How do I Become a Courier?

Carol Francois

If you are looking for your first job, you might want to become a courier, which is someone who delivers and picks up packages. There are two types of courier companies: local and national. A local courier company provides same-day delivery, typically within a specific city or district. National couriers provide service to other parts of the country and even international destinations.

A courier delivers and picks up packages.
A courier delivers and picks up packages.

There is no post-secondary education requirement to become a courier. A valid drivers license, the ability to work extended hours and interpersonal skills are all that is required. In some companies, there is a specific weight that couriers need to be able to pick up and carry a short distance. Most courier companies will require a driver's abstract or driving record as part of the application process. This document lists all traffic tickets and any charges related to driving offenses, including driving under the influence.

Some couriers specialize in transporting large parcels.
Some couriers specialize in transporting large parcels.

The next step for anyone who wants to become a courier is to identify companies that are hiring, the shifts available and any specific restrictions. Complete an application form for the larger courier companies in your area, such as UPS&Reg;, or DHL&Reg;. Contact smaller courier companies that provide same-day service only if you have a reliable vehicle, because this often is a requirement for a position as a courier.

Couriers need to be in shape because they lift heavy packages and boxes.
Couriers need to be in shape because they lift heavy packages and boxes.

Map-reading skills, a familiarity with the local area and a good understanding of traffic patterns are all helpful when working as a courier for a same day delivery service. Couriers in this type of company are paid a certain amount for each item delivered within the time period. The faster the package is delivered, the more jobs that can be completed in the same day.

Anyone who decides to become a courier for a large company typically must be able to start work early in the morning. Punctuality, professionalism and driving skills are all very important in this position. This type of courier company pays on an hourly basis, but productivity is tracked through computerized tools that record package delivery and pick-up times. Employees who are slow or receive traffic tickets will be dismissed.

Advancement opportunities for a courier include shipping and receiving positions or working as a delivery coordinator or logistics officer. Many people develop business relationships with repeat customers and often find a better-paying position in the shipping department of a former client. Take the time to provide excellent customer service and develop a reputation for functionality and professionalism.

A valid driver's license is required to become a courier.
A valid driver's license is required to become a courier.

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Discussion Comments


@MissMuffet - Sorry, but I'm going to give you some bad news. There used to be some opportunities in this field, but these days airline security requirements have changed everything.

Not that it was ever super easy in the past of course. Becoming a courier of international deliveries required you to be free at short notice, look smart, and be able to travel with only a carry on bag. (Remember you may be then left to amuse yourself for a few days or a week, with limited clothes!)

The idea was that your luggage allowance was taken by the items you were technically escoring to the destination. This often wasn't a very glamorous location, not all courier packages are sent to Paris or New York!

My company used to employ international couriers, but these days someone from the office gets this duty. It's a pity as this takes us away from base, and our busy workloads. I hope one day in the future these jobs will be opened up to travellers again.


A friend of mine claims that you can get paid to deliver documents and small packages internationally. Does anyone have any information on how to become a courier doing this kind of job?

I will admit that the thought of free flights to exotic places is very appealing. There must be some kind of restriction or catch to it though, it can't be as simple as it sounds!


@CaithnessCC - I was a bike courier for a while and I agree it can be a lucrative position. The trouble with it in my opinion is you can't control the behavior of other road users.

I can't count the number of times people opened car doors in my path, cut me off at junctions and so on. Twice I needed medical treatment after incidents which were not my fault!

If you have a bike and want to become a freelance courier make sure you get a decent insurance policy. Plus bear in mind that you're in a kind of disposable position. If you fail to deliver the goods then no reason or excuse in the world is good enough for some courier companies!

Personally I would only consider this kind of job again if I had a scooter or motor bike. At least you have a bit of speed behind you.


Having done this job for a while in the past I can say that Wisegeek's information is really useful for anyone who wants to become a courier.

I want to add though that buying and maintaining a vehicle can be a major expense. If you don't have the cash to commit to that you should look at bike courier work.

There are many companies who need reliable people who own a motor or high speed push bike. In some ways this can be an advantage, as you can get through traffic easier and make more deliveries.

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