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EMPLOYMENT FAQs

General Questions
•  How to apply
•  After you apply
•  Technical issues
•  Online exam
•  Proctored exam
•  Comprehensive Application Packet
•  Assessment Center
•  Relocation
•  Position offer

1811 Questions
•  Excepted and competitive positions
•  Process
•  Interagency transfers

Veterans' Preference
•  Process
•  Qualifications
•  Retirement
•  For spouses and mothers of veterans
•  10-point eligibility

EMPLOYMENT GUIDES
Delivering a World of Career Opportunities
Publication 260-A
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Inspector Entrance Exam Preparation
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General Questions

How to apply
Q. How do I apply to become a U.S. Postal Inspector?
A. Applicants should visit our online application page for information on hiring periods.

Q. Are there announcements stating when applications are being received?
A. We post hiring information at https://postalinspectors.uspis.gov/ under the Employment tab.

Q. Can I apply for a position as a U.S. Postal Inspector at any time?
A. You may apply only during a hiring period, which is announced on our website.

Q. Can I access the application before a hiring period begins?
A. You can access the online application only during a hiring period.

Q. Can I submit my resume before a hiring period, or instead of applying online?
A. You may only apply online during a hiring period.

Q. Can I apply if I receive a degree after the application process is announced?
A. No, you must have a conferred degree from an accredited four-year college or university at the time you submit an application.

Q. Is a recruiter available who could answer questions not addressed on the website?
A. Recruiters in field locations will be available throughout the application process. However, submit all questions to PIRecruitment@uspis.gov.

Q. If I have previously applied and my status is active, do I need to reapply?
A. Email PIRecruitment@uspis.gov to ensure your status is active.

Q. I have applied and am waiting to reapply. What should I do?
A. Our system recognizes applicants who have previously applied. Email PIRecruitment@uspis.gov to verify you’re eligible to reapply, and to update status.

Q. How do I update personal information for an application already on file?
A. If you submitted an application on or after October 1, 2007, go to the online application and look for “previously registered applicants” to update your profile. If you applied before October 2007, submit to PIRecruitment@uspis.gov.

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After you apply
Q. Will I be notified about where I am in the application process?
A. No, but you can email PIRecruitment@uspis.gov for status.

Q. I’ve completed the application. How long will it be before I’m hired?
A. You are not guaranteed a job offer. You must complete other processes before reaching the “ready for hire” list. The length of time between applying and hiring varies, depending on the number of vacancies and agency needs.

Q. What can I expect after completing the application?
A. The system generates a message based on your responses. You’ll either be eligible or ineligible to participate in the next phase of the process.

Q. How will I know what made me ineligible?
A. Use the “View” link after completing the application to see any answers, shown in red, that made you ineligible.

Q. If I accidently submit an error on an application, can I correct it?
A. You can’t change an application once you’ve submitted it. We encourage applicants to review responses before clicking on the “submit” button, as you can’t submit a second application during a single hiring period.

Q. If I was disqualified from the process for a cause that is now resolved, can I be reconsidered?
A. Submit a letter explaining the situation to PIRecruitment@uspis.gov .

Q. Why did I receive a message that I was not required to take the online exams, and then told I did have to take the exams?
A. Only federal law enforcement agents with Occupational Code 1811 (or its equivalent, 2501) are exempted from online exams. If you don’t have this status, you’re required to take the online exam and must wait for a future hiring period to reapply.

Q. Once my application is accepted, when can I expect to begin training?
A. Completing the applicant process doesn’t guarantee you a job, and the length of time between applying and training varies, depending on the number of vacancies and agency needs. The number of vacancies determines the number of classes.

Q. How long does each portion of the recruitment process remain valid?
A. Entrance exams and Assessment Center results are valid for five years. Polygraph results and Comprehensive Application Packages are valid for two years, and national agency checks are valid for four years. Background investigations and physicals are valid for one year, and drug screening is valid for 90 days.

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Technical issues
Q. I tried to register and create an account a few hours ago and haven’t received a response.
A. You must register and create an account to validate your email address. If you don’t receive a response, your email couldn’t be validated, perhaps due to an error in the address. You should create a new account.

Q. I received this message: “There is a problem validating this SSN. Please contact the Applicant Processing Unit by emailing PIRecruitment@uspis.gov .”
A. This message appears if you applied for the position in the past. Contact the Applicant Processing Unit to verify your SSN. Once it’s determined you’re eligible to reapply, you can continue the process.

Q. The “Comodo” symbol in the lower-right corner is blocking some options. How can I get around it?
A. “Comodo” is a security symbol which appears on all secure pages. If it blocks a portion of the screen, scroll up to see options at the bottom of the page.

Q. What about other technical difficulties (other than SSNs and returned emails)?
A. Email PIRecruitment@uspis.gov for resolution.

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Online exam
Q. Will I need to take an online exam once I apply for this position?
A. Yes, applicants must complete and pass an online exam within 72 hours of submitting an application.

Q. If I fail the online exam, am I disqualified from the process?
A. Yes, applicants who fail the exam will be removed from the process and must reapply during another hiring period.

Q. If I fail the online exam, how do I find out which section I failed?
A. The test is scored electronically. Answers are not provided. You either pass or fail.

Q. I am an enlisted member of the Armed Forces. Must I take the online exam?
A. Yes. Only federal employees with an Occupational Code of 1811 (or its equivalent, 2501) and in a Competitive Service position are exempted from the online exam.

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Proctored exam
Q. If I pass the online exam, when do I take the next exam?
A. A proctored exam is administered locally. A recruiter will schedule you for this.

Q. If I fail the proctored exam, am I disqualified from the process?
A. Yes, if you fail the exam you’ll be removed from the process. You may reapply during another hiring period.

Q. If I fail the proctored exam, how do I find out which section I failed?
A. The test is taken and scored electronically. Answers are not provided. You either pass or fail.

Comprehensive Application Packet
Q. What is the time frame for sending out Comprehensive Application Packets (CAPs) ?
A. There is no specific time frame for sending these out.

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Assessment 
Center
Q. If I’m waiting to attend an Assessment Center, should I reapply during an active hiring period?
A. No, do not reapply.

Q. How long must I wait to attend an Assessment Center?
A. There is no time frame. Selections are based on skill sets, targeted areas, and agency needs. An administrator will contact you if you’ve been selected.

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Relocation
Q. If I’m extended a job offer, will I have to relocate?
A. Postal Inspectors are subject to transfer at any time to meet agency needs. Some offers of employment require relocation.

Q. Are relocation benefits provided?
A. Relocation benefits may be offered at the discretion of the agency. Some offers are made without relocation benefits.

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Position offer
Q. If I’m offered a position, will I be notified at least a month in advance so I can prepare for possible relocation?
A. Relocation does not begin until after you successfully complete 12 weeks of Basic Inspector Training. We make every effort to allow applicants a minimum of two weeks' notice to their current employers.

Q. If I decline an offer, am I out of the process, or will I be placed at the end of the application pool?
A. Applicants remain on the selection pool list, but there is no guarantee that another job offer will be extended.

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1811 Questions

Excepted and competitive 1811 positions
Q. What defines “excepted” and “competitive” service agencies and positions?
A. Competitive Service—All civilian positions in the federal government not specifically excepted from the civil service laws by or pursuant to statute, by the President, or by the OPM under Rule VI, and not in the Senior Executive Service.

Excepted Service—Unclassified service, unclassified civil service, or positions outside the competitive service and the senior executive service. Excepted service positions have been excepted from the requirements of the competitive service by law, executive order, or OPM regulation.

NOTE: The U.S. Postal Service is an excepted service agency, and Postal Inspectors are excepted service positions.

Q. How do federal employees know if they’re in an excepted or competitive service position?
A. The position type on Form 50 determines transfer eligibility.

Q. Does it matter if my agency is an excepted or competitive agency?
A. No. These positions can exist in either an excepted or competitive agency.

Individuals employed by competitive or excepted service organizations who are currently assigned to an excepted service position are not eligible for noncompetitive transfer to the Postal Service.

Individuals employed by competitive or excepted service organizations who are currently assigned to a competitive service position are eligible for noncompetitive transfer to the Postal Service.

Q. How do 1811s apply for a Postal Inspector position if they’re in an excepted position?
A. Use the application portal of this website during a hiring period.

Q. How do 1811s apply for this position if they’re in a competitive position?
A. Apply on this website or request a non-competitive transfer per the Interagency Transfer Policy. To be eligible, submit a letter of request for transfer (including desired locations), resume, copy of a current Form 50, and proof of a completed Bachelor’s degree. Email 1811 interagency transfers to PIRecruitment@uspis.gov.

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1811 process
Q. Are 1811s automatically accepted for the position of Postal Inspector?
A. Interagency 1811 transfers can’t be offered to all 1811s. Postal policy states that Excepted Service positions may not be noncompetitively transferred to the Postal Inspection Service. 1811s in Excepted Service undergo the same abbreviated processing as 1811s who apply noncompetitively. They may only be offered a position as a Postal Inspector on a competitive basis.

Q. Must an applicant be in an 1811 position for a specified period to be eligible to apply to be a Postal Inspector?
A. There are no time-in-service requirements for 1811s transferring to this position. The only prerequisites are a four-year college degree from an accredited university, the ability to obtain Top Secret clearance, and completion of an accredited law enforcement training academy.

Q. What documents are required to verify Criminal Investigator Series GS-1811 employment status?
A. A current SF 50, Notice of Personnel Action.

Q. How do federal law enforcement officers find their Occupational Code?
A. Your Occupational Code is shown on Form 50, Notice of Personnel Action.

Q. I am an 1811 and was notified that I passed the exam, but I never took it. What happened?
A. 1811s have an abbreviated application process that bypasses the exam. You will soon receive information on the next phase of the process.

Q. Do 1811s undergo a different application process?
A. The Chief Postal Inspector may waive requirements for pre-assessment exams, an Assessment Center evaluation, a polygraph, and a residential Basic Inspector Training Program.

Q. What screening steps are 1811s required to complete?
A. A Comprehensive Application Package (CAP), National Agency Check & NCIC, background investigation, management interview, drug screening, and pre-employment physical are required. Background investigations include inquiries with your current employer.

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1811 interagency transfers
Q. Are pay levels the same for 1811 interagency transfer candidates?
A. Applicants selected for hire or transfer are offered entry pay at an ISLE grade and step, equivalent to GS grade and step, not to exceed an ISLE 13, Step 10.

Q. Are grade levels the same for 1811 interagency transfers?
A. See the answer above. The minimum entry level is ISLE 10, Step 1. 1811 transfers are placed at a level commensurate with experience. 1811s applying for transfers without extensive experience will be placed appropriately.

Q. What type of training will interagency 1811 transfers receive?
A. Training is at the discretion of the agency. Candidates with 1811 experience may be required to complete Basic Inspector Training or other training designed for those with 1811 experience.

Q. If selected for an interagency 1811 transfer, will I be required to stay with the agency for a specified period of time?
A. There is no current policy on retaining transfers, unless employees are relocated or attend Basic Inspector Training. If relocation benefits are approved, you must stay for two years or repay relocation expenses. Basic Inspector Training students must repay prorated training costs of the academy if they leave the agency within two years.

Q. Can I select the assignment and location of my choice as an 1811 interagency transfer?
A. Location preferences are considered in the hiring process, but there is no guarantee of assignment. Postal Inspectors are required to be mobile, and a future relocation may become a requirement of the job. Assignments are based on agency needs.

Q. Does an 1811 interagency transfer have to serve a probationary period?
A. If a candidate occupied an 1811 position for one full year prior to transfer, they are not required to serve a probationary period.

EL 312, 584.32, Career Appointment to Nonbargaining Position, states that an applicant selected for career appointment to a nonbargaining position must serve a probationary period of six months of continuous service in the Postal Service, or 12 months of combined service (federal and postal) without a break of a workday in positions in the same line of work.

Q. I submitted a request for a non-competitive transfer to Postal Inspector per the Interagency Transfer Policy. How long will it be before I’m hired?
A. You are not guaranteed a job offer. You must complete additional processes to reach the “ready for hire” list. The time between completing an application and hiring varies, depending on the number of vacancies and agency needs.

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Veterans' Preference

Process
Q. What is a “veterans’ preference”?
A. By law, veterans who are disabled or who served on active duty in the Armed Forces during certain specified time periods or in military campaigns are entitled to preference over others in hiring from competitive lists of eligibles and also in retention during reductions in force.

Q. Why is preference given?
A. Since the time of the Civil War, veterans of the Armed Forces have been given some degree of preference in appointments to federal jobs. Recognizing their sacrifice, Congress enacted laws to prevent veterans seeking federal employment from being penalized for their time in military service. Veterans' preference recognizes economic losses suffered by those who served their country in uniform, restores veterans to a favorable competitive position for government employment, and acknowledges the larger obligation owed to disabled veterans.

Q. How does a veteran preference-eligible apply for a Postal Inspector position?
A. Questions in the online application identifies veterans who claim to be preference-eligible.

Q. Does a preference-eligible veteran need a degree?
A. Yes, preference-eligible veterans must meet all the requirements for the position of Postal Inspector.

Q. If an applicant served on active duty in the Armed Forces, are they able to claim veterans' preference when applying for federal jobs?
A. Maybe. Not all veterans are considered veterans for the purpose of federal civilian employment under Title 5, U.S. Code, section 2108, and not all active duty service qualifies for veterans' preference. Veterans' preference is based on dates of active duty service, receipt of campaign badges or Purple Heart, or having a service-connected disability.

Q. What is the application process for veterans in 1811 positions?
A. The process for 1811 transfers/hires is the same as for veterans-preference eligibles and non-vets. Those in 1811 positions may not follow the same steps as other applicants, but veteran-preference eligibility will need to be adjudicated.

Q. I lost my DD-214, Certificate of Release or Discharge from Active Duty. How can I obtain a copy?
A. Obtain a copy of DD-214 and other military service records from the National Archives at http://www.archives.gov/veterans/military-service-records/get-service-records.html.

Q. Once a veteran’s application is received, what are the next steps in the process?
A. If a veteran is claiming a preference, the agency will adjudicate whether the veteran is entitled to claim the preference.

Q. Can I remain a member of the Reserves or National Guard if appointed to the position of Postal Inspector?
A. Yes.

Q. Who can I contact if I have other veterans’ preference questions?
A. Email PIRecruitment@uspis.gov

See the OPM website http://www.fedshirevets.gov/ for other veterans’ preference questions.

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Qualifications
Q. What are the qualifications to claim veterans’ preference?
A. A veteran must have been discharged or released from active duty in the Armed Forces under honorable conditions (i.e., with an honorable or general discharge). "Armed Forces" means the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps and Coast Guard. A veteran must also be eligible under one of the preference categories below.

  • Military retirees at the rank of major, lieutenant commander, or higher are not eligible for preference in appointment unless they are disabled veterans. (This does not apply to reservists, who do not begin drawing military retired pay until age 60.)
  • For non-disabled applicants, active duty for training by National Guard or Reserve soldiers does not qualify as "active duty" for preference.
  • For disabled veterans, active duty includes training service in the Reserves or National Guard.
  • "War" means only those armed conflicts declared by Congress as war.

Q. Who determines eligibility to claim veterans' preference?
A. Our Applicant Processing Unit will request a copy of DD-214, Certificate of Release or Discharge from Active Duty, or other documents to adjudicate a claim for veterans' preference.

Q. Are veterans guaranteed a job offer with the Postal Inspection Service?
A. No.

Q. Can a federal employee use veterans' preference in applying for another competitive position in a different federal agency?
A. Yes. There is no limit to the number of times you can use a veterans' preference.

Q. Can a veteran apply to the Postal Service or Postal Inspection Service more than once claiming veterans’ preference?
A. Preference-eligible veterans can apply more than once, but may only use the preference once to be hired by USPS or the Postal Inspection Service.

Q. What is the age limit for veterans to apply for the position of Postal Inspector?
A. You must be a U.S. citizen, 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 no maximum age limit. Preference-eligible vets may be hired after age 37.

Q. What is the process for preference-eligible veterans who want to apply for this position but are over the age of 37?
A. Preference-eligible vets must identify themselves. The application identifies vets who are preference-eligible.

Q. Can I apply for a position as Postal Inspector prior to my Expiration Term of Service (ETS)?
A. Yes. But preference eligibility requires discharge or release from active duty in the Armed Forces under honorable conditions.

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Retirement
Q. What are retirement requirements for preference-eligible veterans?
A. Law enforcement retirement eligibility under the Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS) allows retirement at age 50, after 20 years of law enforcement service. Law enforcement retirement eligibility under the Federal Employee Retirement System (FERS) allows retirement at age 50, after 20 years of law enforcement service, or at any age after 25 years of law enforcement service. Mandatory retirement for Postal Inspectors is at age 57.

For preference-eligible veterans hired after age 37, mandatory retirement is at the end of the month after 20 years of law enforcement service. Retirement contributions based on law enforcement retirement, in addition to FERS contributions, are withheld. If a preference-eligible vet hired after age 37 is unable to complete 20 years of law enforcement service, law enforcement retirement is not possible. In this case, law enforcement retirement is converted to CSRS or FERS retirement, and law enforcement contributions are refunded.

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For spouses and mothers of veterans
Q. Are spouses or mothers of veterans entitled to a veterans’ preference?
A. Yes, when the spouse of a disabled veteran who is disqualified for a federal position along the lines of his or her usual occupation because of a service-connected disability is entitled to a veterans’ preference, or when the widow or widower of a veteran who was not divorced from the veteran has not remarried, or the remarriage was annulled, and the veteran either:

  • Served during a war or from April 28, 1952 – July 1, 1955, or in a campaign or expedition for which a campaign medal has been authorized; or
  • Died while on active duty that included service described above, under conditions that would not have been the basis for other than an honorable or general discharge.

The mother of a veteran who died under honorable conditions while on active duty during a war or during the period April 28, 1952, through July 1, 1955, or in a campaign or expedition for which a campaign medal has been authorized; and

  • She is or was married to the father of the veteran; and
  • She lives with her totally and permanently disabled husband (either the veteran’s father or her husband through remarriage); or
  • She is widowed, divorced, or separated from the veteran's father and has not remarried; or
  • She remarried but is widowed, divorced, or legally separated from her husband when she claims preference.

The mother of a living disabled veteran if the veteran was separated with an honorable or general discharge from active duty, including training service in the Reserves or National Guard, performed at any time, and is permanently and totally disabled from a service-connected injury or illness; and the mother:

  • Is or was married to the father of the veteran; and
  • Lives with her totally and permanently disabled husband (either the veteran's father or her husband through remarriage); or
  • Is widowed, divorced, or separated from the veteran's father and has not remarried; or
  • Remarried but is widowed, divorced, or legally separated from her husband when she claims preference.

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10-point eligibility
Q. Can 10-point preference-eligible veterans apply outside hiring periods?
A. Applicants with a 10-point preference may apply outside hiring periods but must provide proof of entitlement to the preference claimed. If claiming a 10-point preference, the applicant must provide a DD Form 214 and Standard Form 15, along with documents supporting the preference. If you are not a 10-point preference-eligible vets must apply during a hiring period.

Q. What is the Standard Form (SF-15) application for 10-point veteran’s preference?
A. The SF-15 is used by federal agencies and OPM examining offices to adjudicate individuals’ claims for veteran’s preference in accordance with the Veterans’ Preference Act of 1994.

Q. Where can I find the SF-15 to submit as part of my application package?
A. The SF-15 is at OPM: http://www.fedshirevets.gov/pdf/SF15.pdf


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