What Is a Rural Carrier Associate?

Rural carrier associates fill in for regular rural mail carriers who need time off due to illness, emergency or vacation. RCAs deliver U.S. mail to suburban and rural homes and businesses. There is little supervision, as an RCA spends most of the day on his route, interacting with customers.

An RCA is responsible for sorting, receiving and loading the mail in his vehicle for distribution on an established route. The RCA picks up mail from homes, sells postal supplies and maintains security for the mail in his possession. At the end of the day, the RCA returns collected mail, paperwork and any money received to the post office.

Although an RCA has a lot of freedom, there is no guarantee of work from week-to-week. An RCA provides his own vehicle, for which the Postal Service compensates him on a mileage basis. An RCA must take a test before being hired, which gives him a fast track to a permanent rural carrier position. He may bid for a permanent position following 1 year of service as an associate.

An applicant for an RCA position must be at least 18 years old, or 16 if he has a high school diploma. The applicants must also submit to a drug screening, have a safe driving record and submit to a criminal background check.