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Rural Carrier Pay Chart: A Detailed Guide To Understanding Usps Pay For Rural Carriers

Are you interested in becoming a rural mail carrier for the United States Postal Service? One of the first things you’ll want to understand is how the rural carrier pay system works. 

If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer: Rural carriers are paid based on their route’s evaluated time and mileage, along with any additional services performed. The average rural carrier pay is around $55,000 per year.

Carriers are placed in one of 25 steps on the RCE, with each step representing a different level of pay. and increases with tenure. There are also career benefit options.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll walk you through everything you need to know about rural carrier pay, so you can determine if this career is right for you.

The United States Postal Service (USPS) Rural Carrier

The United States Postal Service (USPS) employs over 100,000 rural carriers, who are responsible for delivering mail to homes and businesses in rural areas.

Rural carriers are compensated according to a complex pay schedule that takes into account factors such as their experience, the number of hours they work, and the type of route they deliver.

Understanding the Rural Carrier Pay System

For those considering a career as a rural carrier with the United States Postal Service (USPS), understanding the pay system is essential. The rural carrier pay chart provides a detailed breakdown of how rural carriers are compensated for their services.

The Rural Carrier Evaluated Schedule (RCE)

The RCE is the pay schedule that determines the basic annual salary for rural carriers. The RCE is based on a combination of factors, including the length of the carrier’s route, the number of deliveries, and the amount of mail handled.

Carriers are placed in one of 25 steps on the RCE, with each step representing a different level of pay.

How Rural Carrier Routes are Evaluated

The evaluation of rural carrier routes is a crucial factor in determining pay. The USPS uses an evaluation process known as the Rural Carrier Evaluation (RCE) to assess the difficulty and time required to complete a particular route.

Factors such as the number of deliveries, miles traveled, and the level of difficulty in accessing certain locations are taken into consideration during the evaluation.

It is important to note that the RCE evaluation is conducted periodically to ensure that rural carriers are fairly compensated for the work they perform. As routes change and evolve, the evaluation process allows for adjustments to be made to reflect the current workload accurately.

Rural Carrier Routes

Pay Grade and Step Increases

Rural carriers are classified into pay grades, which determine their base pay rate. The pay grade is determined by factors such as years of service and level of responsibility.

As rural carriers gain experience and move up the pay scale, they can also receive step increases, which further enhance their earnings. These step increases are typically awarded based on the number of years of service.

For example, a rural carrier may receive a step increase after completing five years of service. This ensures that rural carriers are rewarded for their dedication and longevity in the profession.

Evaluated Time vs. Actual Time

The rural carrier pay system operates on the basis of evaluated time, which refers to the time it should take to complete a particular route based on the RCE evaluation. However, it is important to note that rural carriers often complete their routes in less time than the evaluated time.

This difference between evaluated time and actual time can be advantageous for rural carriers as they can complete their work more efficiently and potentially earn more pay. It is a testament to the hard work and dedication of rural carriers who strive to provide efficient and reliable postal services to rural communities.

Mileage Pay

In addition to their base pay, rural carriers are also eligible for mileage pay. This pay is calculated based on the number of miles traveled during their routes.

The USPS has specific guidelines and rates for mileage reimbursement, which are regularly updated to reflect changes in fuel costs and other factors affecting transportation expenses.

Rural carriers can keep track of their mileage using various methods, such as GPS devices or mileage logs. This helps ensure accurate reimbursement for the distance traveled while providing postal services.

Additional Paid Services

Aside from their regular duties, rural carriers may also have opportunities to earn additional pay through various services offered by the USPS. These services can include delivering packages for other shipping companies or providing additional services to customers, such as money orders or registered mail.

These additional paid services allow rural carriers to enhance their earnings and provide valuable assistance to both the USPS and the communities they serve.

Additional Paid Services

Rural Carrier Pay Rates

Current Hourly Wage Rates

The current hourly wage for rural carriers depends on the type of route and appointment status. Regular rural carriers appointed before August 7, 1986 earn an hourly rate based on the route evaluation level of their route. For most regular carriers appointed after this date, the hourly rate is determined by the carrier’s step in the rural carrier pay scale.

As of November 2023, rural carrier hourly pay rates range from $20 per hour at Step 1 to $25 per hour at Step 10. There are 10 steps in the rural carrier pay scale, with waiting periods of 52 weeks between steps 1-10.

Mileage Rates

In addition to an hourly wage, rural carriers also receive a mileage rate for operating their vehicles on routes. The standard mileage rate is designed to cover vehicle expenses like gas, maintenance, depreciation, and insurance.

Rural carriers are reimbursed for their vehicle expenses through an equipment maintenance allowance (EMA). The EMA is a fixed rate per mile that is set by the USPS and adjusted annually.

As of October 1, 2023, the EMA is 93.5 cents per mile. This rate changes periodically to account for fluctuations in transportation costs.

Overtime Pay

Rural carriers earn additional pay when they work more than 40 hours in a service week. Overtime pay rates are as follows:

  • 1.5 times the base hourly rate for hours over 40 in a week
  • 2 times the base hourly rate for hours over 56 in a week

Guaranteed time also counts toward overtime thresholds. Rural carriers are guaranteed at least 8 hours of pay on evaluation days and 4 hours on makeup days.

Sunday Premium Pay

For work performed on Sundays, rural carriers receive Sunday premium pay. The rates are:

  • 25% of the base hourly rate for up to 8 hours
  • 50% of the base hourly rate for over 8 hours

Sunday premium pay is in addition to overtime rates if applicable.

Holiday Pay

Rural carriers receive holiday pay for six national holidays:

  • New Year’s Day
  • Memorial Day
  • Independence Day
  • Labor Day
  • Thanksgiving Day
  • Christmas Day

The holiday pay rate is 200% of the carrier’s base hourly rate. Rural carriers do not get holiday leave and must work on holidays unless they request annual leave.

Holiday Pay

Salary and Benefits

When considering a career as a rural carrier for the United States Postal Service (USPS), it is essential to understand the salary and benefits that come with the job.

Rural carriers play a vital role in delivering mail and packages to residents in remote areas, and their compensation reflects the importance of their work.

Average Annual Salary

The average annual salary for rural carriers can vary depending on factors such as experience, location, and the number of hours worked.

According to the USPS pay chart, as of January 2022, the starting salary for a rural carrier associate is around $20 per hour. 

With experience and promotions, rural carriers can earn an annual salary of around $53,000. It is important to note that this figure can increase based on additional responsibilities and overtime opportunities.

Health Insurance

As federal employees, rural carriers are eligible for comprehensive health insurance coverage through the USPS. This includes medical, dental, and vision insurance options.

The USPS offers a range of plans to choose from, allowing rural carriers to find a plan that suits their needs and budget. The health insurance coverage extends to the carrier’s spouse and dependents, providing peace of mind for their entire family.

Retirement Benefits

Rural carriers also enjoy retirement benefits through the USPS. They are eligible to participate in the Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS), which includes a defined benefit pension plan, Thrift Savings Plan (TSP) with employer matching, and Social Security benefits.

These retirement benefits provide financial security for rural carriers in their post-employment years.

Paid Leave

USPS provides rural carriers with paid leave options, including annual leave, sick leave, and holidays. Rural carriers accrue annual leave based on their length of service, allowing them to take time off for personal reasons or vacations.

Sick leave is also provided to ensure carriers can take time off when they are ill without worrying about their income. Additionally, USPS recognizes holidays and provides paid leave for rural carriers to enjoy time with their loved ones.


Becoming a rural mail carrier can provide stable postal service career with decent pay and benefits.

While compensation is based on route evaluation, most rural carriers earn $40,000 – $60,000 per year.

Understanding the rural carrier pay system is key to determining if this USPS job aligns with your career goals.

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