Amazon expanded the education and skills training benefits it offers to its U.S. employees with a total investment of $1.2 billion by 2025. Through its popular Career Choice program, the company now funds full college tuition, as well as high school diplomas, GEDs, and English as a Second Language (ESL) proficiency certifications for its front-line employees—including those who have been at the company for as little as three months. Amazon also offers three education programs to provide employees with the opportunity to learn skills within data center maintenance and technology, IT, and user experience and research design.
“Amazon is now the largest job creator in the U.S., and we know that investing in free skills training for our teams can have a huge impact for hundreds of thousands of families across the country,” said Dave Clark, former CEO of Worldwide Consumer at Amazon. "We launched Career Choice 10 years ago to help remove the biggest barriers to continuing education—time and money—and we are now expanding it even further to pay full tuition and add several new fields of study.
"This investment builds on years of experience supporting employees in growing their careers, including some unique initiatives like building more than 145 on-site classrooms for our employees in Amazon fulfillment centers across more than 35 states. Today, over 80,000 Amazon employees around the world have already participated in Career Choice and we’ve seen first-hand how it can transform their lives."
Amazon front-line employees now have access to even more education benefits through Career Choice:
- Funding for college tuition. More than 750,000 operations employees across the U.S. are eligible to have their full college tuition paid for at hundreds of education partners across the country. In addition to funding associate and bachelor’s degrees, Amazon’s Career Choice will also fund high school completion, GEDs, and ESL proficiency certifications.
- Pre-paid fees. Amazon pays employees’ tuition and fees in advance rather than offering reimbursement after coursework completion, ensuring employees don’t need existing funds to start accessing the education options they want.
- Limitless learning. Amazon front-line employees have access to annual funds for education as long as they remain at the company, with no limit to the number of years they can benefit.
- Fast starts. All 750,000 U.S. hourly employees are eligible to participate in Career Choice 90 days after starting at Amazon. This makes all 400,000 employees who joined the company since the start of the pandemic eligible to access Amazon-funded education opportunities.
"I worked in a warehouse setting for years but knew I wanted to help people and had been curious about healthcare. In just nine months, I became a certified clinical medical assistant while working at Amazon in Tracy, California, thanks to Career Choice," said former Amazon operations employee and Career Choice graduate Patricia Soto. "A career in healthcare would have been difficult to obtain without tuition support from Amazon and an internship opportunity to apply my new skills."
Additional new skills training programs
In addition to the expanded Career Choice benefits, Amazon also launched three upskilling programs—all tuition-free for participants—to provide even more career advancement opportunities for its employees:
AWS Grow Our Own Talent
AWS Grow Our Own Talent offers on-the-job training and job placement opportunities to Amazon employees and entry-level candidates with nontraditional backgrounds. The training helps them pursue roles to innovate within Amazon Web Services (AWS) data centers and safely deliver high-quality cloud computing services to customers. Participating employees are hired into roles like data center technicians and operations technicians, and complete in-person, on-the-job training for up to six months.
Surge2IT is designed to help entry-level IT employees across Amazon’s operations network pursue careers in higher-paying technical roles through self-paced learning resources. The course helps employees develop the skills necessary to advance their career in the IT field, such as supporting the Amazon Robotics picking and stowing technology. Participants who complete the course and move up at Amazon can make an additional $10,000 a year.
The User Experience Design and Research (UXDR) Apprenticeship
The UXDR Apprenticeship program combines instructor-led training and real-world experience in a one-year program that offers employees the opportunity to learn and develop skills in research and design on teams across Amazon, including Prime Video, Alexa, AWS, and Amazon Fashion. Graduates are ready for jobs that help improve the experience of Amazon customers, from making payments easier on Amazon sites to designing features that make devices more accessible.
"Today, there are not enough workers to fill every open job in the United States, which means that businesses are struggling to hire—especially for roles that require specific or technical skill sets," said Cheryl Oldham, U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation senior vice president. "When large employers like Amazon commit to investing in their people through upskilling programs, especially in technical fields, it helps to ensure that the business community has access to a workforce pipeline that meets their needs today and in the future. At the Chamber Foundation, we work with employers across the country to pursue solutions that ensure American workers have the right skills to best support and grow our economy and we applaud Amazon for the investment they’re making in the workforce."
In 2020, Amazon announced Upskilling 2025, a $700 million commitment to train 100,000 U.S. employees by 2025 to help them transition into in-demand, higher-paying jobs. Since the launch of Upskilling 2025 in 2019, more than 70,000 employees have participated in one of Amazon’s nine upskilling programs. With the additional investment and expanded education benefits for employees, the company is more than tripling its original pledge—with plans to invest $1.2 billion in these programs and provide free skills training to 300,000 employees by 2025.
Amazon has seen a surge in applications to participate in education programs since the start of the pandemic, reflecting increased interest from employees to fortify their skillsets. Amazon Technical Academy, an upskilling program that helps Amazon employees from all backgrounds become software engineers in nine months, received thousands of applications, with interest increasing 798% over the past 12 months. To accommodate a surge in demand, Amazon scaled all of its upskilling programs, adapting to work-from-home schedules, and welcomed more participants by pivoting from in-person to virtual training. In addition to the new and expanded programs outlined above, Amazon employees have free access to the following skills training programs:
Amazon Technical Academy
Amazon Technical Academy trains employees from across the company to become Amazon software engineers. The nine-month-long internal training program does not require a computer science background or a degree. Amazon Technical Academy has placed over 95% of its graduates into software development engineer roles within Amazon, with their salary and compensation packages increasing an average of 93% as a result. This year more than 52% of Amazon Technical Academy graduates came from Amazon’s operations network.
The Amazon Technical Apprenticeship
This program creates paths to technical jobs, primarily for veterans and military spouses looking to transition into technical professions. Amazon currently employs nearly 50,000 U.S. veterans and military spouses across multiple businesses and recently announced plans to hire 100,000 U.S. veterans and military spouses by 2024.
AWS Training and Certifications
The AWS Training and Certifications program offers Amazon employees access to more than 500 free digital courses to build cloud computing knowledge. As part of this program, AWS TechU offers an accelerated 48-week career-development program that blends project-based learning and on-the-job training to help early-career employees in technical fields advance their skills.
Machine Learning University
A state-of-the-art training program curated and delivered by Amazon employees. It helps employees with a background in technology and coding gain graduate-level skills in machine learning and AI to solve customer problems.
The Mechatronics and Robotics Apprenticeship
Program participants learn the skills and technical knowledge needed to pursue a technical maintenance role supporting Amazon’s robotics technology. Hundreds of Amazon apprentices have earned over 5,000 certifications to date. Upon completion of their apprenticeship, participants could make an additional $16,000 on average each year in their new roles at Amazon.
Explore Amazon’s full roster of education and skills training programs.
The American Upskilling Study
Amazon’s investment in free access to education programs for employees comes as the first-ever Amazon-Gallup American Upskilling Study shows how access to skills training can help companies recruit more workers and help workers build skills for rewarding careers. The analysis found that U.S. workers who completed upskilling programs over the past year have seen an average salary increase of 8.6%—the equivalent of an additional $8,000 in their annual earnings.
The expectation of this salary boost, along with new skills that will help employees move into more technical and resilient industries, have made access to upskilling opportunities one of the most sought-after employee benefits by American workers right now. Currently, 70% of workers interested in upskilling say they would switch to a new job if offered free skills training. For young adults entering the labor market, employer-funded upskilling is more important than paid vacation time.