There is a huge growth potential in the cannabis industry. Over the past few years, it has increased employment in many states, whether it's for jobs directly in the industry, or related to it. Colorado, for instance, boasts one of the lowest unemployment rates in the U.S. — which is due in large part to cannabis.
So, how can you stake your claim in this booming industry? What types of careers are or will be available, allowing you to partake in the cannabis market action? And, what do you need to do to snag a job in this competitive field?
Getting a Job in the Booming Marijuana Market
Work regulations may vary by state, as well as the facility you’re applying to work at. Because of the nature of the work, it may be incredibly difficult to find a job in this market if you have a drug or felony charge.
You may have to take (and possibly pay for) a background check and drug test. You may also have to become registered within your state and/or city (this can take some time). And, because you have to be 21 to buy pot, in many states, you also have to be at least 21 to sell it in legal dispensaries.
In many cases, you’ll need experience in the cannabis market, but there are also a lot of employers willing to train people they think are a good fit.
Other tips for getting hired in the cannabis industry:
- Remember to dress professionally for your interview, as you would for any average retail establishment.
- Don't smoke before your interview — and on the flip side, you don't need to be a smoker to find a job in the field.
- Have a clean record.
- Highlight your skills relating to the job you're interviewing for. Even if your experience in the industry is lacking, you can be trained to understand it. If you demonstrate the soft skills necessary, you may stand out.
- Skills such as bookkeeping, botanical, customer service, and sales will be beneficial.
- Having experience in either a startup business or in the "green" industry can benefit you as well, since cannabusiness is considered both.
- Having a basic knowledge of the products at the dispensary you're interviewing with can help your interview as well.
Careers in the Legal and Medical Cannabis Industry
Most of these careers are only available in states where legal and/or medical marijuana is permitted:
- Budtender: Like a bartender, they help customers decide which strain of pot to purchase. You’ll need to know the bud industry, how the plants were grown, and how the products you sell were created. Having a retail-related background may be beneficial as well. You'll want to be well informed about the rules and regulations of the marijuana industry on both the retail and medical end. This is one career slot most companies are looking to fill like crazy. A good budtender is not easy to find.
- Edibles chef: A good career if you’re a whiz in the kitchen thanks to your post-secondary education in a culinary arts program, and if you’re worldly when it comes to marijuana due to your specialized interest. Combining the two skills means you make the meanest edible concoctions, guaranteed to delight partakers. You are also well aware of the strict yet ever-changing industry laws for testing and selling products, and you know how to properly measure extracts for a safe and delectable consumer experience.
- Director of extraction: You will oversee all the extraction technicians who work in the facility with you. You’ll test the products for quality assurance and quality control, ensuring you’re producing the best marijuana on the highly competitive market. You’re also going to have to make sure all the equipment is in working order. You’ll develop operating protocol, set a production schedule, as well as track all your orders. You’ll need a bachelor’s degree in chemistry, food science, or another related career.
- Extraction technician: You’re the whiz who can turn a plant into hashish, oil, or other types of extractions. You should have an associate or bachelor’s degree in chemistry, natural sciences, biochemistry, or engineering. Because you’ll be working in a lab, you need to have the experience and background in order to get the job done.
- Cultivation director: You have an associate or bachelor’s in an agricultural field such as crop science or farm management. You’re the master grower of the cannabis crops. You maintain protocol and keep lots of documents on the harvest, strains, combinations, and more. You’ll train apprentices and supervisors so that you can actually take a break now and again. Your salary will depend on where you work and what state you’re in.
- Dispensary manager: You’ll be overseeing the day-to-day at a headshop. You’ll be dealing with the vendors, as well as the law. You’ll hire and train staff, keep stock in supply, and basically run the place like you would any other retail outlet. Very often, bachelor’s degrees are preferred for this position.
- Growth/botanical specialist/gardener: You are responsible for growing hardy species of cannabis plants. You’ll oversee the trimmers and fill in for supervisors when they’re away. You’ve been trained how to run the show, but you also know how to grow a great marijuana plant.
- Bud trimmer: You’re a super-specialized gardener, hand-trimming those plants in order to produce the best buds. You may be responsible for weighing, packaging, and labeling the plants. There may also be a certain quota you’ll be expected to make, and your pay will be based on that. Being a bud trimmer is a great way to step into the cannabis industry; many work their way up from this position. There are no education requirements, but you will need a Marijuana Worker Permit and to be at least 21 years old.
The Best Degrees for the Marijuana Industry
Colleges and trade schools are offering courses and degrees focused on the marijuana industry. You can get anything from a certification to a doctorate, and these programs are offered at real, accredited trade schools, colleges, and universities.
Cannabis: Yes, you can get an actual degree in cannabis by major in medicinal plant chemistry, focusing on marijuana, over at Northern Michigan University. More colleges and universities are adding curriculum and majors to their schools since it’s such a growing industry. There is no easy path; the classes you are going to take are tough.
- Biology: Biology includes the study of plants in botany, genetics, and horticulture. This makes a perfect education track if you’re interested in growing different strains of cannabis for the retail or medicinal marijuana industry.
- Marketing: As more states make marijuana legal, companies are going to be looking for ways to get their name out there. The various forms of marketing are a main way to be seen in print, online, and anywhere potential customers are. Since it’s a growing industry, stake your claim while it’s hot.
- Agriculture: An agribusiness degree is a great fit for you if the plan is to start a cannabis business or work with one already in existence. You’ll learn about technology, law, business, and agriculture, all important aspects of running a cannabis business, as well as a farm.
It’s only a matter of time before weed is legalized in every state. There are many people looking toward different facets of the cannabis industry as a career. This means, it’s going to be a competitive field. So, if you know you want to work in the marijuana industry, then the time to start your training is now.
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