may charge $70-80,000 or more annually. They cover their own expenses but set their own rates.

– A USPS mail carrier in New York City with 10+ years experience making $70,000 in base salary, $10,000 in overtime pay, and $20,000 in benefits gets total compensation around $100,000.

– A UPS driver with top union contracted pay of $95,000 a year plus maximum bonuses and profit sharing over $10,000 reaches total compensation in the $105,000 to $110,000 range.

– Top performing FedEx couriers can earn similar to UPS drivers, potentially over $100,000 annually with above scale salaries, incentives, overtime, and bonuses.

– Postal service and private inspector jobs requiring more qualifications can pay up to $80,000 or more with room for bonuses.

Key Takeaways on Maximum Earnings

– Independent contractors can earn $70,000 – $80,000+
– Experienced USPS carriers can make up to $100,000 total
– UPS/FedEx drivers can make $105,000+
– Inspector roles can reach $80,000+

So while starting mail carrier salaries are modest, carriers with some years experience in the right settings or roles can potentially earn six-figure total compensation over $100,000. But very few carriers likely exceed this level of peak pay.

Average and Median Incomes

While we’ve looked at top tier mail carrier pay, average earnings provide a more balanced perspective:

Average USPS Mail Carrier Salaries

– Entry-level mail carrier: $35,000
– 5+ years experience: $50,000
– 10+ years experience: $60,000

Average UPS Driver Salaries

– Entry-level UPS driver: $45,000
– 5+ years experience: $65,000
– 10+ years experience: $85,000

Average FedEx Courier Salaries

– Entry-level courier: $40,000
– 5+ years experience: $60,000
– 10+ years experience: $75,000

As shown, average earnings are well below the maximums. Experience still pays off with salary growth, but most carriers make less than top tier.

Median incomes fall slightly below averages. By definition, half earn less than the median while half earn more.

Key Takeaways on Averages

– Entry-level averages: $35k – $45k
– Experienced averages: $60k – $85k
– Median incomes are slightly lower than averages

So while some carriers certainly earn six-figures, average and median salaries fall in the $35,000 to $85,000 range for most.

Federal Government Mail Carrier Salaries

In addition to USPS carriers, some federal government departments and agencies employ their own mail carriers. Here are typical salaries for other federal mail carrier roles:

– Department of Veterans Affairs – $45,000 to $60,000
– Department of Homeland Security – $48,000 to $75,000
– Department of Defense – $35,000 to $55,000
– General Services Administration – $45,000 to $65,000
– Department of Health and Human Services – $40,000 to $65,000

Salaries align with typical USPS pay bands once experience and benefits are factored in. Some variation results from cost of living differences by location and specific job requirements.

Key Takeways on Federal Salaries

– Range from $35,000 to $75,000
– VA and Homeland Security on higher end
– Alignment with comparable USPS positions

So federal mail carrier pay is quite comparable to USPS counterparts when considering experience, benefits, and geographic differences.

Pay for State and Local Government Mail Clerks and Carriers

At the state and local levels, some mail clerk and carrier jobs also exist within government entities outside the federal system. Here are typical pay bands:

– State governments – $35,000 to $60,000
– Cities – $40,000 to $50,000
– Counties – $38,000 to $45,000
– Other local entities – $36,000 to $43,000

As shown, pay rates at state and local levels largely align with federal and USPS salary ranges based on experience, cost of living, and other factors.

Key Takeaways on State and Local Pay

– Broad alignment with federal and USPS pay bands
– State government salaries higher end at $60,000
– Local pay slightly lower, averaging $40,000s
– Experience and geography impact earnings

Mail Carrier Pay in Canada

Beyond the United States, Canada is the closest point of comparison for mail carrier salaries. Here is an overview of Canadian mail carrier pay:

– Canada Post entry-level mail carriers – $25,000 to $45,000 CAD
– Experienced carriers with 5+ years – $40,000 to $60,000 CAD
– Top step maximum pay – $55,000 CAD after 8 years

Canada Post pay rates are generally lower than USPS. But cost of living differences account for some of the discrepancy. When adjusting for exchange rates, salaries align more closely with averages on the lower end of USPS.

Key Takeaways on Canadian Mail Carrier Pay

– Entry-level: $25k to $45k CAD
– Experienced: $40k to $60k CAD
– Maximum: $55k CAD after 8 years
– Lower than USPS but cost of living plays role

So while nominal pay rates are lower, real purchasing power of Canadian mail carrier salaries is fairly comparable to USPS averages when accounting for differences in costs.

Projected Salary Trends

Looking forward, what are the salary projections for mail carriers over the next five to ten years?

Several factors come into play:

– Moderate declines in traditional mail volume will reduce workloads and need for new carriers. However, USPS and private carriers have invested significantly in package delivery services to offset losses in letter volume. E-commerce growth has fueled package delivery demand.

– Retirement rates will be higher among the current generation of experienced mail carriers. Newer workers will fill these roles starting at lower entry-level wages, pulling down averages.

– Postal unions will advocate for cost-of-living increases to keep pace with inflation during upcoming contract negotiations. This could result in slight 1-2% bumps in pay tables.

– Private competitors like UPS and FedEx will also aim to stay competitive in labor markets, supporting moderate salary growth for carriers.

– No major disruptions from automation or technology changes are foreseen that would displace carriers. Human carriers will still be needed.

Key Projection Takeaways

– Slowing declines in mail plus e-commerce will balance job trends
– Retirements will lower averages as new staff enter at starting wages
– Modest COLA and contract increases expected
– Stable demand for human carriers foreseen

Overall projections point to relative stability in carrier salaries, tracking inflationary trends in the 1-2% range annually. While starting salaries may dip, top tier pay bands are expected to remain stable, bounded by union contracts. Significant disruptions are not anticipated. The future outlook for mail carrier salaries remains cautiously optimistic.


In summary, top-tier mail carrier pay at USPS can reach approximately $68,000/year plus overtime for the highest paid rural carriers. Private services like UPS and FedEx exceed USPS at the top end, with drivers earning up to or over $100,000 annually in total compensation. However, median and average salaries for most carriers fall in the $35,000 to $85,000 range depending on experience, location, and employer. Federal, state, and local government mail clerk and carrier salaries align with USPS pay bands once adjustments are made for geography and benefits. Canada Post pays somewhat lower wages after currency conversion but cost of living plays a role. Looking forward, carrier salaries are expected to remain relatively stable with modest growth in line with inflationary trends. While aspiring carriers should not expect to immediately earn the highest salaries, experience and opportunities in certain settings can boost earnings well above starting levels. With a bit of luck and perseverance throughout a career, six-figure compensation is within reach for dedicated mail carriers who embrace opportunities.

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