What You Need To Know About Amazon’s New Career Choice Program

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Online retailer Amazon is establishing a program to help fund the educate of its workforce in areas that may not even relate to their current position.

Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos explained, “We want to make it easier for employees to make that choice and pursue their aspirations. It can be difficult in this economy to have the flexibility and financial resources to teach yourself new skills. So, for people who’ve been with us as little as three years, we’re offering to pre-pay 95% of the cost of courses such as aircraft mechanics, computer-aided design, machine tool technologies, medical lab technologies, nursing, and many other fields.”

The concept of supporting learning that doesn’t directly impact occupational efficacy is a bold one that, while perhaps improving the Amazon brand, may seem risky to some.

“Many of our fulfillment center employees will choose to build their careers at Amazon. For others, a job at Amazon might be a step towards a career in another field. The program is unusual. Unlike traditional tuition reimbursement programs, we exclusively fund education only in areas that are well-paying and in high demand according to sources like the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, and we fund those areas regardless of whether those skills are relevant to a career at Amazon.”

Bezos went on to explain that, “Like many of (the) innovations at Amazon, the Career Choice Program is an experiment.”

The support includes accredited online learning coursework or brick-and-mortar institutions, but it must be in an area that is determined by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics to be “well paying” and in “high demand,” including aircraft mechanics, medicine, and technology.

“We’re excited about it and hope it will pay big dividends for some of our employees. This is one innovation that we hope other companies in this economy will copy.”

From Amazon.com:

Amazon Career Choice Program FAQs

What is the Amazon Career Choice Program?

The Amazon Career Choice Program is an innovative program designed to expand the choices available to our associates in their future career, whether that’s at Amazon or in another industry. Many Associates will choose to build a career at Amazon. For others, a job at Amazon may be the first step in a career path in another industry. The Amazon Career Choice Program provides associates with a resource for building the job skills needed for today’s most in-demand and well-paying careers, such as aircraft mechanics, computer-aided design, machine tool technology, medical laboratory science, dental hygiene, and nursing, to name a few.

Who is eligible for this program?

All Amazon full-time hourly associates in the U.S. who have been employed for three consecutive years are eligible to participate in this program.

What makes this program unique compared to other tuition assistance programs at other employers?

Unlike traditional tuition reimbursement programs, we exclusively fund education only in areas that are well-paying and in high demand according to sources like the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, and we fund those areas regardless of whether those skills are relevant to a career at Amazon. In addition, the Amazon Career Choice Program will pay tuition and fees in advance rather than reimbursement after the completion of the course.

What fields of study are qualified for the program?

The Amazon Career Choice Program will pre-pay 95% of tuition and associated fees at accredited schools for courses that lead to technical and vocational certifications or associate’s degrees in eligible in-demand fields, such as Engineering, Information Technology, Mechanical and Electrical Trades, Healthcare, Construction, Transportation, and Accounting. Specific examples include aircraft mechanics, computer-aided design, machine tool technology, medical laboratory science, dental hygiene, and nursing. This program focuses on technical and vocation training programs and does not apply to Bachelors or Master’s degree coursework.

What are the maximum benefits under the program?

Amazon will pay up to 95% of the tuition, textbook and associated fees up to a maximum of $2,000 per year for four years.

Is online course work eligible for Amazon’s program?

Yes, if the course is from an accredited school and in an approved field of study.

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