These 5 Career Pathways Are Helping Walmart and Sam's Club Associates Transition to the Future of Retail

Sep. 6, 2023

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I love so many aspects of working at Walmart, but by far my favorite thing is connecting with our incredible frontline associates. Every associate I meet has a unique story to share and an inspiring pathway they’ve taken to be successful.

While so many employers are grappling with the future of work and how technology is changing jobs, our people have us poised to win the next generation of retail. When Walmart and Sam’s Club create new ways to serve customers and members, we’re creating new career pathways for our associates.

We are investing in our 2.1 million associates worldwide to create new jobs, skills training and pathways that connect them to life-changing, in-demand careers within critical parts of our growing business. Recently, I had the chance to meet five associates who have forged career pathways that show where we are going as one of the largest employers in the country. Their stories are inspirational – but they’re not outliers.

1. In-store/club operations: 75% of our U.S. frontline managers started as hourly associates

  • Last year, we promoted more than 180,000 U.S. associates to roles with greater responsibility and higher pay. 
  • Meet Dasha Long, Merchandise Compliance Manager, Sam’s Club 6779, Moore, Oklahoma

Dasha is a perfect example of the ladder of opportunity we’re so proud of. She started as a café closer, but her leaders quickly saw her passion for serving members and her desire to learn. They helped her explore her interests and learn areas of the business like working in the deli, unloading trucks and conducting audits, ordering and inventory in her club’s bakery.

After welcoming her second child, Dasha took advantage of Sam’s Club’s maternity and parental leave benefits and didn’t miss a beat when she returned to work. Before long, she went through management training and earned her first salaried role with the company, thanks to her own talent and ambition, as well as the willingness of her leaders to invest in the next generation. Sam’s Club leaders like Dasha will continue to advance in their careers by building skills and capabilities through our in-house Academy training and development programs.

2. New tech-powered jobs

  • A new role that is more mentally stimulating and less physically demanding 
  • Meet Jose Vargas, Cell Operator, DC 6020, Brooksville, Florida

Jose worked as a shipping loader – a physically demanding, manual job – for most of his 20 years with the company. In that role, he would load trucks by hand with product going to our stores. That changed recently when Walmart updated his regional distribution center into a high-tech facility that can serve customers better and faster. Now he’s a cell operator, a newly created job that is in charge of managing the automated systems that move product throughout the distribution center. Jose and his team work in tandem with the new technology and solve issues throughout the day to keep product moving fast. To help lessen the learning curve, they participated in a six-week training program where they learned about the software and how to troubleshoot when issues arise with the machines. Jose quickly mastered the job and now leads training efforts at his facility – one of the aspects of the new job he enjoys the most, along with having more energy to spend time with his wife and children after work. He’s a great example of the bridge between what is and what can be.

3. From frontline to making up to $110,000 as a Walmart truck driver

  • 191 associates have graduated from our 7 training sites and become drivers in our private fleet 
  • Meet Reece Niblett, Private Fleet Truck Driver, Sanger, Texas

Reece found out about our Associate to Driver program from his best friend, Sean. The two worked side-by-side in a distribution center but made the big career change, which pays for store, Sam’s Club, transportation and supply chain associates to earn their commercial driver’s license (CDL) and become Walmart truck drivers making up to $110,000 in their first year on the job.

Now they work together as a two-person driver team delivering merchandise across the country. The program is giving associates life-changing career opportunities while also helping us continue to grow our private fleet.

4. College degrees and certificates paid for by Walmart

  • Nearly 4,000 associates enrolled in cybersecurity degree or certificate programs 
  • Meet Jason Yang, Walmart Global Tech, Sunnyvale, California

Tech talent is in-demand here at Walmart and we’re giving store and supply chain associates like Jason the chance to move from frontline retail roles into tech jobs making six figures. Walmart pays for associates to earn certificates and degrees, including cybersecurity degrees, through our Live Better U education program. Jason pursued that route, but he also benefited from our Home Office Pathways Experience (HOPE) program, another avenue for frontline associates to transition into campus roles.

5. New opportunities for Health & Wellness associates

  • Approximately 7,500 vision center associates will earn licensures and certificates through new development program 
  • Meet Heather Oliveri, Senior Manager, H&W Learning, Bentonville, Arkansas

Heather began her Walmart journey as a cashier but found her way to the Vision Center where she became a dual-licensed optician in Ohio. Now that she’s moved into a campus job, she’s paving the way for others to build their own successful careers by helping design our new Optician Development Program, from the renowned Optical Training Institute.

Walmart pays for Vision Center associates to earn nationally recognized certifications and licenses that open the doors to higher pay and more career opportunities. If this sounds familiar, it’s because we created a similar program for Walmart and Sam’s Club pharmacy technicians.

There are a lot of stories like Heather’s, Dasha’s and Jason’s: stories of Walmart and Sam’s Club associates with a passion for serving customers and members and creating pathways for the next generation of leaders to build great careers. And development doesn’t end at the store or club manager level: Our manager academy program allows store managers to grow their skills when it comes to managing people and serving customers, two of the most important aspects of leadership. Because at the end of the day, we’re all one team – one Walmart – working to serve customers and members.

To learn more about the jobs we offer (and to join our winning team!), please visit careers.walmart.com.