A courier or messenger delivers paperwork and packages for hospitals, law firms, schools, businesses or government agencies. As a courier, you must check delivery information, pick up and drop off packages, select the best routes and keep records. You also must deal with clients in person to get signatures and collect payment. If you have the necessary skills and personal qualities, a high school diploma plus on-the-job training are usually sufficient to work as a courier.
If you want to work as a courier, you need to be an accurate bookkeeper to keep records in proper order. You need strong time-management skills to make deliveries on time and a good sense of direction and knowledge of your territory. You must be able to work without supervision and maintain patience under adverse driving conditions. Good interpersonal skills will help you deal with clients effectively and represent your employer to the public.
Some employers require their messengers and couriers to have a high school diploma or the equivalent. If you have completed high school, it is an asset in finding a messenger job. No specific academic classes are necessary, and a diploma is not always necessary.
Messengers working in an urban area sometimes make deliveries by bicycle. However, you need a current state driver’s license and a clean driving record for most courier or messenger jobs. Depending on the type of parcel, you may need to be able to drive a van or truck. Messengers often are required to provide a vehicle or bicycle for deliveries. However, when the item requires a special vehicle, the employer usually provides it.
Most messengers and couriers learn on the job by partnering with an experienced worker for one week or longer. During training, you’ll help load and unload deliveries and take care of paperwork. Companies that deliver human organs or other special deliveries provide more specialized training in methods of handling these delicate materials.
The average courier or messenger earned $12.79 per hour in 2011, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. This comes to $26,600 per year for a 40-hour workweek. Wages range from $8.39 per hour at the 10th percentile to $18.36 per hour at the 90th percentile. As of 2010, about 25 percent of couriers were self-employed, and nearly one-fourth were unionized. Most work full time, often including weekend or evening work.
The BLS predicts that jobs for messengers and couriers will increase by 12 percent between 2010 and 2020. Documents that used to require couriers can now travel electronically, but the aging of the population will increase the need for medical deliveries. Couriers with good interpersonal skills and the ability to deliver medical specimens will have the most job opportunities.
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