Last week, Amazon announced that it would generate an additional 100,000 “full-time, full-benefit jobs” in the United States over the next 18 months.
That’s a lot of jobs, but how many of them are tech-related? According to Amazon’s own breakdown, a significant portion of these new positions will be in the company’s “fulfillment centers” (i.e., warehouses). As Amazon expands its e-commerce operations, it must either upgrade its existing warehouses or create new ones in order to ship goods to customers on time.
The rise of Amazon Prime, which offers guaranteed two-day shipping to members, has powered the need for still more Amazon warehouses around the country. Amazon’s experiments with package-delivering drones, and even its patents for massive “warehouse blimps” drifting in the lower atmosphere, suggest a company leaving no technological stone unturned in its quest to speed up order fulfillment.
Amazon’s statements about its employment tsunami offer precious little detail about tech jobs. This may be a reflection of corporate strategy; the company may not want its competitors to know that it intends to hire thousands of professionals who specialize in machine learning or (just as a hypothetical example) self-driving vehicles. Amazon’s core tech facilities, most notably Lab126 in Silicon Valley (which developed the Kindle e-reader, among other products), are notoriously secretive.
Nonetheless, it seems that the bulk of Amazon’s coming jobs are warehouse-related. But the company still needs tech pros: as it continues to expand its artificial-intelligence offerings around Alexa, its voice-activated digital assistant, expect to see job openings related to A.I., machine learning, and associated disciplines. Amazon also remains a leader in the cloud thanks to Amazon Web Services (AWS), and thus will need skilled cloud talent in order to build out its products.
Beyond A.I. and cloud services, Amazon’s relentless expansion into new lines of business such as video streaming (via its acquisition of Twitch, essentially YouTube for video gamers) and microprocessors (through its Annapurna Labs buyout) ensures that it will need a constant inflow of technology professionals for the foreseeable future. And as a company that delivers tons of packages to human beings all over the world every day, it needs warehouse and logistics people just as badly.