A three-year, U.S. Army scholarship made it possible for me to complete my degree. I joined the U.S. Army Signal Corps in 1983, and after a year of technical training that complemented my liberal arts degree, I went to work building databases and analytical tools to assess the performance of combat communication systems like GPS and cellphones. I spent more than five years in the Army, and attained the rank of captain, but when I was ready to transition into the private sector, it was a tough landing. I didn’t speak the language of business and wasn’t sure where to start. I felt lost.
My first job was in retail, selling kids’ clothes, but I knew that I wanted to continue to build a career in technology. Making that transition was more difficult than I ever expected, despite my great tech training and experience. I had to think differently about my path and build my civilian resume through an entry-level job before landing a role comparable to the one I’d left in the Army.
It shouldn’t be that hard.
That’s why I’m proud of Amazon’s commitment to hire over 100,000 U.S. veterans and military spouses by 2024. We’re not just creating jobs—we’re also making it easy for military veterans and their spouses to access tools and training to reimagine their careers in technology, without needing prior experience. LinkedIn estimates that 55% of veterans want a career change when they leave the military. That’s where skills training programs can really make a difference.
Through company-funded programs like the Amazon Technical Apprenticeship, we’re training military members and their spouses for in-demand technical roles at Amazon, and making progress toward our $1.2 billion commitment to provide free education and upskilling opportunities to 300,000 Amazon employees by 2025.
We also have several programs for the public, including AWS Educate and AWS re/Start, that are part of our global commitment to provide 29 million people with free access to cloud computing skills training by 2025. In fact, this week we’re hosting the AWS Fiber Optic Fusion Splicing program for the first time on a military base, Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Washington. This two-day intensive program teaches individuals how to repair and test fiber optic cables, which are made up of tiny glass tubes and require specialized knowledge to repair. In addition, Amazon partners with City University of Seattle to provide veterans and military spouses with a 25% tuition reduction for more than 100 online and campus-based associate, bachelor’s, master’s, and doctorate degree programs to continue growing their careers.
We know that training programs have the potential to make a difference in people’s lives. Skills training can provide a helpful on-ramp into high-growth jobs. Here are just a few of the standout stories I’ve heard across our programs:
From Army mechanic to Amazon software engineer
The Amazon Technical Apprenticeship program is one way we’re providing transitioning military members and their spouses with upskilling opportunities. This apprenticeship is a U.S. Department of Labor–certified program that offers a combination of paid immersive learning and on-the-job training with Amazon for up to 18 months, and primarily focuses on military veterans and spouses. The program has already created paths to technical jobs for hundreds of candidates working to break into new careers, including cloud support associate, data center technician, and software development engineer. Due to the success of Amazon Technical Apprenticeships for former military members, the program is also piloting an expansion to additional historically underrepresented groups in tech, including women and Black, Latinx, and Native American communities.
Rasoj Timsina, who is originally from Nepal, first heard about the Amazon Technical Apprenticeship program in 2017 while stationed in Hawaii, working as a mechanic in the U.S. Army. When he began his Amazon Technical Apprenticeship experience in 2018 to become an AWS data center technician, he had almost no technical experience.
“I never doubted my instincts to pursue an apprenticeship at Amazon, because I knew it would set me up for success,” Timsina said. “I knew there would be opportunities all over the world for me once I got my foot in the door, and it was a big deal that the apprenticeship paid me and gave me on-the-job experience.”
After excelling as an AWS data center technician, Timsina pursued another apprenticeship to reach his ultimate goal of becoming a software development engineer.
“My apprenticeships have meant everything to me,” he said. “Now, I’m in this software development role on the Amazon Fulfillment Technology team. I’m working hard to learn as much as I can so I can keep growing my career in the future—I know there’s always more to learn at Amazon.”
From speech therapist to aspiring cloud security architect
AWS re/Start helps prepare unemployed and underemployed individuals for new careers in technology. The free, 12-week program includes scenario-based exercises, hands-on labs, and coursework, enabling participants to build skills in Linux, Python, networking, security, and relational databases. The program also covers the cost for learners to take the AWS Certified Cloud Practitioner exam, validating their cloud skills with an industry-recognized credential. AWS re/Start is designed to provide a pipeline of entry-level cloud computing talent for local employers, connecting more than 90% of graduates with job interview opportunities.
“I’m a speech therapist by trade, and I’ve been a full-time homeschooling mom for the past 14 years,” said Moalyne Honoré, a veteran spouse currently enrolled in the U.S. AWS re/Start cohort in collaboration with ACI Learning. After transitioning out of the military, Honoré's husband began working in the public sector. He also decided to start studying cloud computing and cybersecurity.
“I would help him study to encourage him. In the process, I got exposure to security and cloud concepts, and I decided that cloud was the way to go as I thought about building my career,” Honoré explained. “I applied for AWS re/Start not only for the knowledge, but for the community—to learn with a group that is doing this together. I see myself being able to use this as a foundation to upskill myself into a cloud security architect role.”
Smoothing the transition with stackable credentials
AWS Educate creates pathways to in-demand cloud jobs, from software development and cloud architecture to machine learning and cybersecurity. The program offers self-paced learning via 12 Cloud Career Pathways, each featuring 30-50 hours of instructional content. AWS Educate supports U.S. veterans, transitioning military personnel, and their spouses with access to the cloud resources needed to pursue careers in cloud computing.
“As I prepared for my transition from the military, I started researching what learning opportunities were out there. I found a link to AWS Educate on a transitioning site, and it seemed like the best way to explore the cloud,” said Robert Clarady, who benefitted from AWS Educate while transitioning from the military. Through AWS Educate, he has taken several pathways, including Cloud Computing 101, Solutions Architect, and Cloud Support Engineer.
“It’s built my confidence. I now actually know what cloud is and how it works,” he added. “I would highly recommend AWS Educate to [my] fellow transitioning veterans. It gives everybody something that they don’t necessarily get when they’re in the service so they can get that next job.”
Whether they are considering a new career or just looking to learn something new, I hope military veterans and their families will be inspired to take action. Learn more about the programs Amazon offers and get started.