Rural Carrier Associate
Test required: Postal Exam 473 / 473E
Starting Wages: Wages vary by location. The average in 2009 was $18.00 per hour.
The Rural Carrier Associate (RCA) job is a non-career long-term relief position. RCA’s cover for full-time career Rural Carriers when the full-timer is out due to sick leave, vacation leave, days off, etc. Depending upon the size of the facility and the number of full-time Rural Carriers based there, an RCA might work anywhere from only one or two days a week up to over 40 hours a week. If an RCA is based in a smaller facility with limited hours to offer, he/she is often able to get more hours by covering for full-timers at other nearby facilities.
An RCA must own a reliable personal vehicle and is expected to use this personal vehicle for delivering mail. However, the RCA is compensated on a generous per-mile basis for using the personal vehicle. An RCA performs functions similar to a City Carrier but in a rural environment.
The Postal Service is always recruiting RCA’s because not everyone views this as a wonderful employment opportunity. This means that the job is easy to get because there is little competition. And the job does offer several distinct advantages for those seeking a career position as explained below:
- This is one the few temporary Postal jobs that can work directly in to a career position. There is only one way to get a career Rural Carrier job. When one of these full-time jobs becomes available, it is offered to the RCA who has worked at that particular facility the longest. It may take a few years for such an opportunity become available, but it can be shorter. Some RCA’s are converted to career employees shortly after or even immediately upon being hired. By the way, many Postal employees will tell you that a career Rural Carrier position is the best possible Postal job to have. They say that you work with little supervision almost like being self-employed and in a rural environment that is far more comfortable than an inner-city or metro area.
- The goal of many RCA’s is to get a career position, so they continually search for full-time job postings and apply for any feasible opportunities. And they can apply with little effort since (1) most jobs are filled from exam 473E, (2) they already have a 473E exam score, and (3) they have already gone through the monumental effort of creating an online profile in the new eCareer Postal application system. Here’s where the advantage of an RCA job comes in… If their score is high enough to get an interview invitation, they have it made. They will breeze through the interview without question — assuming of course that they have been a valued and productive employee while working as an RCA. The interview will be a mere formality. When comparing a known productive employee against several unknowns, a Postmaster/interviewer will choose the known productive employee every time.