The new Amazon Career Choice Program is like a traditional tuition reimbursement program on steroids. Employees that qualify for participation in the program will have 95 percent of their tuition costs prepaid. Employees don’t have to scrounge together several thousand dollars to pay their own tuition and wait until the end of the semester grades are posted to receive a reimbursement. Amazon employees that participate in the new program will actually have the bulk of their tuition fees paid up front.
If that wasn’t already enough to convince you that this is a tuition program on steroids then perhaps this next bit of information will – Amazon will pay the tuition for programs outside of the employee’s current industry. I know that when I worked for companies offering tuition plans the program of study had to be applicable to my current or future position at the company. This isn’t the case with the Amazon Career Choice Program. Now I see why Amazon added the word ‘choice’ to the program name.
Tuition costs will be paid for careers that are in well-paying industries and careers that are in demand, regardless of whether a position in that industry exists at Amazon. Data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics will help guide Amazon in determining which courses are eligible for the tuition program.
After announcing the program, Amazon.com CEO Jeff Bezos published a letter on the website’s homepage. In the letter Bezos explained the program in more detail.
“At Amazon, we like to pioneer, we like to invent, and we're not willing to do things the normal way if we can figure out a better way. 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.”
I love that the program is prepaid, that the career track can be in other industries and that vocational tech programs like aircraft mechanics are covered. Kudos to Bezos and Amazon.com for an outside-the-box approach to a tuition plan.