The Essential Guide to Becoming a Courier or Messenger

The Essential Guide to Becoming a Courier or Messenger

Couriers and messengers are important players in today’s economy, tasked with making sure packages and other valuables arrive safely and on time. They work for a variety of companies ranging from small businesses to large corporations.

What Do Couriers and Messengers Do?

The primary responsibility of a courier or messenger is to deliver packages, documents, and other important items to their intended destination. They may be responsible for picking up packages from clients, packing them securely, and transporting them on foot, bicycle, public transport, or their vehicle of choice. It is also their responsibility to ensure that items arrive on time, in good condition, and that payment is collected from clients. They may also need to handle customer inquiries and manage their own schedules while using electronic systems to keep track of packages.

Types of Courier and Messenger Jobs

There are several types of jobs in the courier and messenger industry. Independent contractors work for themselves, while local couriers typically work in a specific area of a city or region. National couriers deliver packages across the United States, and package handlers work for large shipping companies like FedEx and UPS.

Education and Training for Couriers and Messengers

Most courier and messenger jobs do not require formal education beyond a high school diploma or equivalent. However, depending on the job, you may need a valid driver’s license and a clean driving record or physical fitness and stamina. Some specialized jobs, such as medical courier, require specific training or certifications.

Progressing Between Levels in the Courier and Messenger Industry

While many jobs in this industry are entry-level, there are opportunities for advancement. Couriers and messengers may progress to supervisory or management roles within a company or start their own courier or messenger business. Strong organizational and communication skills and a track record of delivering packages on time and in good condition may be necessary to progress to higher-level roles.

Getting Started in the Courier and Messenger Industry

To start a career as a courier or messenger, start by researching the different types of jobs and choose the one that fits your interests and skills. Develop communication and organizational skills, consider getting additional certifications, and build a professional network.

Couriers and Messengers Job Level and Salary Data

A courier or messenger delivers packages from one location to another and may work in various industries such as retail, healthcare, and logistics. Salaries vary depending on factors like experience, location, and employment status.

Salary Data

The following salary data applies to couriers and messengers in the United States:

Occupation Job Level Annual Median Salary (Nonunion) Annual Median Salary (Union)
Couriers and messengers All levels $32,011.20 $35,235.20
Couriers and messengers Level 03 N/A $36,961.60
Couriers and messengers Full-time (All levels) $34,320.00 $38,563.20
Couriers and messengers Full-time (Level 03) N/A $38,376.00
Couriers and messengers Part-time (All levels) $24,544.00 $28,225.60
Couriers and messengers Time-based pay (All levels) $32,926.40 $36,192.00

Union and Job

Joining a union may be beneficial in terms of better wages, benefits, and working conditions. Unions negotiate these aspects of the job for their members and provide a collective voice for concerns or suggestions.


The average salary for couriers and messengers vary depending on the job’s location. For instance, the best-paid couriers and messengers are likely to work in the San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward area, earning an annual median salary of around $55,880. In contrast, those working in Sieska, Montana, will earn less, with an average salary of $21,330 per year.


Couriers and messengers form an essential part of the economy, responsible for delivering items such as packages or documents from one location to another. Various jobs exist within the industry, with some couriers working for specific companies or areas and others serving a wider range of clients. Much of the work does not rely on formal education or training beyond a high school diploma, with more specialized positions requiring certifications and training. Advancement opportunities exist within the industry, particularly for those with excellent communication skills and a history of delivering items on time and in excellent condition. Couriers and messengers may work as independent contractors or for specific organizations and industries, and their salaries may vary based on several factors, such as unions, the job level, and location.