With robotics playing an increasing role in logistics and operations, Amazon is cultivating the next generation of robotics leaders—starting with its own employees.
Launched in 2020, Amazon’s Reliability and Maintenance Engineering (RME) Mechatronics and Robotics Apprenticeship (MRA) is an intensive paid training program that focuses on a variety of technical skills and prepares participants for a role on Amazon’s RME team as an electromechanical technician. The apprenticeship is one of many paid upskilling programs designed for and by Amazon employees.
Though a burgeoning field, robotics remains inaccessible to many people.
“Amazon has done an amazing job in giving people opportunities that they might not have had otherwise,” said Francisco Nino, a graduate of the program and current Amazon technician.
After working as an Amazon warehouse picker, Nino felt ready to move his career upward and applied to the apprenticeship program after seeing an ad.
“Everyone thinks of robotics as the future—that’s where the industry’s going,” said Nino. “You want to come out on top before you’re left behind.”
Keep reading to learn more about what the program entails, how it helps Amazon employees grow their careers, and how to apply.
The program consists of a few components: 12 weeks of in-person classroom learning, 2,000 apprenticeship hours, and job placement. Once accepted, participants are placed in a cohort at one of five U.S. partner schools (located in Georgia, Indiana, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Texas) and paid to attend classes and lab training. Room and board are provided for free.
Following classroom learning, apprentices transition to an assigned warehouse to begin on-the-job learning under the mentorship of a skilled technician. There, they complete 40 benchmarks developed to demonstrate proficiency in a variety of technical skills.
After successfully completing 2,000 apprenticeship hours and the 40 benchmarks, the apprentice receives a certificate from the U.S. Department of Labor recognizing them as an Electromechanical Technician. Once certified, they are placed in a job working with Amazon robotics or a third-party partner (e.g., CBRE Group, Cushman & Wakefield, Elite Line Services, JLL, or LGSTX Services).
What types of skills are taught in the apprenticeship program?
Technical skills covered in the program include industrial electricity, mechanical components, fluid power, and programmable logic controllers. Apprentices receive a total of eight certifications across these skills.
Beyond hard skills, apprentices receive extensive mentoring, leadership, and networking opportunities throughout. Support groups like Women at RME help program participants to connect, share experiences and job opportunities, and more.
How does the pay structure work during the program?
Program participants are paid for their entire time as an apprentice, including during the classroom learning and on-the-job training. In fact, the program includes two pay increases. Participants can expect to see their wages increase by nearly 27% at the end of the first phase (classroom instruction) and another 40% after the second phase (on-the-job learning). On average, graduates of the program make up to an additional $26,500 per year when compared to the average starting salary for an entry-level fulfillment center role.
What happens after a participant completes the program?
Upon program completion, apprentices are placed in a permanent technician job on Amazon’s RME team or with one of our partners. Program graduates immediately put their learnings directly to use by repairing, troubleshooting, and supporting the machines that keep processes running smoothly.
“The whole experience has opened me up to new areas and different kinds of jobs at Amazon,” said Sam Carpenter-Camhi, a former apprentice who started his career working in one of Amazon’s fulfillment centers and is now an Amazon technician. “I’m in a leadership role now, which is higher paying and more skilled.”
To date, more than 1,000 participants have completed the program, graduating from both the classroom learning and on-the-job training, and passing the required industry certifications. As of 2023, the program currently maintains a 100% conversion rate into job placement after program completion and a retention rate of over 95% for Amazon employees placed through the program—meaning that of everyone placed at Amazon since the program began in 2020, 95% are still Amazon employees.
Who should apply to the program?
The RME Mechatronics and Robotics Apprenticeship program welcomes Amazon employees who are interested in exploring the world of robotics and its wide range of applications or looking to advance their skills into technical roles. No previous technical experience is required.
Ariel Rigsby, a member of the program’s pilot cohort, recounts meeting fellow apprentices on her first day, “There were people like me—some had never held a screwdriver before, while others had extensive experience building cars. And the range of ages was amazing.”
For more information about the program and application process, view current MRA openings or contact email@example.com.