The marijuana industry is growing quickly and just as quickly gaining wider societal acceptance. As such, more people are looking at the cannabis industry as a career choice. Some of the jobs are little out of the ordinary, but that’s probably what draws many workers interested in cannabis jobs. Whether they worked with marijuana in the black market or just want an alternative to the standard cubicle job, thousands are trying to get in.
There are websites with cannabis job listings like Cannajobs and 420careers. Medical marijuana delivery company GreenRush held a job fair in California in April; 2,700 people attended and 200 jobs were filled. Another event is planned for November 10.
Cannabis company Terra Tech Corp. recently held a job fair in Las Vegas. They ran a quarter page ad and expected about 200 people to show up. They got 2,000 instead. “Most people just want to get into the space,” said CEO Derek Peterson. “They believe in the product.” Peterson said a lot of people came without any experience and since the jobs are unique, they tried to pair existing skills with new job requirements.
He also noted that a lot of people in the 40-50 age group have been aged out of the traditional workforce. “Almost everyone had a bachelor’s degree that we saw,” he said. While some positions like store managers overlap more traditional jobs, others like bud trimmers are truly unique to the space. Here are the top five jobs in the marijuana industry.
The grow master is the person responsible for cultivating various strains of marijuana plants. Peterson likens it to being a master chef. Grow masters are in high demand and it’s a seller’s market. At minimum they can command a salary of $100,000 a year and a percentage of the profit. Peterson said that for the time being all the good cultivators come from California. They’ve had more time to develop their skills and reputation. They are used to working on their own and making great wages. “It’s a pretty specific skill set and over time I expect the recreational marijuana will shape up with celebrity cultivators like celebrity chefs,” said Peterson. He also thinks that as more states legalize marijuana, California won’t be the only place to find a master grower.
Like any retail operation, a medical dispensary or recreational outlet needs a manager. These employees can do very well, especially in profitable stores. At minimum, they can earn $75,000 a year and many get a bonus on top of that based on the store’s sales. When you consider that some stores in California have sales of $3 million to $6 million a year, while some San Francsico Bay area stores do $7 million to $10 million a year, that bonus can be pretty good. Many get vacation pay and health insurance just like a traditional job. Managers can also climb the green ladder and end up overseeing several locations.
Most people only think of marijuana in the plant form, however marijuana extracts are a growing side of the business, amounting to 40% of sales at some stores. These “extract artists” have a unique set of skills. Peterson said many of the people he hires for this job have PhD’s. They can earn between $75,000 and $125,000 a year. Some states don’t like the idea of people smoking pot for medical purposes and like the state of New York have only legalized medical marijuana in the extract form. While there are expensive machines that do the actual extraction, it requires a person with the knowledge and experience to make sure the product being delivered to a patient or customer is exactly what it is. Consistency and quality are the name of the game.
This is the entry level job working with the plant. It tends to be the lowest paid job in the industry — a bud trimmer in California may make $12-$13 an hour. In Vegas where service jobs are in high demand, $13 an hour is the general wage. Some get paid by the pound and that can run to $100-$200 a pound. In a medical dispensary, a trimmer takes the plant and with little scissors cuts the flower from the stem. It’s critical to only get what is needed and not waste any of the plant. Everything is separated and weighed. A tedious job for sure, but it beats working at McDonald’s, and it’s an opportunity to get in on the ground floor of the business and work your way up.
While owning a marijuana business sounds like the ultimate counterculture move, it brings a mountain of headaches. Many owners say they don’t make the millions that many people think they do. There are legal and banking headaches, and the regulatory landscape is constantly shifting. The owners don’t get to claim the same business deductions that other business owners get, so the expenses are sky high. Many owners front millions of dollars for years before they ever get to see any profits. Still, if you think this industry is in its early stages with years of growth ahead, being an owner can still be a sweet alternative to the grind of a normal job.