Prepare to reset your expectations about what an entry level job at Amazon can make possible.
A man in a dark T-shirt is photographed from the shoulders up. He is standing outdoors. Foliage is in the foreground and background.By participating in the A2Tech program, Andre Grass switched from a job readying Amazon customer orders for shipping to his current role as an IT technician.Photo by JORDAN STEAD
A2Tech — associate to technician — is a program that launched in 2016 and is designed to give fulfillment center associates a way to move into a more highly skilled career by providing the training and industry certification needed to make it happen.
“It's a 90-day program, and it’s great because you don’t have to have any IT experience,” said Mary Yosmali, an IT manager for Amazon’s Phoenix fulfillment centers. “They'll shadow another technician. They'll gain hands-on experience in IT as a support technician. And during that time they'll have about eight hours a week to do online courses while at work.” And Amazon pays for all of the training.
At the end of that time, Amazon also funds the employee’s certification tests.
“Before I started working at Amazon, I didn’t know what I wanted to do,” said Andre Grass, 25, who dropped out of high school as a teenager in order to help support his family. He eventually joined Amazon as a packer, readying customer orders for shipping. After a few months on the job, he heard about the A2Tech program and followed his interest in technology to learn more about the possibilities to which it could lead.
Grass said he knew the A2Tech program could offer the perfect opportunity to build his skill set in technology and give him a chance to learn more about the technologies that power Amazon.
Today, Grass is working in his new career as an IT technician at an Amazon fulfillment center in Phoenix. Grass helps keep the myriad computers, scanners, and other intricate pieces of technology working smoothly. When an associate on the floor has an issue, he helps fix it.
“It was probably one of the biggest deals that happened in my life, knowing that Amazon would put even more effort into developing me. I just needed somebody to give me a chance,” said Grass.
Grass said his young son motivates him to build his career. “I want him to look back and be proud of what I’ve done."
A2Tech is far from the only opportunity of its kind within Amazon’s fulfillment network. Another program available to full-time associates is called Career Choice. Amazon pre-pays up to 95% of tuition and fees towards a certificate or associates degree in fields ranging from IT and computer science to healthcare and transportation. The idea is to put people on a path towards well-paying, in-demand professions.