UPS Package Handler: [A Comprehensive Guide]

UPS Package Handler: [A Comprehensive Guide]
Last updated at December 6, 2021

Between 2018 and 2020, the number of workers in the courier and messenger industry went from 690,000 to 850,000, per BLS data. And according to a report by Quartz, a courier is the fastest-growing job in the United States. And of all the roles in this industry, the UPS package handler is one of the highest in demand.

After the pandemic, the number of employees in the industry soared to over 1.06 million. Since companies aren’t hesitating to hire, there couldn’t be a better time to consider a career with UPS. 

In just the past year, between February and December, the number of messengers and couriers has risen by 26%. In those ten months, there was a 7.6% increase in job growth in the warehousing and storage industry as well. 

The bottom line is, the demand for good workers in the industry is high and can be expected to remain high for the foreseeable future.

Becoming a UPS package handler is an excellent way to establish a stable career and enjoy excellent benefits in the long run.

But what are the qualification requirements for the role? Do you need prior experience? 

More importantly, how much can you expect to get paid in the role?

This comprehensive career guide covers everything you need to know about becoming a UPS package handler.

What is a UPS Package Handler?

A UPS package handler plays a critical role in a company’s package delivery service. These professionals must sort and group packages according to the destination and then load them into the appropriate delivery vehicle. 

In addition to keeping the packages secure, they are also responsible for handling them with care. 

What Does a UPS Package Handler Do?

There are several duties that a UPS package handler is responsible for. As a UPS package handler, you will load and unload delivery trucks as they arrive. It is also your responsibility to prepare the truck for departure from the processing center.

To do this, you will need to sort packages into groups according to the destination they need to go to. While completing your day’s work, you will need to follow the company’s standards and policies. These require handling packages with care and placing them safely in the right trucks.

You may also be required to use large machines to help load and unload larger packages.

To succeed in the role, you will need to demonstrate to your supervisors that you can be systematic and speed up package processing at the facility. You will get more shifts and opportunities to move up the ladder if you help the company meet delivery goals and maintain high customer satisfaction.

Duties and Responsibilities of a UPS Package Handler

Here’s a list of tasks you can expect to do on your shift as a UPS package handler:

  • Lift packages up to 70lbs using “hand-to-surface” methods
  • Read packages, scan labels, and apply labels to packaging to ensure proper sorting
  • Move packages to the facility’s delivery area
  • Put packages on conveyor belts, pallets, or trucks as required
  • Adhere to the company’s policies strictly by ensuring safety and security during package handling
  • Keep the working area clean
  • Determine if there are errors in the package information
  • Determine any defects and discrepancies when working with packages
  • Work alongside other personnel to ensure the high efficiency of the warehouse

Required Skills

Working as a UPS package handler is not easy, and it helps if you’re comfortable working in a constantly changing environment. You don’t have to have a degree, but you will need a high school diploma or GED at minimum to get hired.

But what’s more important is that you have organization and communication skills. You must have good listening skills and excellent hand-eye coordination. 

You must believe in teamwork since that’s the only way to ensure you meet the company’s delivery requirements and maintain the standards. 

In essence, you need to be detail-oriented and flexible. Furthermore, you must be ready to work long hours and carry heavy loads. You will need to lift packages up to 70 lbs without other workers’ assistance. Speed is critical for this role. You must work fast to keep pace with the rest of the workers.

Walking regularly and making repetitive movements is a part of the job, and you can expect to be sore after your shifts.

You should also have no problems operating mechanical machinery daily for loading and unloading trucks. 

UPS Package Handler Job Requirements

To work as a UPS package handler, you must be:

  • Able to lift and carry packages up to 70lbs
  • Prepared to work in a fast-paced work environment
  • Organized and detail-oriented 
  • Flexible when it comes to your schedule
  • Able to work long hours
  • Hard-working and ready to work with a team

It’s important to note that those with prior experience handling materials are preferred over those without experience.

Where Do UPS Package Handlers Work?

UPS package handlers work at a processing center where all packages are sorted and put in trucks for delivery at their respective destinations.

You can expect to work five days a week, typically from Monday to Friday. Your shifts will be different. Some days, you may need to clock in early in the morning. On other days, you will need to come in late in the evening.

You need to note that the shift timings change almost every day. This cannot be helped since the nature of the business requires this constantly changing work environment. 

Depending on how reliable your supervisors find you and how available you are for work, you will work anywhere from 20 and 40 hours every week. 

Peak business periods — think the end of year holidays — may require you to work overtime. Besides Christmas and Thanksgiving, you may also be asked to work overtime on holidays such as President’s Day.

UPS Package Handler Salary

According to, UPS package handlers make an average of $16.64 per hour, about 10% over the national average salary. A couple of years ago, the average pay was between $11 and $12, but the recent increase in demand has pushed salaries higher.

Working out the numbers, if you get paid this average salary, you will make $34,600 a year.

In addition to getting paid a salary, you may be eligible for productivity bonuses during peak business times, such as at the end-of-year holiday season. 

Further, you will also get benefits. Paid time off and health insurance are typically offered to everybody working at UPS. You can also get a 401K and save for retirement. 

If you’re pursuing a degree, you may be eligible for tuition reimbursement. This will help you get a career in the field of your liking without bearing all of the costs. But you must bear in mind that this compensation is only offered for students pursuing specific kinds of degrees.

Career Outlook

According to, the number of package handler jobs at UPS is projected to grow by 4% by 2028. However, recent news reports reveal that UPS is excepting to deliver over five million packages every day in the peak season of 2021.

After the pandemic increased the demand for delivery, the high demand for reliable package handlers can be expected to increase in the coming years.

Five Things to Consider Before Becoming a UPS Package Handler

If you’re considering becoming a UPS package handler, there are five essential things for you to consider:

#1 It’s Hard Work

You will be working for eight to nine hours, non-stop, checking labels and moving heavy packages. You will have to walk a lot and strain yourself — it’s part of the job.

#2 You Will Get Good Benefits

While you will need to put in a lot of work, the benefits you get will be rewarding. UPS takes care of its employees, and you will be a part of a strong union and get a solid retirement plan. You will also get health insurance and paid time off for vacation. 

But you will need to work with them for an extended period to be eligible for these benefits.

#3 Mutual Support Will Be Strong

In general, people in all roles at UPS will be supportive, and you won’t have trouble getting along with anybody. Of course, there may be some employees that keep to themselves. That said, you can expect the team to work together well.

#4 Many Opportunities To Grow

After working at UPS for a while, you can request to get a different role. It is also relatively easy for you to move up to a supervisor’s role or become a well-paid driver. There is a multitude of other roles you can get. 

Staying consistent and keeping up the pace will ensure you make a good living in the short and the long term.

#5 Pay is Basic If You Work Part-Time

It will be challenging to earn a living with a part-time role at UPS. It will only pay you a few hundred dollars a week. If you work part-time, there’s a good chance you will need to get a second job to support yourself.

But you can work part-time with UPS and get a full-time job elsewhere till you can move to another better paying role or begin working full-time.

How Do I Become a UPS Package Handler?

Becoming a UPS package handler is easy. Follow these three steps:

Step #1: Complete Secondary Education

You don’t need much education to become a package handler for UPS. You qualify for the role if you have a high school diploma or a GED.

A lot of package handlers have a high school diploma or equivalent. About 10% of handlers have a bachelor’s degree, and there are much fewer people with a master’s degree.

Step #2: Gain Experience

Experience in other jobs can make it easier for you to get hired as a UPS package handler. In some locations, UPS requires applicants to have experience as a cashier before getting an interview. 

Many UPS package handlers have experience as crew members and sales associates. While previous experience isn’t a requirement in many facilities, it will help you get hired, so make sure you mention all the work you’ve done previously on your resume.

Step #3: Look for an Opening

You can visit the UPS site and check the Careers section to get hired. You will need to create an account before applying for a job. After you fill out a hiring form, an HR rep will contact you if you are eligible for the job. You will get a tour of the facility and meet the managers for an interview.

After the interview, you will find out if you will be hired. If you’re getting hired, you will be invited to an orientation, which can take up to five hours. You will learn about UPS and learn the right technique to lift packages. Instructional videos will also teach you the procedures you need to follow.

It’s important to note that you will be paid for getting trained. You must remember to notify your supervisor about your working hours before you begin work.

While the hiring and training process is typically complete in a week, every facility is different, and it can take longer. After you get accepted and complete training, you may need to wait for the background checks to be completed. Background checks are only done if the candidate is hired.

Regardless, you will need to be patient. It will take a few days before you start working. As long as your application is green on the site, you’ve been hired, and it is likely that they’re completing your background check. This can take from four days to two weeks to clear. When the check is clear, you will start working for UPS soon.

To find out if you’ve been hired, you will need to see if you’re invited to complete the second part of the application. This second part is where the company runs a background check, and when it’s done, you’ll be called for the orientation.

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Getting a Driver Position After Becoming a UPS Package Handler

There are many positions you can advance to after gaining experience as a package handler. But the driver’s position is the most desirable because of the high salary offered.

There are many ways you can become a driver for UPS. You can become a driver during the holiday season or work your way up to the position.

Typically, taking up the package handler position is the first step to getting the driver position. After you get hired as a package handler:

  • Try to get the “qualified as a driver” title. This takes a month of hard work, which will exhaust you. It’s also important to note that only 30% of employees qualify to do this.
  • If you qualify, you’ll officially be a UPS driver. But you need to take it slow before you decide to become a regular. Initially, you will wait a lot for jobs, but you will drive one or two days every other week.
  • Senior drivers in the company will always have the edge over you and take up most of the work. That said, you should sign as many bid lists as you can. This will get you the maximum driving hours possible.
  • Over time, you will build seniority and work towards the Regular Package Car Driver position. The RPCD position will give you your own bid route, and then you can decide how many hours you want to drive.
  • After you get this position, aim for the UPS Feeder position. You can get this position after a year of driving for the company. In terms of hourly pay, the UPS Feeder position is the best in the company.

One invaluable tip is that you must try to get seasonal driving jobs in the peak season so you can get started. Not only will you learn, but it will also set you up for a permanent driving position in the future.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do UPS package handlers need to wear uniforms?

UPS package handlers need to wear boots to work, but that’s the only requirement. You are allowed to wear shorts, jeans, tank tops, hats, or anything else you like. But you must make sure that you take some water to work and wear layers in the winter since most facilities don’t have heating.

Can I get a job as a UPS package handler if I have tattoos or piercings?

While most facilities don’t have a problem with tattoos and piercings, some facilities do. 

How long do I need to work as a package handler before getting benefits?

A part-time employee at UPS has the same eligibility rules for benefits as full-time employees. However, you will need to work 225 hours instead of 400 hours in the three-month eligibility determination period before you can get benefits.

Conclusion: Should You Become A UPS Package Handler

If you like to stay active throughout your workday, becoming a UPS package handler may be the right job for you. Facilities are doing business non-stop, and the schedule shifts constantly. So, if you’re the kind that thrives in a busy work environment, the role of a UPS package handler is an excellent fit for you.

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