Postal Service Mail Sorter/Processing Machine Operator  What They Do

Just the Facts


Prepares incoming and outgoing mail for distribution. Examines, sorts, and routes mail. Loads, operates, and occasionally adjusts and repairs mail processing, sorting, and canceling machinery. Keeps records of shipments, pouches, and sacks; and other duties related to mail handling within the postal service.

This career is part of the Business, Management and Administration cluster Administrative Services pathway.


A person in this career:

  • Clears jams in sorting equipment.
  • Operates various types of equipment, such as computer scanning equipment, addressographs, mimeographs, optical character readers, and bar-code sorters.
  • Sorts odd-sized mail by hand, sorts mail that other workers have been unable to sort, and segregates items requiring special handling.
  • Directs items according to established routing schemes, using computer-controlled keyboards or voice-recognition equipment.
  • Checks items to ensure that addresses are legible and correct, that sufficient postage has been paid or the appropriate documentation is attached, and that items are in a suitable condition for processing.
  • Bundles, labels, and routes sorted mail to designated areas, depending on destinations and according to established procedures and deadlines.
  • Moves containers of mail, using equipment such as forklifts and automated "trains".
  • Opens and labels mail containers.
  • Loads and unloads mail trucks, sometimes lifting containers of mail onto equipment that transports items to sorting stations.
  • Distributes incoming mail into the correct boxes or pigeonholes.

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Postal Service Mail Sorters, Processors and Processing Machine Operators

Working Conditions and Physical Demands

People who do this job report that:

  • You would often handle loads up to 10 lbs., sometimes up to 20 lbs. You might do a lot of walking or standing, or you might sit but use your arms and legs to control machines, equipment or tools.
  • Work in this occupation involves bending or twisting your body more than one-third of the time
  • Work in this occupation involves use of protective items such as safety shoes, glasses, gloves, hearing protection, a hard hat, or personal flotation devices
  • Exposure to pollutants, gases, dust, fumes, odors, poor ventilation, etc.
  • Work in this occupation involves using your hands to hold, control, and feel objects more than one-third of the time
  • Exposed to hazardous equipment such as saws, machinery, or vehicular traffic more than once a month
  • Work in this occupation requires being inside most of the time
  • Sound and noise levels are loud and distracting
  • Work in this occupation involves making repetitive motions more than one-third of the time
  • Work in this occupation involves standing more than one-third of the time
  • Work in this occupation involves walking or running more than one-third of the time

Working in this career involves (physical activities):

  • Seeing clearly up close
  • Speaking clearly enough to be able to be understood by others
  • Identifying and understanding the speech of another person
  • Lifting, pushing, pulling, or carrying objects
  • Using abdominal and lower back muscles repeatedly or over time without tiring

Work Hours and Travel

  • Regular working hours and limited travel

Specialty and Similar Careers

Careers that are more detailed or close to this career:

  • Automation Clerk --
  • Computer Forwarding System Markup Clerk (CFS Markup Clerk) --
  • Distribution Clerk --
  • Flat Sorting Machine Clerk (FSM Clerk) --
  • Mail Handler --
  • Mail Handler Equipment Operator --
  • Mail Processing Clerk --
  • Mail Processor --
  • Parcel Post Distribution Machine Operator (PDPMO) --
  • Small Package and Bundle Sorter Clerk (SPBS Clerk) --