Since the program’s initial launch over 10 years ago, more than 110,000 employees have taken part in Career Choice, Amazon’s education benefit and upskilling program. We talked with five participants about why they decided to join the program and how it helped them achieve their personal and professional goals.

Sunny Diane Lopez, Balch Springs, Texas

Amazon employee Sunny Diane Lopez recently earned her GED through Career Choice, utilizing a new enhancement to the program launched for eligible U.S. hourly employees in January 2022. Lopez left high school at age 16 to care for her father, who was ill. Now, years later, the Career Choice program gave her an opportunity to complete her GED at no cost. Career Choice partnered with GEDWorks to provide pre-paid test prep courses to prepare participants to take the GED test.

Amazon employees participate in a class through the company’s Career Choice program.

Since earning her GED diploma, Lopez has focused on pursuing an associate degree in Applied Science and becoming an emergency medical technician. “GEDWorks has changed the entire trajectory of my career and has inspired me to continue my path toward higher education,” said Lopez. “The program provides resources and encouragement at each step, and I’ve already seen a positive impact on my career.”

Veronica Mendoza, Goodyear, Arizona

Veronica Mendoza, who works as a packer at the Amazon fulfillment center in Goodyear, Arizona, is one of over 160 employees who received their high school diplomas in the program’s first year of offering high school diplomas and GED classes, following the addition of a GED learning pathway in January 2022. Veronica had not graduated from high school, but she was determined to go back and finish. She said, “I wanted to prove to myself that it's never too late to get your high school diploma. I gained the confidence that if I put my mind to it, I can achieve big things.” Career Choice partners with Smart Horizons to provide high school completion courses and preparation.

Julio Martinez, Hermiston, Oregon

Julio wears a graduation cap and gown and looks up into the crowd.

Julio Martinez is a member of the Data Center Ops team at an AWS data center in Hermiston, Oregon. Last year, he became the first person in his family to receive a bachelor’s degree.

Before joining Amazon three years ago, Martinez had planned to pursue his studies at Portland State University, but he couldn’t afford it. “My challenges with financing my education changed when I joined Amazon,” Martinez said. “I learned about the company’s Career Choice program and a new enhancement that provided tuition assistance for bachelor’s degrees. I immediately became interested because I would be the first person to get a bachelor’s degree in my family.”

The skills-training program checked off major milestones last year, driven by expanded benefits and an increase in demand for skills training and education.

“Thanks to Amazon and their partnership with Western Governors University, I was able to attend school without the additional stress of the cost.” Martinez added. “I was also able to do it at my own pace, where I completed about 17 courses in five months. The Career Choice program covered everything.”

Martinez said he plans to use his degree to work in cloud computing. “I feel prepared for the next steps in my career because of the degree and certifications that come with it. If it weren’t for Career Choice, I wouldn’t have as much opportunity as I do now,” he said.

Catherine Lemonds, Bessemer, Alabama

Catherine Lemonds smiles as she works in a fulfillment center.

Catherine Lemonds joined Amazon’s Career Choice program to work towards a bachelor’s degree. She was drawn to the program after learning about enhancements that were introduced in January 2022.

“Amazon creates an environment where I can balance work and school,” said Lemonds. “With the limitless learning benefit, I'm able to work on completing my bachelor's degree.” The limitless learning benefit provides no limit to the number of years employees can utilize the benefit, as long as they remain at Amazon and in an eligible role.

Sohil Ambelal Patel, Hinckley, UK

An Amazon delivery driver wears an orange vest and smiles as he sits in the driver seat of a delivery vehicle.

Sohil Ambelal Patel is a shipping department process guide at the Amazon fulfillment center in the town of Hinckley, near the city of Birmingham in the UK. He joined Amazon in 2021, following in the footsteps of his wife, sister, and brother-in-law, who have also worked at the site. While he enjoys working at Amazon and alongside his family, Patel has always wanted to expand his skillset, and wanted to become a truck driver.

“I have been at Amazon for just over a year now and I’ve enjoyed every moment,” Patel said. “Before I joined, I wanted to be a Heavy Goods Vehicle driver but didn’t have the money to pay for the program independently.”

Patel’s decision to pursue Heavy Goods Vehicle driver training through Career Choice was a milestone for him and for Amazon. He was the program’s 100,000th participant. “I have been lucky to work with a great team leader at Amazon who is always there to support and highlight opportunities to learn new skills,” Patel said.

Learn more about Career Choice and Amazon’s nine other upskilling programs.