What Is Rural Carrier Associate? (Responsibilities, Salary & More)

What Is Rural Carrier Associate?

If you’re interested in a career that involves delivering mail to people’s homes, the USPS rural carrier associate position might be perfect for you! In this article, we’ll discuss what a rural carrier associate is, what their responsibilities are, and what the salary and benefits are like. We’ll also cover the requirements to become a rural carrier associate and how to apply for the job. Let’s get started!

What Is The USPS Rural Carrier Associate?

The USPS rural carrier associate is a position within the United States Postal Service that is responsible for delivering mail to people who live in rural areas. Rural carrier associates use a variety of vehicles to make their deliveries, including cars, trucks, vans, or even on foot. They help out rural carriers on their days off by delivering mail. This is usually on Saturdays, but can also be on vacation days, holidays, or any other time the regular carrier is not working. Rural Carrier Associates get many benefits, like good pay, extra money for working overtime, free training, and paid time off when they are sick.

What Are the Responsibilities of a Rural Carrier Associate?

The responsibilities of a rural carrier associate include:

  • Delivering the mail along a route
  • Ensuring mail security
  • Putting mail into mailboxes or other places where people can get their mail by hand or using machines such as carts, forklifts, or pallet jacks.
  • Keeping track of all the items that are delivered and which ones returned undelivered.
  • Sorting mail and loading it into a vehicle
  • Interacting with customers
  • Collecting mail from post office boxes, sorting it by address, and then delivering it to the right person’s mailbox
  • Sorting and loading the vehicle in a timely manner
  • Selling stamps, supplies, and money orders
  • Writing up a trip report for each shift
  • Loading and unloading containers of mail
  • Scanning packages for size and shape

How Much Does a USPS Rural Carrier Associate Earn?

USPS rural carrier associates typically work full-time hours, although some may work part-time. The hours are variable and depend on the route that they are assigned to. Some USPS rural carrier associates work early morning hours, while others work later in the day. Overtime hours may be available.

On average, USPS rural carrier associates make $18-20 per hour, but long-term RCAs can earn up to $38 per hour. In addition to their salary, they may also receive benefits such as health insurance, dental insurance, and life insurance. They also get paid time off, sick days, and holidays. USPS rural carrier associates may also be eligible for bonuses and commissions.

What Are the Requirements to Become a USPS Rural Carrier Associate?

In order to become a rural carrier, you must meet the following qualifications:

  • Education:  You must have a high school diploma or GED certificate. You don’t need to go to college after high school, but it can help you get better positions.
  • Training & Experience: On-the-job training is provided. You may need to have a valid driver’s license and a clean driving record.
  • Certifications & Licenses: Passing a physical abilities assessment (PAA) is a must. The PAA measures your ability to do the essential functions of the job, such as lifting a mailbag, sorting mail, and driving a vehicle. One needs to pass the PAA before applying for the job.

What Skills Do You Need to Become a Rural Carrier?

There are a few key skills that you’ll need to succeed as a USPS rural carrier associate. These include:

  • Physical stamina: USPS rural carrier associates need to be able to lift up to 70 pounds, sort mail, and walk long distances. They also need to have the good hand-eye coordination to load mail into a vehicle.
  • Customer service: RCAs need to be able to deal with customers in a professional and courteous manner.
  • Organizational skills: Rural carrier associates need to be able to keep track of all the mail they deliver and which items are returned. They also need to be able to sort mail and load it into a vehicle in a timely manner.
  • Time management: RCAs need to be able to deliver the mail on time and make sure that all the mail is delivered.
  • Problem-solving: USPS rural carrier associates need to be able to solve problems that may come up on their route, such as a package that is too large to fit into a mailbox or when the customer’s address is not correct.
  • Attention to detail:  USPS rural carrier associates need to be able to pay attention to detail when sorting and delivering mail. They also need to be able to write up a trip report at the end of each shift.
  • Dependability: RCAs need to be able to show up on time for their shift, complete the delivery route and give customers the products they ordered.
  • Driving: USPS rural carrier associates need to have a valid driver’s license and a clean driving record. They also need to be able to operate a USPS vehicle.

Bonus tip: If you have experience working in customer service or the postal service, that can be helpful. However, it is not required.

How to Apply for the Job?

Now that you know what the job entails and what skills and qualifications you need, it’s time to apply for the position. Here’s how:

  1. Go to USPS.com and create an account.
  2. Once you have created an account, log in and click on the “Careers” tab.
  3. Under the “Search Jobs” section, type in “Rural Carrier Associate.”
  4. Click on the job listing and read through the job description.
  5. If you meet the qualifications and skills listed, click on the “Apply” button.
  6. Fill out the application and attach your resume.
  7. Once you have submitted your application, USPS will review it and contact you if you are selected for an interview.

What Are the Benefits of Becoming a USPS Rural Carrier Associate?

USPS rural carrier associates enjoy a number of benefits, including:

  • A competitive salary
  • Paid time off
  • Eligible for a full-time job
  • Health insurance
  • Dental insurance
  • Overtime pay
  • Life insurance
  • On-the-job training
  • A retirement plan
  • Work outside
  • Opportunities for advancement

What Tests Should You Pass to Become an RCA?

Before you can become a USPS rural carrier associate, you must pass the following tests:

  1. Drug test: All USPS employees must pass a drug test.
  2. Medical exam: USPS rural carrier associates must pass a medical exam to make sure they are physically able to do the job.
  3. Postal Exam 573:  This exam is used to fill entry-level positions in the USPS. The exam measures your skills in areas such as speed and accuracy, form completion, and memory recall.

Is Becoming a USPS Rural Carrier Associate Worth It?

The short answer is: it depends. USPS Rural Carrier Associates (RCA) are postal employees who deliver mail to customers in rural areas. The job comes with a few perks, like regular pay increases and paid time off, but it also has its challenges, like long hours and difficult working conditions.

So, if you’re thinking about becoming a USPS RCA, it’s important to weigh the pros and cons carefully to see if the job is right for you. Here’s a closer look at some of the key considerations:


  • Regular pay increases: USPS RCAs receive regular cost-of-living pay increases, which can help offset the challenges of the job.
  • Paid time off: USPS RCAs also receive paid vacation days and sick days, which can be used for rest and relaxation or to cover unexpected absences.
  • Flexible scheduling: USPS RCAs have some flexibility in their schedules, which can be helpful for balancing work and personal commitments.


  • Long hours: USPS RCAs often work long hours, particularly during peak delivery times. This can make it difficult to maintain a healthy work-life balance.
  • Difficult working conditions: USPS RCAs often work in challenging conditions, including inclement weather and rough terrain. This can make the job physically demanding and difficult to complete.
  • Limited advancement opportunities: USPS RCAs typically have limited opportunities for advancement, which can limit earning potential over time.

Overall, becoming a USPS Rural Carrier Associate can be a good option for those who are looking for stable employment with some perks and benefits. However, it’s important to be aware of the challenges of the job before making a commitment. Weighing the pros and cons carefully can help you decide if becoming a USPS RCA is right for you.


The USPS rural carrier associate position is a great way to get your foot in the door with the USPS. It is an entry-level position that offers on-the-job training and a competitive salary. The position is also a great way to get experience working with the public and in a USPS office. If you are looking for a career with the USPS, this is a great place to start. Thanks for reading!


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