Monat is the founder of Caliweedjobs, a MediaJel brand. The company was created as a platform for California cannabis talent and employers to meet. Caliweedjobs is a bustling professional community and is currently the leading cannabis jobs board in that region.

America is witnessing a job boom in a veiled sector – the legal cannabis industry. There are over 211,000 Americans directly employed in the cannabis space. The cannabis industry added 64,389 U.S. jobs in 2018, a 44% gain, according to industry authorities Leafly and Whitney Economics. According to the report, that’s enough people to fill Chicago’s Soldier Field, with 3,000 more tailgating outside. To put things into further perspective, there are currently more legal cannabis industry workers than dental hygienists in the United States.

Employment opportunities in the cannabis industry continue to generate, as more states become legal, and show no signs of slowing down. There is no better time, or greater opportunity, to get involved in this nascent space.

Breaking the industry down.

Cannabis jobs fall within multiple categories, but all are either “plant-touching” or “ancillary.” Plant-touching businesses work directly with the plant, whether by cultivating, processing, distributing or selling. These companies are held to the strictest regulations and must secure proper licensing and navigate complex regulations prior to getting started.

Ancillary businesses are comprised of any companies that support the industry without actually touching the plant. This includes attorneys, accountants, digital marketers, advertising and public relations specialists, payment processors, data platforms, ag-tech companies and more.

Opportunities abound regardless of which side of the industry you plant yourself.

Getting ‘hand’s-on’ experience.

If you like working directly with the plant, but have little experience, becoming a budtender or trimmer may be of interest. These are entry-level positions that pay up to $16 per hour. A budtender is the gatekeeper to the product, working behind the dispensary counter checking ID’s, tracking sales and helping to educate customers on the products. Trimmers work directly with the grower and can be hired seasonally or full-time.

Extraction requires education and skills, and typically will require a background in chemistry or prior experience in a pharmaceutical lab. A director can make up to $250,000 in salary, so a great opportunity for someone with a Ph.D. or proficiency in producing oils and concentrates. Likewise, you will need formal education and experience to become a Director of Cultivation, or master grower. A background in horticulture or agriculture will most likely be required and the job will involve planting, cloning, feeding, watering and pest management. Managing compliance will also be a critical part of this profession.

Whether interested in agriculture, retail, science or manufacturing, there are countless job opportunities in cannabis to satisfy all skill sets and levels of experience.

From corporate to cannabis.

Many entrepreneurs in the U.S. have made the decision to enter the cannabis ancillary space. Because these jobs do not involve direct handling of the plant, legal conflict and the need to jump through compliance and regulatory hoops is greatly minimized. These ancillary opportunities allow a seasoned professional to pivot existing skills and experience and enter this immature and swiftly inflating industry.

Careers that are ancillary to the cannabis space are often overlooked, but most necessary. These are the people who are literally building the space from the ground-up.

The cannabis industry is in continuous need for experienced accountants, controllers, data scientists, machine-learning engineers, B2B and consumer marketing experts, and those with business development experience. If you are interested in construction, security, real estate, or human resources, these are all categories that have found a permanent home in this space.

Taking steps to land your dream job. 

  1. Manage your expectations. The cannabis industry is new and flourishing, but that doesn’t equate to landing a C-suite position out of the gate, nor does it mean that you will double your current salary upon entry. While some companies may sweeten your offer for employment with stock options, this is not a guarantee.
  2. Be open to relocating. Cannabis jobs are not spread out evenly across the U.S. While you may find some ancillary positions available in random states, the majority of those employed in the cannabis industry are concentrated in the eleven states, (and Washington DC), where cannabis is recreationally legal. In fact, California houses 33% of all jobs in the space, while Denver accounts for 7%. 
  3. Don’t wait. Cannabis is growing while other industries are shrinking, so now is the time to make your move. A recent report from New Frontier Data projects that by 2020 the legal cannabis market will create more than a quarter of a million jobs. This is more than the expected jobs from manufacturing, utilities or even government jobs, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. If the cannabis industry is on your career map, there is no better time than now to jump in and get started.

Before you start packing your bags for California, Nevada or some other green state, there are a few things you will need to make sure you have taken care of. First and foremost, be sure to update your resume. While you may not have specific cannabis experience, highlight the experience and skills that you do have. They will certainly serve to set you apart from your competition.

Consider taking an online course at Green Flower Media’s Academy. If you are completely new to the space, the Cannabis Fundamentals Certificate Program is ideal. The course teaches the history of cannabis, the Endocannabinoid system, biology and botany of cannabis, nuances of each cannabis product and delivery method, cannabinoids and terpenes, addressing cannabis myths and fears with science, proper dosing protocols, safe cannabis use, careers in cannabis, and more. This knowledge will prove invaluable to you on your new career path.

Cannabis job fairs and networking opportunities are popping up all over the country. This is a perfect occasion to engage the experts, ask meaningful questions and educate yourself on existing opportunities.

After you have done your due diligence, explore specialized cannabis job boards like Caliweedjobs, or visit with a cannabis recruiting firm like Vangst. These resources will help you facilitate your job search and land your dream job in the cannabis industry.

Opportunity abounds.

If you have the drive, entrepreneurial spirit and qualifications to land a job in the cannabis industry, there is no ceiling for potential growth. You will be placing yourself at a great advantage immediately out of the gate. Most companies will offer full medical benefits, and Glassdoor recently reported that the average cannabis job pays over 10% higher than the U.S. median salary.

Getting your foot in the door is key, but taking the necessary steps to prepare yourself for the industry is paramount. The culture in this space is like no other, and once you have found your home you are likely to plant roots and grow your cannabis career for years to come.