What Is Shadow Day at USPS?

Smartphone With The Usps Logo

The United States Postal Service has started a training program with several phases, in which all newly hired mail carriers at USPS have to go through each phase to understand their duties.

One part of these phases is a Shadow Day; what happens on this day?


Shadow Day is a part of standard training at USPS, during which you tag along with the mail carrier on his eight-hour shift and familiarize yourself with the responsibilities of a mail carrier.

You are just supposed to sit and observe without performing any duties during this period.

Read on to find out what goes on during the standard training at USPS and its Shadow Day.

Standard Training at USPS

Postman On A Mail Delivery Truck

The United States Postal Service has started a Standard Training Program for City Letter Carriers where all the mail carriers take part and get the necessary training required to adjust to mail handling at USPS.

The city carrier academies have been established in all USPS districts and provide training to upcoming mail carriers.

Phases of Standard Training

This training program consists of five phases with a hands-on experience designed to provide new mail carriers with the necessary skills to carry out their job efficiently.

These five phases include:

  • Orientation
  • Driver Training
  • Shadow Day
  • Standard Training
  • On-the-job Training

Shadow Day

Photo From United States Postal Service

Today we’ll highlight one phase of the USPS standard training, “Shadow Day.” This is a newly induced phase in this training that requires the participants to take part in an eight-hour activity at their designated duty station prior to starting the academy.


The newly hired carriers will observe the duties of the city mail carriers for an eight-hour shift to understand and get familiar with the duties of mail carriers.

As a newly hired mail carrier at USPS, you won’t have to handle and deliver the mail.

A rule in the Standard Training for City Letter Carriers Administrator Guide states: “Newly hired carriers are only to observe the full range of carrier duties and are not to deliver mail or drive Postal vehicles. A jump seat should be provided for the ride-along portion.”

On their shadow day, the newly hired mail carriers tag along with their assigned trainers and get familiar with the working environment of USPS mail delivery.

They have a jump seat assigned to them in the delivery van, and they follow the assigned trainer everywhere during his eight-hour shift. This helps them determine if this job is the right fit for them.

It is your chance to learn about the job, and you may ask as many questions as possible. This can help you understand the job better and help you progress. It might be a good idea to keep a small diary and note down everything so you can get help from it in the future.


Usps Mail Truck And Postal Carrier

The USPS has developed a smart approach to training its mail handlers. They have to go through a five-phase training program that enables them to be fully prepared for the job. During this training period, all trainees have to attend a Shadow Day.

On Shadow Day, a trainee is supposed to tag along with his assigned instructor and observe the daily tasks of handling the mail carrier by following the instructor everywhere on his eight-hour shift.

It’s important to note that you are only supposed to observe the tasks without performing any duties as a trainee.

Frequently Asked Questions

Does Shadow Day Include a Break?

Yes, on Shadow Day, you have to follow your instructor on his eight-hour shift. As for your instructor, he is a full-time USPS mail handler who is entitled to two paid breaks of ten minutes each during his eight-hour shift. If your instructor takes a break, it means you should also take one.

What Should I Bring On My Shadow Day?

It might be a good idea to keep a pen and a diary to take notes of routine tasks you observe during your Shadow Day. You could also keep your lunch to munch on during your breaks. Finally, a bottle of drinking water for eight hours is also recommended.

It’s also important to consider the attire for your Shadow Day; you should dress according to the situation of the weather outside.

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