PATTERSON — The Amazon jobs have arrived.
The online retail giant has begun hiring for hundreds of open positions at its new distribution center in Patterson. In preparation for the influx of applications, Amazon announced it will hold informational seminars for potential job seekers Tuesday at Modesto Centre Plaza.
The new million-square-foot facility in Patterson's West Ridge Business Park will handle large item shipments — from televisions to barbecues. The bulk of the jobs will be hourly positions on the warehouse floor responsible for picking, packing and shipping customer orders.
These "fulfillment associate" positions are open to those 18 years or older and requires at least a high school diploma or equivalent, the ability to read and take direction in English and the physical fitness to do the lifting, walking and climbing required of the work.
Patterson Mayor Luis Molina said he has received innumerable questions aboutjobs at the new center since it was first announced in May 2012, and is excited for the process to begin.
"I wish I had a dollar for every phone call, email I got, saying, 'Mayor, how do I apply? Where do I apply?' " Molina said. "Anything we can do to put people to work is great, and the added tax base from a big company is great. We're happy all around."
Amazon handles all of its fulfillment center applications through its hiring site, www.amazonfulfillmentcareers. com.
To help candidates through the application process, Amazon has partnered with Alliance Worknet to hold two job seminars, one in the morning and one in the evening, Tuesday in Modesto. Amazon recruiters will be on hand to offer details about the positions available and explain the application process.
"It's going to be really informative to job seekers," said Alisha Cruz, public relations manager for Alliance Worknet. "It doesn't necessarily give them an edge to get in with company, but it gives them knowledge of what exactly they're looking for and if it's right for the job seekers."
Informational meetings will be from 9 to 10:30 a.m. and 6 to 7:30 p.m. at Modesto Centre Plaza at 10th and K streets. Admission will be on a first-come basis and limited to the first 600 people in attendance at each session.
No applications will be accepted at that time, but Alliance Worknet will host its own application events at its downtown Modesto and Patterson sites Wednesday for people who need help navigating the online process.
Salary ranges have been posted for the warehouse positions, but Amazon spokeswoman Kelly Cheeseman said median pay for fulfillment center jobs is 30 percent higher than at traditional retail stores. Thirty percent more than the California minimum wage would be $10.40 an hour.
All employees will be eligible for a comprehensive benefits package that includes both health insurance and company stock awards.
The center originally was expected to open in the second quarter of this year, but now looks to be ready by late summer or early fall. Molina said Amazon plans to have the distribution center up and running before the busy holiday shopping season begins.
The job description for fulfillment associates says the work environment includes being around moving mechanical parts in fast-paced, noisy conditions where the temperature can vary between 60 and 90 degrees and "will occasionally exceed 90 degrees."
In recent years, Amazon has come under fire for what some workers have said are hectic and sometimes hot conditions in its warehouses. But public interest in the positions remain high. Cruz said she expects both information sessions to be at capacity.
While the fulfillment associates will be the vast majority of the positions, Amazon is continuing to hire for other administrative, technical and maintenance positions at the Patterson site. They include jobs in human resources, information technology, health and safety and more.
Those positions can be found by visiting www.amazon.com and clicking the "Careers" link at the bottom of the page.
Amazon's road to its new center in Modesto began shrouded in mystery. It was first known only as Project X when the Patterson City Council held a special meeting in January 2012 to discuss the development. At the time, it promised to employ some 1,500 people.
Since the arrival of the world's largest Internet retailer was confirmed later that year, the company has continued to refuse to give firm employment numbers, only saying "hundreds" of jobs would be available. Patterson city officials estimate some 1,000 jobs could be needed for the center.
The Fortune 500 company posted 27 percent sales growth in the past year, topping $61.09 billion in net sales for 2012.
"I hope and encourage people to attend the (informational) trainings," Molina said. "We want to try to do what we can to give our residents a chance of getting those jobs."
To apply online and for hiring information, visit www.amazonfulfillmentcareers.com.
AT A GLANCEBasic qualifications for Amazon fulfillment associate positions:
• Must be at least 18 years old
• Must have a high school diploma or equivalent
• Must be able to read and take direction in English
• Must be able to work all shifts, including overtime
• Must be able to lift up to 49 pounds with or without reasonable accommodation
• Must be able to stand/walk for up to 10-12 hours in addition to frequent pushing, pulling, squatting, bending, reaching and climbing stairs