Working as a Postal Inspector

The U.S. Postal Inspection Service is responsible for protecting the Postal Service and securing the nation’s mail system. Postal inspectors are federal law enforcement agents and authorized criminal investigators in any matter involving the security of the U.S. Postal Service. They perform investigative and security-related duties to ensure that the U.S. postal system remains safe and can be trusted by the public.

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Job Description: A Day in the Life of a Postal Inspector

Postal inspectors investigate any suspicious activity involving the violation of postal-related laws. They may execute search warrants, collect evidence, prepare court reports and testify in court trials. They may also work in labs with forensic specialists to help filter potentially dangerous articles of mail.

General Requirements and Training

To become a postal inspector, candidates must be from age 21 to 36 and ½ at the time of appointment, possess a four-year college degree, hold a valid driver’s license, meet certain physical requirements and have a clean criminal record. A written and oral test, drug test, background check, polygraph test, and interview must also be passed.

There are four specific skills named by the U.S. Postal Service which make postal investigator applicants more desirable: foreign language skills, former postal experience, specialized non-postal experience such as military experience or a law degree, and excellent academic achievement.

Successful candidates must attend the Residential Basic Inspector Training program in Potomac, Maryland. Training includes academic subjects covering the major areas of investigation and administration performed by postal inspectors, firearms use, and physical fitness and defensive tactics. Practical exercises allow students to practice the lessons they have learned in simulated real-life scenarios.

Salary, Benefits and Opportunities for Advancement

Postal inspectors are paid on the Inspection Service Law Enforcement (ISLE) pay scale, which corresponds to the GS pay scale. Entry-level base pay ranges from the equivalent of a GS Grade 9 ($45,627 – $59,316 to a Grade 12 ($66,167 – $86,021) based on 2020 pay rates. Postal workers also receive LEAP and locality pay.

Benefits for U.S. Postal Inspectors include relocation aid, paid vacation, sick leave, federal health benefits and life insurance, federal thrift savings plan, Social Security, Medicare, and retirement plans.

Opportunities for promotion for postal inspectors are available, with salaries potentially increasing to the equivalent of the Grade GS 13.

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