Newspaper Carrier Job Description
Newspaper carriers are tasked with delivering newspapers to both stores and individual customers. They’re responsible for picking up and loading the day’s deliveries into a vehicle and ensuring that newspapers arrive at their destination on time. This position requires organization, the ability to plan and map efficient routes, and a willingness to start work very early in the day so that shops have newspapers to sell when they open. Newspaper carriers may also be responsible for collecting payment, picking up unsold stock, and maintaining detailed delivery and pickup records throughout their shifts.
Newspaper Carrier Duties and Responsibilities
The primary duty of a newspaper carrier is daily newspaper delivery to customers, which may include retailers, institutions, and individual customers. A newspaper carrier may also be tasked with stocking newspaper boxes for the day. These deliveries tend to occur early in the morning to ensure that retailers receive their daily allotment of newspapers for resale and individual customers receive their newspapers before leaving the house for work or school.
Assemble and Display Newspapers
In some cases, newspaper carriers assemble and bag newspapers prior to delivery. This requires an even earlier start, as newspapers may be delivered directly to a carrier’s home unassembled and need to be sorted and prepared for delivery. Additionally, newspaper carriers may be responsible for placing newspapers in retail displays at a customer’s location.
Load and Unload Vehicles
A newspaper carrier is also responsible for loading and unloading their vehicle at the distribution center. This may mean loading several bundles of newspapers at the start of the day and offloading unsold and returned inventory at the end of the shift. This aspect of the role requires the ability to lift somewhat heavy loads and pack the delivery vehicle so that newspapers are easily accessible at each stop on the delivery route.
While most newspaper carriers have set daily routes, they are ultimately responsible for planning their daily rounds and determining the most efficient way to distribute newspapers. Newspaper carriers review their routes and expected delivery time frames to determine the proper order of deliveries and anticipate potential delays. This requires extensive familiarity with the delivery area, as well as the ability to plan a route and make changes along the way to prevent delays.
Some newspaper carriers collect customer payment, particularly from retail store customers. While this may not be a requirement of newspaper carriers working for a larger corporation, many small-town newspapers and certain regions task their newspaper carriers with collecting and recording payments from delivery customers and sending checks to accounts receivable departments for processing.
Receiving Unsold Newspapers
In addition to delivering the day’s papers, a newspaper carrier is also responsible for collecting unsold papers from customers and returning them to the distribution center. This requires excellent record-keeping, since the newspaper carrier needs to note the number of newspapers initially delivered, collected, and returned, as well as any credit toward future orders that the newspaper or distributor allows based on returns.
Newspaper Carrier Skills and Qualifications
Newspaper carriers need a high level of organization and timeliness as well as the ability to lift heavy loads and successfully plan routes. Companies typically hire applicants with a high school diploma and the following skills:
- Driving – newspaper carriers will need a driver’s license and a reliable vehicle to successfully deliver newspapers across a wide geographic area
- Physical stamina – because they are responsible for loading and unloading bundles of newspapers, carriers should also be able to successfully lift and manage heavy loads
- Route planning and logistics – newspaper carriers should have some familiarity with their delivery area as well as the ability to plan an efficient delivery route
- Time management – this role requires a great deal of time management, both to arrive at the distributor on time and to successfully make deliveries according to set schedules and customer expectations
- Organization skills – newspaper carriers should also be highly organized and able to maintain detailed records of deliveries, pickups, and customer requests
- Communication skills – newspaper carriers should be outgoing, friendly, and effective communicators, able to converse with both customers and other personnel
Newspaper Carrier Education and Training
Most newspaper carriers have a high school diploma or GED as well as a driver’s license and a clean driving record. There is significant on-the-job training as a carrier gains familiarity with their assigned route and identifies opportunities to enhance delivery efficiency and drive customer satisfaction.
Newspaper Carrier Salary and Outlook
While the Bureau of Labor Statistics classifies newspaper carriers with delivery truck drivers, its estimates may not provide accurate salary expectations for this role. PayScale, however, estimates that the median annual wage of newspaper delivery drivers is $16,821. The lowest 10 percent earn roughly $10,524 per year, while the highest earners make up to $37,095 annually.
This wide pay range may be due to a variety of factors. Some newspaper carriers may earn more and be classified as employees, while many others are independent contractors and earn a per-route rate. As independent contractors, newspaper carriers need to factor in the costs of gas and maintenance, although these expenses can often be deducted from taxes each year.
We found a number of resources online for those who are interested in starting a career as a newspaper carrier:
United States Department of Labor: Newspaper Delivery – the Department of Labor provides articles, information on regulations, and fact sheets for newspaper carriers
Delivery Driver Red-Hot Career Guide – this guidebook provides common interview questions and other tips for job applicants looking to find a position as a delivery driver
“Tax Write-Offs for Newspaper Delivery” – this article examines common and lesser-known tax write-offs for newspaper carriers who work as independent contractors
Income Tax Guide for Rideshare and Contract Delivery Drivers: How to Prepare Your Tax Return When You Have Uber, Lyft, DoorDash, or other Contract Driving Income – writer John C. White, JD, provides tax tips and strategies for newspaper carriers working as independent contractors
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