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Courier Duties and Responsibilities

The duties assigned to couriers vary from place to place, but there are some duties that are widespread throughout the profession. Couriers are expected to carry out the following tasks regularly:

Load and Unload Cargo Couriers are typically responsible for loading and unloading cargo on their own. This means they should have knowledge of safe lifting techniques. Couriers may work in pairs when delivering particularly heavy or bulky items.

Deliver Packages The ultimate goal of a courier is to deliver packages to a specified destination within a certain time frame. These packages must arrive undamaged and in the condition they were loaded in. If there is a problem with a package, the courier relays the details to their employer and works to resolve the issue in a professional manner.

Accept Payments Couriers often accept payment for packages or delivery fees upon arrival. They do this using a mobile credit card processor, and it is their job to keep track of any payments made for packages. Payment records are usually kept in an electronic database.

Drive Delivery Vehicles Couriers use company vehicles to deliver packages to their specified locations. For this reason, they must have the proper commercial driver’s license (CDL) and any other necessary driving certifications. Drivers who do not operate large trucks or vehicles may not need to have a CDL.

Report Safety Incidents Couriers may be responsible for performing basic maintenance on their company vehicles, and if there is a potential mechanical problem, they report it to the appropriate department. They should also report any traffic accidents or safety violations to their employer.


Courier Skills and Qualifications

The skills needed to become a courier depend on a variety of factors; however, prospective couriers do not need a college degree to enter the field. Most delivery companies seek couriers with a CDL as well as the following abilities and traits:
  • Safe driving skills - even if someone has a CDL, there is no guarantee they are a safe driver. Employable couriers should have a clean driving record with no major violations, and they should be knowledgeable about traffic laws
  • Driving experience - some delivery companies require couriers to have at least one to two years of commercial driving experience before they are allowed to deliver items. In addition to obtaining a CDL, couriers may also need to meet company driving standards
  • Punctuality - couriers must stick to a strict schedule when delivering packages. This allows couriers to keep customers satisfied and free of worry. Individuals who have difficulty paying attention to time may want to choose another profession
  • Customer service - if there is a problem with a package or the delivery process, the courier should be able to help the customer resolve the problem in a professional and prompt manner

Courier Education and Training

To become a courier, a candidate should have a CDL (if it is required) as well as a high school diploma or GED. Some organizations may not even require a diploma or GED, especially if a candidate has commercial driving experience. A significant amount of on-the-job training is usually required for couriers, and it is common for more experienced couriers to supervise new hires until they achieve a certain level of proficiency. During the training period, a courier may be evaluated based on their timeliness and other criteria set forth by the company.

Courier Salary and Outlook

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the annual median salary for a courier is $24,040. Couriers in the top 10th percentile earn more than $48,730 annually, while those in the bottom 10th percentile earn less than $17,660 annually. Couriers employed by reputable companies often receive paid time off, health insurance, sick leave, and performance-based bonuses. The employment rate for individuals working in this industry is expected to grow 4 percent through 2026. This rate is noticeably lower than the national rate of 7 percent for all professions. This lack of growth is attributed to the rise in independent delivery drivers, who often deliver packages at a lower cost.

Helpful Resources

Want to learn more about becoming a courier? Take a look at the resources below:

Association for Delivery Drivers - established for professional couriers and drivers, the ADD acts as an advocate and educational resource for anyone interested in the professional delivery industry. Its website contains information about insurance, driver training and safety, and member discounts for various services

Parcel and Small Package Delivery Industry - anyone who wants to know more about the delivery industry should pick up this interesting read. Written for transportation and delivery professionals, William T. Dennis' book will appeal to a wide variety of individuals. Topics covered include choosing a carrier, damage and loss claims, packaging materials, and vendor compliance

How to Be a UPS Driver - written by Damien Albino, this book shows readers how to become a courier and earn up to $100,000 a year. The book shows readers how to get started with a reputable courier service and what to expect from the first 30 days of employment. With strong customer reviews, the book is written with both novices and career veterans in mind

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