Walmart Now Offers its U.S. Workers Cheap College Tuition

Thought you’d never want to work at Walmart? Well, think again!

Everyone likes to make fun of Walmart and the people who shop there, but the retail giant is obviously doing something right since Walmart is America’s largest private employer and the world’s largest retailer (Top, 2018). A typical Walmart store stocks over 100,000 items compared to the average supermarket’s 40,000 items or Costco’s 4,000 items (CNBC, 2012). Though the company recently closed many of its Sam’s Club locations (Jones, 2018), Walmart is expanding its role in e-commerce and some of those warehouses will be converted into fulfillment centers to compete with Amazon.

Walmart operates about 12,000 store locations across the United States. The retail chain offers various employment positions from entry-level workers to managerial jobs. Examples include: Greeter, Cashier, Customer Service, Sales Associate, Fresh Food Associate, Maintenance Associate, Housekeeping Associate, Money Center Associate, Stocker/Receiving Associate, Pharmacy Technician, Pharmacist, Optometrist, Electronics Sales Associate, Cart Retriever, Department Manager, Store Manager, Assistant Store Manager, Beauty Sales Associate, Automotive Sales Associate, Automotive Technician, Tire Sales Associate, Photo Sales Associate, Bike Assembler, and Truck Driver. Expansion into new markets will provide additional job opportunities such as personal shoppers and distribution center associates.

Walmart hires for full-time careers and part-time jobs as well as temporary work during the holidays. Most locations are open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Applicants must be at least 16 years old. Typical pay rates for associates begin at $11.00/hour, and could be higher depending on your location, grade level, and experience. While prior work experience is not required for most jobs, some related employment history may make candidates stand out in the hiring processes. It’s easy to work your way up from an entry level position if you’re motivated, since the retailer promotes more than 400 people every single day – and 40% of promotions go to first-year associates! In fact, 70% of store managers started out as hourly associates.

Walmart’s Benefits and its Newest Perk: Subsidized Tuition

Walmart offers its employees numerous benefits. Depending on the position, workers qualify for store discounts as well as free Sam’s Club membership. Additionally, workers can receive healthcare coverage, 401(k) plans, life insurance, disability insurance, and sick/vacation time. Moreover, Walmart is now offering another perk: affordable access to a college degree without incurring student loan debt.

The retailer announced in a press release on May 30, 2018, that it will subsidize tuition for any of its 1.4 million U.S. workers who enroll in supply chain management or business courses. Walmart is teaming up with Denver-based Guild Education to offer employees the chance to obtain associate’s and bachelor’s degrees in Business or Supply Chain Management. The plan is to eventually expand to more types of degrees. About 68,000 employees are expected to enroll in the first five years.

Under the program, the student’s contribution toward a college degree would be just $1 a day, which translates to about $75 per semester (Harris, 2018). Classes will be offered through three non-profit universities with online degree programs: the University of Florida, Brandman University, and Bellevue University. Walmart is subsidizing the cost of tuition, books and fees, eliminating the need for student loans. Both full-time and part-time workers who have been with the company at least 90 days will be able to qualify for the reduced tuition.

Walmart’s new education benefit puts it in the league of Starbucks, which three years ago began offering four years of tuition for an online college degree from Arizona State University. According to CBS News, this move “underscores how retailers, restaurant chains, and other service businesses are under increasing pressure to improve the skills of their entry-level workers at a time when their jobs are getting more complicated due to the rise of online shopping, steeper competition from Amazon and more demanding shoppers” (CBS, 2018).

Walmart associates will receive academic counseling and support from a Guild Education coach on everything from the application and enrollment process to selecting the appropriate degree. The retailer will also offer college-prep classes for workers who need extra help bridging high school and higher education, which in the past has included helping workers get their high school degrees or GEDs.

Walmart hopes the new tuition benefit will help it recruit and retain higher quality entry-level employees in a tight U.S. labor market. “Investing in the personal and professional success of our associates is vital to Walmart’s future success. We know training and learning opportunities empower associates to deliver for customers while growing and advancing in their careers,” said CEO Greg Foran (Walmart, 2018).


CBS News. (2018, May 31). Walmart Offers Some of its Workers a New Perk: Subsidized College. CBS News Moneywatch. Retrieved from
CNBC. (2012, April 26). The Costco Craze: Inside the Warehouse Giant. CNBC Originals. Retrieved from
Harris, Beth. (2018, May 30). Earn a College Degree for a Dollar a Day. Retrieved from
Jones, Charisse. (2018, January 12). Sam’s Club Closing Dozens of Stores; Some Being Converted to Distribution Centers. USA Today. Retrieved from
Top 10 Largest Retail Companies in the World. (2018, March 27). The Daily Records. Retrieved from
Walmart. (2018, May 30). Walmart’s New Education Benefit Puts Cap and Gown Within Reach for Associates. [Press Release.] Retrieved from

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