Letter Carrier

Letter carriers are employees of Canada Post who sort and deliver mail for established routes, record delivery of registered mail and collect payments for cash-on-delivery (COD) parcels.

Also Known As:Mail Carrier
NOC Number(s):1462
Minimum Education:Education/training requirements vary
Employment Outlook:Job openings: turnover plus new jobs due to below average growth in occupation in Alberta 2013-2017
Interests:M o s

Duties | Working Conditions | Personal Characteristics | Education | Employment | Salary | Other Information | Related Occupations | Related Field of Study


On a typical day, letter carriers:

  • arrive at the post office at an established time between 3 and 8:30 a.m. and pick up the mail for their routes
  • sort mail into cases that have pigeon holes for every address on a route
  • bundle mail in preparation for delivery
  • prepare bags of mail for transport by truck to relay boxes along routes.

This takes about 30 per cent of their working day. For the remainder of their shift, they:

  • deliver letters, small packages and printed matter
  • collect money for COD parcels
  • record delivery of registered mail
  • leave cards telling people where to call for undeliverable mail
  • keep records of changes of address, redirect mail and complete forms to notify publishers of changes.

Letter carriers also may deliver telegrams or special types of mail.

Working Conditions

Letter carriers routinely lift pouches and sacks of mail weighing up to 22.7 kilograms and carry up to 15.9 kilograms. Route lengths vary from four to ten kilometres (400 to 600 deliveries) depending on the location and average daily volume of mail. Time motion studies called walk evaluations are done periodically to ensure that the work load is roughly the same for each letter carrier. Some letter carriers drive motor vehicles to reach routes that are not accessible by public transportation.

Letter carriers are on their feet all day and work in all types of weather conditions. They are provided with suitable uniforms for each season. Occupational hazards include unfriendly dogs, icy and snowy sidewalk conditions, and poorly maintained steps and sidewalks.

Personal Characteristics

Letter carriers need the following characteristics:

  • the physical strength and stamina required to carry a heavy satchel in all types of weather
  • a good memory for names and numbers
  • good organizational skills
  • the finger and manual dexterity required for sorting mail
  • a courteous manner and good communication skills for dealing with the public.

They should enjoy having clear guidelines for their work and following a set routine, handling printed matter and dealing with people.

Educational Requirements

For employment with Canada Post, letter carriers must pass a pre-employment test, interview and security screening. Other requirements include:

  • a high school diploma or equivalent 
  • experience working with the public and making deliveries according to a schedule (walking/climbing in all weather and traffic conditions)
  • a valid driver's license and a recent driver's abstract for the past two years with no more than six demerit points and no more than two minor infractions (no major infractions)
  • proficiency in maintaining records, preparing routine reports and organizing material
  • exceptional customer service skills.

Letter carriers receive four weeks of classroom training and on-the-job training.

Employment and Advancement

Letter carriers are employed by Canada Post in larger towns and cities across the country. They usually start as temporary employees who may be called in to work only a few days a month. The waiting period before obtaining a permanent position can be several years.

All letter carriers are members of the Canadian Union of Postal Workers (CUPW).

Most letter carriers remain in this classification but, with experience, advancement to supervisory and management positions is possible.

In Alberta, most people employed as letter carriers work in the Transportation and Warehousing industry.

The employment outlook in this occupation will be influenced by a wide variety of factors including:

  • trends and events affecting overall employment (especially in the Transportation and Warehousing industry)
  • location in Alberta
  • employment turnover (work opportunities generated by people leaving existing positions)
  • occupational growth (work opportunities resulting from the creation of new positions that never existed before)
  • size of the occupation.

Over 3,000 Albertans are employed in the Letter Carriers occupational group which is not expected to grow from 2013 to 2017 in Alberta.

Employment turnover is expected to increase as members of the baby boom generation retire over the next few years.

Section revised November 2013


Hourly wages for letter carriers range from $22.46 to $24.01 an hour (2009 figures). Benefits for permanent employees include a disability insurance plan, dental plan, vision care and hearing aid plan, group surgical and medical plan, supplementary death benefits plan, superannuation plan, minimum of three weeks vacation each year and paid sick leave.

Other Sources of Information

Canada Post website:

Canadian Union of Postal Workers (CUPW) website:

Related Occupational Profiles
Mail Sorter
Messenger or Courier
Postal/Wicket Clerk

Related Post-Secondary Field of Study
Personal and Food Services

Produced February 2009
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For more information on career planning, occupations and educational programs, visit the Alberta Learning Information Service (ALIS) website at, call the Alberta Career Information Hotline toll-free at 1-800-661-3753 or 780-422-4266 in Edmonton or visit an Alberta Works Centre near you.

The information contained in this profile was current as of the dates shown. Salaries, employment outlook and educational programs may change. Please check the information before making any career decisions.

Government of Alberta, Human Services