Computer Science

Want to Work for Amazon? Here Are the Degrees You’ll Need.

Want to Work for Amazon? Here Are the Degrees You’ll Need.
Exploring the Amazon job site reveals thousands of opportunities in tech positions, but there’s lots of room for those proficient in economics, education, and public policy. Image from Unsplash
Rina Diane Caballar profile
Rina Diane Caballar May 21, 2019

Jeff Bezos’ brainchild business looks for candidates who are owners and innovators. But will you get past the “peculiar” job interview? Alexa can’t help you here.

Computer Science and Data Science Programs You Should Consider

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Are you an econ major fresh out of university? Or maybe you’re thinking of pursuing a degree in public administration. Or perhaps, as someone in a tech role, you might be ready for that next step in your career. But what do economics, public administration, and tech jobs have in common? These are fields that can get you a job at Amazon.

The world’s largest online retailer is constantly innovating and finding new ways to satisfy its customers. At the same time, Amazon strives to keep employees happy—and seems to be doing a great job in both aspects. Amazon is ranked third in LinkedIn’s 2019 list of top U.S. companies to work for and fifth on Forbes’ 2018 list of the world’s best employers. Amazon took the fifth spot in the world’s most innovative companies in 2018, according to Fast Company, and is the most-loved brand in America in 2019 based on Morning Consult’s findings.

Do you have your sights set on a career at one of the world’s biggest online retailers? Find out what educational background you’ll need—with plenty of job-scoring tips and tricks from Amazon’s cart.

A slice of Amazon’s giant history

Amazon was founded by Jeff Bezos in 1994, AKA the dot-com boom. The online bookstore began out of Bezos’ garage and quickly grew into the e-commerce behemoth it is today, having expanded into consumer electronics with the Kindle and Echo, movies and TV with Amazon Studios, and even cloud computing through its Amazon Web Services platform. Amazon became a trillion-dollar company in 2018 and reported $59.7 billion in revenue during the first quarter of 2019.

The e-commerce giant’s (and we mean giant) headquarters is located in Seattle, called the Spheres—a trio of dome-like outdoor structures with the feel of a rainforest indoors—as its most distinct feature. As of October 2018, Amazon had over 600,000 employees worldwide. With its planned second headquarters, Amazon HQ2, in Virginia, the company envisions adding 25,000 jobs in the coming decade.



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Behind the shelves at Amazon

Amazon’s employees—”Amazonians,” as they call themselves—are organized into departments including business intelligence, data science, economics, finance and accounting, leadership development and training, machine learning science, public policy, and software development. According to the company’s LinkedIn page, 51 percent of its employees are entry-level, while 29 percent are in senior positions and 14 percent are managers. When it comes to education level, 50 percent of Amazon employees have bachelor’s degrees, 26 percent have a master’s degree, and 17 percent have a master’s degree in business administration.

Based on data from Glassdoor, tech positions at Amazon pay well, though not as high as companies like Apple, Netflix, and Spotify. Here are some of the highest-paid roles at the company, listed by average annual base salary:

  • Principal software engineer: $168,476
  • Senior software development manager: $164,733
  • Software development manager: $153,490
  • Senior software engineer: $150,180
  • Solutions architect: $144,711
  • Machine learning scientist: $141,137
  • Senior data engineer: $125,319
  • Data scientist: $122,756
  • Security engineer: $116,383
  • Business intelligence engineer: $103,134

Amazon describes its culture as innovative, peculiar (especially in terms of interviews), customer-centric, and grounded in leadership principles. Others see Amazon as a cutthroat and intense work environment with high rates of employee burnout and a “Hunger Games” review process. But not all reviews are negative. One employee interviewed by LinkedIn summed their experience by saying, “If you want to get your hands dirty and actually go do stuff that’s going to impact a lot of customers quickly, I can’t think of a better place to do it than Amazon.”

The company’s benefits include healthcare coverage, a retirement plan, stock options, employee discounts on Amazon products, paid parental leave options, and a career choice program that pre-pays a huge chunk of tuition reimbursement and related fees for continuing education.
Want to be an Amazonian? Here are the degrees you’ll need.
Exploring the Amazon job site reveals thousands of opportunities in tech positions, but there’s lots of room for those proficient in economics, education, and public policy.

What kinds of jobs are available at Amazon?

Software development. Amazon is looking for software development engineers and database engineers. You’ll need programming experience in languages such as Java, Python, and SQL; knowledge of software engineering best practices; and a deep understanding of databases. Earning a degree in computer science or information technology will help you acquire the necessary skills.

Data. Data scientists, data engineers, and business intelligence engineers are among the roles you’ll find at Amazon. You’ll be tasked with analyzing large amounts of data, deriving insights to help support business decisions, and establishing efficient and scalable processes for data analysis. To do the job, you’ll need a degree in computer science, math, statistics, or business intelligence.

Machine learning. These jobs include applied scientist and machine learning scientist. You’ll have comprehensive knowledge of machine learning models and methods, a strong foundation in algorithms and data structures, and solid programming skills. A master’s degree or doctoral degree in computer science, machine learning, data science, or a closely related field is required.

Education. Amazon also has roles available for curriculum developers and learning experience designers. You’ll be responsible for identifying learning objectives, designing a learning curriculum based on those objectives, and developing new learning models. A master’s degree in education or instructional design is preferred for these jobs.

Public policy. Amazon is looking for policy analysts and public policy managers. You’ll work with different teams to align business priorities with public policy goals, develop strategies for policy issues, analyze legislation and regulations, and create policies that benefit customers. To do the job, you’ll need a degree in public administration or public policy. Having a
J.D. or law degree is a strong plus.

Economists. Amazon also offers jobs for economists, with the company hiring
over 150 economists in the past five years—even those just out of school. You’ll apply your knowledge of economic theory to areas such as advertising and market design, build economic models, and develop new techniques to solve quantitative problems. Earning an advanced degree in economics, finance, financial economics, or quantitative finance is essential to the role.

Bring your A-game to Amazon

The right educational foundation is a starting point but, unfortunatly, it isn’t enoough. Amazon hires people who are at the top of their game. As the company says, “We aspire to make interviewing at Amazon as frustration-free as our shopping experience.” Thankfully, Amazon also offers plenty of job application tips tailored to its specific hiring process—from preparing for your interview and the possible topics covered for tech roles to its bar-raiser programand insights for interns and recent grads. By combining these tips with your skills and qualifications, you’ll be ready to walk into your interview and present yourself with confidence, knowing you’re the total package.

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About the Editor

Tom Meltzer spent over 20 years writing and teaching for The Princeton Review, where he was lead author of the company's popular guide to colleges, before joining Noodle.

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