Applicants must be U.S. citizens and at least 21 years of age and less than 37 years of age at the time of appointment, except for preference eligible veterans for whom there is currently no maximum age limit.
Male applicants born after December 31, 1959 must have registered with the Selective Service prior to applying.
The applicant must possess a conferred Bachelors Degree from a college or university that is accredited by a regional or national organization recognized by the U.S. Department of Education, hold a current valid state drivers license issued not less than two years prior to the application, have no felony convictions or a misdemeanor conviction involving domestic violence (felony and misdemeanor charges may also render the applicant ineligible), pass a comprehensive visual examination and a hearing acuity test, and be in good physical condition, with weight in proportion to height, and possess emotional and mental stability.
In addition, the applicant must demonstrate the following attributes, as measured by the Assessment Center evaluation: (1) write and speak English clearly, (2) schedule and complete activities in a logical, timely sequence, (3) comprehend and execute instructions written and spoken in English, (4) think clearly and comprehend verbal and nonverbal information, (5) interact with others to obtain or exchange information or services, and (6) perceive or identify relevant details and associate them with other facts.
There are four special knowledge tracks that make applicants more competitive for the position of Postal Inspector: language skills, postal experience, specialized non-postal skills, and academic achievement. Candidates without special knowledge will be only minimally qualified.
Candidates who seek eligibility under language skills must have advanced competency in a foreign language deemed by the Postal Inspection Service as necessary to meeting its investigative mission. These languages currently include the following:
- Greek (modern)
Candidates must pass a formal oral proficiency test administered by a contractor of the Postal Inspection Service. In addition to the language requirement, candidates in this track must have one year of full-time work experience with the same company or firm within two years of the date of their application.
Candidates seeking consideration under the specialized postal experience track must within the last two years have been a U.S. Postal Service employee, contractor, or intern.
Specialized Non-postal Experience
Candidates seeking consideration under the specialized non-postal experience track must have experience in an area of expertise considered critical to the needs of the Postal Inspection Service. Candidates must also have one year of full-time work experience with the same company or firm within two years of the date of their application. Critical areas of expertise follow:
Military Experience. Candidates must have served at least two years in the military and received an honorable discharge. Candidates with international or bioterrorism experience preferred.
Law Degree. Candidates must have a Juris Doctorate degree and one year of full-time work experience in the law field.
Certifications in Auditing or Investigations. Candidates with certifications in auditing, such as Certified Public Accountant (CPA), Certified Management Accountant (CMA), Certified Internal Auditor (CIA), and Certified Information Systems Auditor (CISA); or investigative certifications in protection, security, or fraud examination, such as Certified Protection Professional (CPP) and Certified Fraud Examiner (CFE), are eligible under this skill track. Candidates must provide proof of certification and one year of full-time work experience in this field.
Specialized Computer Education. Candidates with a four-year degree in computer science, computer engineering, telecommunications, management information systems, electronic commerce, decision and information science, or computer information systems and one year of full-time work experience in this field are eligible under this skill track.
Specialized Computer Expertise. Candidates who are currently employed, and have been employed for at least one year in a position specializing in computer forensics, Internet investigations, Internet security, network security, or information systems security and one year of full-time work experience in this field are eligible under this skill track.
Certifications in Computer Systems. Candidates with a certification as a Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer (MCSE), Microsoft Certified Professional + Internet (MCP+I), Cisco Certified Network Professional (CCNP), Certified Novell Engineer (CNE), A+ Certified Computer Technician, Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP), Linux certification, or Sun Systems Certified Administrator and one year of full-time work experience in this field are eligible under this skill track.
Law Enforcement. Candidates with at least one full year of law enforcement experience as detectives, criminalists, and polygraph examiners or as patrol, probation, correction, and parole officers are eligible under this skill track, but must provide examples of the type of work conducted. (This track excludes clerical or technical support personnel.)
Bioterrorism Investigations. Candidates with at least one full year of bioterrorism investigation experience are eligible under this skill track. Specific examples of the type of work conducted will be required.
To increase competitiveness and acquire a more diversified candidate pool, candidates may enter the recruitment process along a fourth track, academic achievement with or without work experience.
Academic Achievement with work experience. Candidates with at least one year of full-time work experience with the same company, within two years of the date of their application, are eligible under this skill track.
Candidates with a Bachelor’s degree (B.A. or B.S. in any field) must have two years of full-time work experience.
Candidates with an Advanced degree (M.A., M.S., or Ph.D. in any field) must have one year of full-time work experience.
Academic Achievement without work experience. Candidates with a Bachelor’s degree (a B.A. or B.S. in any field) and a cumulative grade point average (GPA) of 3.0 or higher (on a 4.0 scale) or its equivalent, or an advanced degree (J.D., M.A., M.S., or Ph.D. in any field) are eligible under this skill track.
The U.S. Postal Inspection Service is committed to a drug-free workplace. The unlawful use of drugs by employees is not tolerated, and those who apply for employment with the Postal Inspection Service and illegally use or sell drugs are considered unsuitable for employment.
The Postal Inspection Service drug policy balances the need to maintain a drug-free workplace and the integrity necessary to accomplish its mission with the desirability of affording employment opportunities to the broadest segment of society, consistent with those needs. The policy is as follows:
Candidates who have illegally used drugs while in a law enforcement or prosecutorial position, or while in a position with a high level of responsibility or public trust are considered unsuitable for employment.
Candidates who have misrepresented their drug history in their application are considered unsuitable for employment.
Candidates who have illegally sold a drug are considered unsuitable for employment.
Candidates who have illegally used any drug (other than cannabis*) within the past 10 years are considered unsuitable for employment, absent compelling or mitigating circumstances.
Candidates who have used cannabis within the past three years are considered unsuitable for employment absent compelling or mitigating circumstances.
*Cannabis may include marijuana, hashish, hash oil, and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).
Candidates not in compliance with the Postal Inspection Service Drug Policy will not be considered for employment. Postal Inspectors are randomly tested for illegal drug use throughout their careers.
The applicant process for most Postal Inspector applicants consists of the following phases:
Completion of application. Applications may be completed online only during open seasons.
Completion of a two-part on-line entrance examination. Part one of the exam is not proctored and may be completed anywhere the candidate can gain access to the internet. (Candidates who fail part one may be eligible for one retest, provided they meet the job qualifications at the time of the retest.) A selected number candidates that are successful on part one will be invited to complete part two, as a part of an Information Exchange, at a designated facility.
Participation in an Information Exchange. A Postal Inspection Service representative will meet with a group of invited candidates and facilitate an Information Exchange which includes the completion of the part two of the entrance exam, submission of paperwork to complete the comprehensive application package, a video presentation, and a question-and-answer session.
Completion of the Comprehensive Application Packet, including forms used to initiate the National Agency Check for obtaining the Top Secret Security Clearance required for all Postal Inspectors.
Language proficiency test, if applicable.
Assessment Center evaluation of knowledge, skills, and abilities - A simulation of exercises used to assess core competencies needed by successful Postal Inspectors. (Candidates who fail the Assessment Center may be eligible for one reassessment, provided they meet the job qualifications at the time of the reassessment.)
Polygraph examination to validate information obtained during the application process, including illegal drug use, criminal history, and integrity issues.
Background suitability investigation.
Medical examination – An employment physical will only be administered to candidates who have received a contingent offer of employment. Successful completion of the employment physical is the final step in the selection process.
Once an official appointment date has been established, the candidate begins:
Residential Basic Inspector Training program at Potomac, MD. Graduation from the training program is a condition of employment.
Six-month probation period for non-postal candidates.
Current qualified Federal Law Enforcement Criminal Investigators (Occupational Code 1811), or equivalent, may be permitted to participate in an abbreviated applicant process, consisting of the following steps:
Comprehensive application packet.
National agency check (unless documentation is provided indicating the agent has a Top Secret security clearance.
Background investigation and management interview.
Employment physical and drug screening.
Basic Inspector Training Process
Basic Inspector Training at the Career Development Unit (CDU) covers four areas:
Each candidate must participate fully in all program areas and achieve specific minimum academic and performance levels to graduate. Graduation from basic training is a condition of employment. Failure to meet the minimum academic and performance levels will result in the termination of the appointment.
Classroom instruction is divided into courses, or lesson blocks, which address the major areas of investigation and administration that Postal Inspectors are expected to perform. Three examinations will be given during training to evaluate students’ understanding of the subject matter.
Rigorous firearms training provides beginning through advanced students with the skills needed to handle firearms safely and develop shooting proficiency.
Firearms proficiency is tested twice during the program. Students must meet the standards set by the National Threat Management Committee and qualify on the Postal Inspection Service Practical Pistol Course using the service-issued weapon. Students must also qualify on the shotgun course. The shotgun qualifications course consists of demonstrated safety, proper loading and unloading of the weapon, and firing rounds from various positions.
Physical Fitness/Defensive Tactics
All student Postal Inspectors must participate fully in both the physical fitness and defensive tactics programs.
The physical fitness program familiarizes students with various exercise options designed to improve their physical condition. Classroom time is set aside for physical fitness workouts, but students are responsible for additional workouts outside of class.
The defensive tactics program requires that students demonstrate the techniques taught and practiced through a practical exam and dynamic practical exercises. Students must develop the ability to use a level of force appropriate to the threat. After each course of instruction, students’ abilities to perform assigned maneuvers are evaluated by the instructors.
Practical exercises allow students the opportunity to perform the lessons learned during classroom activities and defensive tactics in a real-life simulation.
For those who meet the employment requirement, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service has highly competitive compensation and benefits.
Postal Inspectors are exempt from the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and do not qualify for overtime compensation. Salaries are based on the Inspection Service Law Enforcement (ISLE) pay scale, which corresponds to the General Schedule (GS) pay scale for law enforcement officers. Minimum-entry base pay levels range from the equivalent of a Grade 9, Step 1 to Grade 12, Step 10. The entry level salary for transferring 1811s range from a Grade 9, Step 1 to Grade 13, Step 10.
A candidate’s qualifications and current pay—excluding overtime, premiums, night differential, higher-level details, and second incomes—are considered when entry levels are established.
In addition to basic pay, Postal Inspectors receive locality pay and law enforcement availability pay. Postal Inspectors in the CONUS receive locality pay (ranging from 13.86% to 34.35% in 2009) based on the cost of living in various parts of the country. Postal Inspectors domiciled in Hawaii, Alaska, and the U.S. territories receive territorial cost-of-living allowances (TCOLA); which is a percentage of salary that is determined and published by the Office of Personnel Management.
Candidates start earning locality pay when they begin the training academy. LEAP increases annual salaries by 25% and is applied upon graduation from the academy. Transferring 1811's, attending the Federal Investigator Orientation, receive LEAP while at the academy.
The U.S. Postal Service offers a generous leave program for Postal Inspectors, including annual (vacation) leave, sick leave, and holiday leave.
Annual leave is accrued based on length of federal service, as follows:
First three years of service: earn 13 days per year of annual leave.
Three through 15 years of service: earn 20 days per year of annual leave.
More than 15 years of service: earn 26 days per year of annual leave.
Postal Inspectors earn 13 days of sick leave each year as insurance against the loss of income due to an illness or accident. There is no maximum on the number of sick leave hours that may be carried over from year to year, but Postal Inspectors are encouraged to carry over as much sick leave as possible.
The Postal Service observes all federal holidays, which include New Year’s Day, Martin Luther King Jr. Day, President’s Day, Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, Columbus Day, Veteran’s Day, Thanksgiving, and Christmas.
Annual Leave Exchange
Postal Inspectors may obtain a lump-sum payment in exchange for up to 108 hours of annual leave that otherwise would be advanced at the beginning of a leave year. To be eligible for the payment, Postal Inspectors must have a minimum of 160 hours of annual leave at the close of the current leave year.
The U.S. Postal Service participates in the Federal Employees Health Benefits (FEHB) Program, which provides excellent coverage and flexibility, with most costs paid by the agency. A variety of plans are available, including both traditional insurance and health maintenance organization (HMO) coverage.
The Postal Service offers coverage through the Federal Employees’ Group Life Insurance (FEGLI) Program. Employees may purchase life insurance valued up to five times their base salaries.
Thrift Savings Plan (TSP)
Career employees may immediately contribute to the TSP on a tax-deferred basis, similar to private sector 401(k) retirement savings plans. Employees may, when eligible, receive automatic and matching contributions (up to five percent of pay) from the Postal Service.
Flexible Spending Accounts (FSAs)
Career employees may enroll in FSAs after one year of service. Tax-free FSA contributions may be used to cover most out-of-pocket health and dependent (day care) care expenses.
The commuter program allows employees to obtain relief from escalating home-to-work commuting costs, such as parking, subway, bus, and vanpool fees. Authorized commuting costs are paid through pre-tax payroll purchases. All Postal Inspectors may participate in the program, but new hires must wait 30 days.
Social Security (SS) is the federal government's basic method of providing a continuing income to workers and their families when their earnings are terminated or reduced because of retirement, disability, or death. Social Security insurance payments are not meant to replace all lost earnings; therefore, employees are encouraged to supplement Social Security payments with savings, private pensions, investments, or other insurance.
The Health Care Financing Administration (HCFA) is responsible for administering the federal health insurance program commonly known as Medicare. This program was established to provide comprehensive health insurance protection for people age 65 or older and certain disabled people. Medicare is composed of two parts - hospital insurance and medical insurance. In most instances, a person must file an application for benefits and must meet certain eligibility requirements to actually receive benefits under those programs.
All Postal Inspectors are covered under either the Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS) or the Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS). Most newly hired Postal Inspectors are covered under FERS, with the exception of those transferring from other Federal positions, who may be covered under CSRS. Postal Inspectors who meet the following age and years of service as a federal law enforcement officer are eligible to retire under the special provisions for law enforcement officers.
Years of Service
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The U.S. Postal Inspection Service is an Equal Opportunity Employer.
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