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How to Become a Postal Inspector

United States postal inspectors are federal agents working in law enforcement to investigate crimes against the United States Postal Service. Here's what you need to know to become a postal inspector. (Note that an inspector is a different job than a postal police officer, whose responsibility it is to protect post offices and facilities, their employees and their vehicles.)

  • Eligibility Postal inspectors must be American citizens between 21 and 36.5 years old. Candidates may not have a criminal record, and must have a valid driver's license [source: United States Postal Inspection Service].
  • Responsibilities A postal inspector's responsibilities include carrying a weapon, arresting suspects, executing search warrants, and pursuing and restraining suspects [source: United States Postal Inspection Service].
  • Ability to coordinate with other agencies The Postal Inspection Service often works closely with other government agencies. For example, inspectors may work with other law enforcement agencies when pursuing those who perpetrate mail fraud [source: United States Department of Justice].
  • Additional skills, also called special knowledge, can boost your chances at being hired as a postal inspector. These include foreign language skills, postal experience and specialized non-postal experience (e.g. military service, law degree, computer expertise, bioterrorism investigation experience, etc.).

Are you interested? Then here's how to become a United States postal inspector.

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  1. Earn a bachelor's degree. Postal inspector applicants must have at least a bachelor's degree [source: United States Postal Inspection Service].
  2. Check the United States Postal Inspection Service website, and see if there are any positions available. If there are, fill out an online application.
  3. Take an entrance examination. If your application is accepted you'll be invited to take this exam. If you satisfactorily complete that, you will need to pass a second exam, followed by a business writing test, a language exam (if you have specialized language skills) as well as a polygraph test and finally a management interview.
  4. If all those steps go well, you'll land in the selection pool as a viable applicant for two years.
  5. If you're selected, you will attend the basic inspector training program for 16 weeks. [source: United States Postal Inspection Service]

Upon completing your training you'll be a postal inspector.

Good luck!

Originally Published: Apr 6, 2011

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