How to Get a Job in the Marijuana Industry

Tony the Editor-in-Chief at THCoverdose.com sent me this piece and several shorter ones that showcase Cannabis jobs and how to get them.   The article is informative and provides helpful tips and ideas about landing jobs in the cannabis industry.  Enjoy!

Imagine getting to work in the marijuana industry. It’s a new industry that still needs its pioneers. The possibilities are endless, and best of all, it’s in the freakin’ marijuana industry!

Today, we’re going to show you how to get a job in the marijuana industry. And where did we get our information?  Straight from the mouths of the people in charge of hiring at various harvesting companies, dispensaries and even some people in the smoking accessories space. Whatever you want to do in the marijuana industry, this guide will teach you what you need to do to get the job.

How Can Someone Improve Their Chances of Getting a Job in the Marijuana Industry?

When doing our research, we asked companies that are at ground zero of the legal marijuana boom one simple question: How can someone improve their chance at getting a job in the marijuana industry?

Once you get your foot in the door, the growth potential is amazing. The market is projected to be $30 billion by 2021, with no signs of slowing its growth. The money is there. The jobs are there. The only problem? Actually getting your feet in the door.

Because of this phenomenal growth, and the massive amounts of money floating around, the marijuana space is starting to attract top talent. Growing marijuana for a living is everyone’s dream job, but what do you put on your resume? That you’ve been growing in your closet the past ten years? Probably not.

Before you start your journey to working in this cannabis space, you need to think about why you want to do. The jobs are demanding, and, depending on the job you want, may require you to devote a lot of time to studying cannabis. Master grower, extraction technician and even chef all require precision and years of hard work to master. The cannabis industry is for the ambitious and the talented. If you think you have what it takes, keep reading to find out how you can get your chance.

Brief History of the Cannabis Job Market

The beginning of the 106-year prohibition of marijuana all started with Massachusetts requiring a prescription to get marijuana. And then in 1937 when the passing of the Marijuana Tax Act made cannabis illegal at a federal level. Since then we’ve hit major milestones on the path to winning our cannabis back.

In 1973 Oregon first decriminalized possession, and then again in 1996 when California Prop 215 first made marijuana legal again in the United States. One by one states are starting to follow California’s lead in legalizing medicinal marijuana, and this brought its fair share of jobs. It wasn’t until 2012, however, when both Colorado and Washington both legalized cannabis for recreational use, that the job market exploded. 2015 brought 18,000 jobs to Colorado alone. And as of today, in total, the marijuana industry has created an estimated 123,000 jobs! Plus, with more and more states legalizing cannabis on a recreational level, that number is projected to hit 283,422 jobs by 2020.

Does the Pay Reflect the Market Size?

Of course, we all want to work with cannabis. It’s something we love and strongly believe in. Plus, cannabis culture is filled with positive vibes and people trying to make the world a better place. But, at the end of the day, rent is due on the 1st of the month, every month. So, how good is the pay in the marijuana industry? Let’s take a look at some of the most popular jobs in the industry and how their salaries play out.

Grow Master

You can’t think about working with cannabis without wanting to grow it! And, while you don’t start off as a grow master, this should ultimately be your end goal if you want to grow cannabis. We’ll get into the duties of a grower, as well as how to get a job growing, in just a bit. Moneywise, though, you can expect to make over $100,000 per year plus a cut of the profits.

Store Managers

Managing a store (head shop or dispensary) is a good way to take job skills from another job sector into the marijuana industry Since not a lot of other skills transfer over, if your resume demands it, you can manage a store and command $75,000 a year plus bonuses. Sure, it all depends on the sales of your store, but with business continuing to increase a good manager will be worth more and more.

Dispensary Owner

Now, this isn’t for the faint of heart. If you’re an adventurous entrepreneur that wants in the space, this is one route you can go. With some stores doing $20+ million in sales annually you can make some good change being at the top of the food chain. Be prepared, however, to face struggles with storing money, jumping through red tape and the threat of a federal crackdown.

Extraction Technician

Extracts have BLOWN UP in the past few years. For good reason, they rock. With the demand for them increasing, so is the demand for extraction technicians. This isn’t the easiest job to get, however.

To be looked at on this side of the business, your schooling is going to need to back you up. A lot of these techs have Ph.D.’s in chemistry, and it involves a lot of lab work, but you can expect to earth $75,000 to $125,000 per year.

 Bud Trimmers

If you have no experience, but really want to get your hands on the bud, this is your best bet.

Usually, an entry-level position that can lead to better-paying jobs like a grower, bud trimmers earn $12-18 per hour. You can read more on bud trimmer salaries here.

Bud Tenders

Another entry-level position, however, it is ultra-competitive. To land a job as a budtender, you need to really study your strains, know the effects they have and what they are suggested to treat. Your job is to help the consumer land on the perfect cannabis for their situation. You can expect anywhere from 31,200 to $42,000 per year as a budtender.

Edibles Chefs

Love cooking? If so, combine your love of cannabis with cooking, and you can make some damn good money. It’s not as simple as just cooking, though. You are expected to make good tasting edibles while also maintaining perfect dosing amounts. The casual cook can use our cannabis cooking calculator found here, but a profession edibles chief will have to lab test everything. They make $50,000-$100,000 per year depending on your experience and talent.

The List Goes On and On

There are more jobs in the space then you think. We need accountants, lawyers, doctors, sales reps and marketers. There’s glassblowing, working in head shops and online headshop warehouses. If you fancy yourself a writer, you can even get paid to write about cannabis by publishing companies like THCoverdose. Remember, you don’t just have to have your hands on the buds to carve yourself a niche in the marijuana industry.

 

What Does It Take To Be An Executive In The Legal Cannabis Industry?

It is no secret that there are enormous sums of money to be made in the legal cannabis business. Not surprisingly, compensation packages for the executives who run profitable cannabis-based business are also likely to be large. That said, because cannabis and its products are illegal in the US, the talent pool is relatively shallow for executives with previous cannabis experience. Consequently, most new cannabis executives are likely to be recruited from other industries including pharmaceuticals, agribusiness, consumer healthcare and tobacco.  This is because, like the cannabis industry, these industries are highly regulated and will be under intense scrutiny from state and even federal agencies.

Gilbert J. Carrara Jr, MD, who oversees retain recruiting services at Battalia Winston International, recently described the skills sets and characteristics that he believes will be required for successful cannabis industry executive. They include:

Tough Mindedness

Because of the state-to-state complexity of cannabis legislation and negative perceptions surrounding cannabis use, executives in this industry cannot be thin-skinned or easily discouraged. If a person cannot accept repeatedly being told “no” or “go away” then he/she is not likely to be executive material in the legal cannabis industry.

Flexibility

The legal cannabis industry is in its infancy and it will continue to evolve and grow in wildly unpredictable and unanticipated ways. At present, change is the norm in the cannabis industry executive who are flexible, can pivot on a dime and remain open to sometimes new unconventional ideas on a regular basis will do just fine.

Adaptability

Like executives in other industries, cannabis industry executives must be adaptable because they will be required to communicate with a diverse group of stakeholders. That said, cannabis executives must be comfortable discussing scientific and medical topics with government and healthcare officials and equally as comfortable addressing business concerns with consumers.

Passion & Drive

Unlike other industries, simply having a resume with the requisite college degree and executive skill sets may not be sufficient for success in the cannabis industry. Because cannabis and its products are not legal at the Federal level in the US, the road ahead for cannabis executives is likely to be a long and very rocky one. To that point, the success of the industry will likely depend upon executives who have the desire and passion to continue to push things forward even when the likelihood of success is not certain.

As a former professional recruiter, I can tell you that finding a qualified “right fit” candidate at the technical or executive levels is never an easy task. And a limited talent pool does not make things any easier.  But, even though the existing executive talent pool may not be a great one, cannabis industry executives are needed; so choose wisely!

 

 

The Number of Legal Cannabis Jobs in the US Grew Over 20% Last Year

While the data are difficult to come by, a recent survey by Leafly (1) determined that the number of legal fulltime Cannabis jobs in the US grew from 122,814 job in 2016 to roughly 149,304 in 2017; a gain of 22%. Of course, not all of these jobs are directly related to Cannabis cultivation and production. These estimates include electricians, plumbers, greenhouse builders, insurance brokers, software developers, realtors and bankers.

Not surprisingly, the growth of legal US Cannabis jobs was not uniform throughout the country (8 states and the District of Columbia have legalized recreational adult Cannabis use and medical Cannabis and 23 medical Cannabis only).

Among the recreational use states, Alaska exhibited the greatest job increases (252%), followed by Maine (100%), and Nevada.  Florida (1,743 %) and Hawaii (1,692%) were the clear leaders in the medical cannabis states. It is important to note that percentages can be deceiving because they don’t represent raw job numbers. For example, if Nevada had 2 full time Cannabis jobs in 2016 and 4 in 2017 that would represent a 50% annual increase. To that point, the actual 2017 job leaders in the recreational use states are California (47,711), Colorado (26, 891), Washington State (26,556) and Oregon (10,843). Likewise, medical cannabis state job leaders in 2017 were Michigan (12,515), Arizona (6,520), Illinois (1,352) and New York (1,341).

Because of legal and political ramifications, the actual number of jobs in the US Cannabis industry is very difficult to quantify. That said, the number of full time jobs is certain to rise as the industry continues to mature in recreational use states.  Likewise, as more research and information about the therapeutic use of Cannabis become available (and mainstream physicians buy into these effects), the number of jobs in the medical cannabis will also grow. However, the 22% increase in the number of fulltime cannabis jobs over the past year suggests that the industry continues to remain strong despite an uncertain political and legal future.

References

  1. https://www.leafly.com/news/politics/cannabis-jobs-count-legal-marijuana-supports-149304-americans?mc_cid=071453b259&mc_eid=510390e56d Accessed September 13, 2017

Cannabis Testing Services: A New Alternative Career Opportunity For Life Scientists

Increased use of medical cannabis, coupled with a growing trend to legalize cannabis for recreational use, has created a niche for companies that offer analytical cannabis testing services.  Not surprisingly, the cannabis testing market is dominated by North American companies with an annual market size of roughly $822 million in 2016 (1).  The size of this market is expected to reach approximately $1.4 billion by 2021 (1).

Typical services offered by cannabis testing companies include:

  • Potency testing
  • Terpene profiling
  • Pesticide screening
  • Residual solvent screening
  • Heavy metal testing
  • Genetic testing
  • Microbial analysis

Most of these analyses involve the use of standard laboratory instruments (and related software packages including 1) liquid chromatography (LC), 2) gas chromatography (GC), 3) mass spectrometry, 4) atomic spectroscopy and 5) automated DNA sequencing/genomic analyses.

While the analytical services offered by these companies may sound esoteric to  lay cannabis audiences, they are very familiar to life scientists with backgrounds in biochemistry, organic chemistry, molecular biology, pharmacology, botany, plant pathology and a host of other life science disciplines.  That said, the rapid growth of the cannabis testing industry has created job opportunities  for life scientists who are trained and skilled in the above mentioned analytical methods.

Industry leaders in cannabis analytical services  who may be looking to hire new employees can be divided into two distinct categories; companies that develop hardware and software to conduct the analyses and companies that actually provide analytical services to clients.  Companies involved in hardware and software development  include:

  1. Agilent Technologies Inc (hardware/software)
  2. Shimadzu Corporation (hardware/software)
  3. PerkinElmer, Inc (hardware/software)
  4. Millipore Sigma (hardware/software)
  5. AB Sciex LLC (hardware/software),
  6. Waters Corporation (hardware/software)
  7. Restek Corporation (hardware/software)

Leading companies that offer analytical services to clients include:

  1. Accelerated Technologies Laboratories Inc (hardware/software)
  2. LabLynx Inc. (hardware/software)
  3. Steep Hill Labs, Inc (analysis)
  4. CannaSafe Analytics (analysis)
  5. Pharm Labs LLC (analysis)
  6. Digipath Labs, Inc (analysis)

Because  the number of traditional life sciences job continue to decline and remain highly competitive, now may be a good time for entry level life life scientists to consider a career shift to the cannabis testing services market. However, do not wait or linger.  This market, like the traditional life sciences job market may be quickly  over subscribed!

References

  1. Cannabis testing market expect to reach $1.4 billion by 2021. http://www.marketsandmarkets.com/PressReleases/cannabis-testing.asp Accessed August 7, 2017

Finding a Science Job in the Cannabis Industry

According to a recent report by the Cannabis website Leafly, America’s legal cannabis industry now supports more than 122,000 full-time jobs in 29 States and Washington DC. I

A recent article by Bruce Barcott entitled “How to Find a Job in the Cannabis Industry” offers some insights on the types of jobs that are available and how to land one.

He offered, like most industries the best way to land a job in the Cannabis industry is to network yourself into one. Also, working with a recruiting firm can be helpful.  Interestingly, recruiting firms and staffing companies that specialize in Cannabis jobs are popping up daily in many states where medical and recreational Cannabis are legal. However, before you take the plunge it is important to educate yourself to determine what is out there and whether or not you are a good fit for a Cannabis career.

So what do we know?  Most of the open jobs are in the Western states, California, Colorado, Oregon, Washington, Nevada and Arizona with a growing presence in Minnesota and Massachusetts. There are a smattering of jobs emerging in New York, Connecticut, Maryland  and Washington DC.  While 40 percent of open positions are specific to the Cannabis industry, roughly 60 are jobs that exist in other industries such as executive assistants, human resources specialists retail operations directors bookkeepers and staff accountants.That said, there are a number of Cannabis business operators who are looking for pharmaceutical sales representatives, or in horticulturalists from large commercial plant growing operations.

So question is: are there are any jobs in the Cannabis for the average Bio Job Blog reader?  The answer is YES!!!!!!  Here are a few examples: Laboratory chemist, operations manager, analytical chemist/production manager, software developer, food productions manager, and my favorite professional joint roller.  Of course there will be many more opportunities as the industry continues to grow (pun intended). That said, relocation is likely required but then again if you are qualified and possess the skills the company may offer a relocation package.  There is a ton of money being made in the industry!

Science Job Opportunities Exist in the Cannabis Industry

According to a recent article, the 2013 to 2014 US market for legal Cannabis (medical and recreational) grew 74% from $1.3 billion to $2.7 billion. Industry analysts predict that the legal marijuana industry is (and will continue to be) the fastest-growing industry in the US over the next 5 years with annual revenues topping $11 billion by 2020.  And, as the industry grows so will employment opportunities.

At present, salaries associated with various job functions in the Cannabis industry range from $50,000 to $90,000. As many businesses that support the Cannabis industry continue to grow, the competition for qualified employed will intensify and salaries will concomitantly rise. Currently,, there aren’t enough trained job candidates to fill the many job openings at Cannabis companies. I am sure that many of you who hold graduate degrees in the life sciences are wondering why I am pitching jobs in the Cannabis industry.

First, traditional jobs for PhD-trained life scientist are getting scarcer and the election of Donald Trump suggests that this trend will not be reversed anytime soon.

Second, consider that growing and cultivating marijuana and extracting cannabinoids (the pharmaceutically active molecules in Cannabis buds) require a background in laboratory methods, chemistry, biology and in some cases plant science. For those of you who may not know, the medical Cannabis market is focusing almost exclusively on cannabis extracts and vaporization of these extracts (rather than smoking) is the preferred delivery methods. This suggests that those of you with backgrounds in biomedical engineering and medical devices  can leverage your expertise and skills to obtain jobs in the delivery side of the cannabis industry.  

Third, the expansive growth and sheer economic size of the Cannabis industry suggests that other jobs that require a life science background are likely to emerge. These include quality control/assurance jobs for strain identification, diagnostic jobs to determine THC levels/intoxication, molecular biology and bioinformatic jobs to continue to explore and unlike therapeutically relevant molecules from the Cannabis genome and synthetic biology jobs to increase cannabinoid yields and reduce production costs. Finally, there is currently a dearth of qualified job candidates with scientific backgrounds to fill entry level grow and extraction jobs in the Cannabis industry.

At present, the industry is mainly dominated by long time Cannabis growers, people who use marijuana on a regular basis and some moxy business people/investors who see an an enormous upside for the Cannabis industry.

Put simply, now is the time to get in on the ground floor of an industry that is exploding and will ultimately become a legal multibillion dollar a year industry. While I’m sure that neither you nor your parents/family envisioned a career in Cannabis, the jobs are there and ripe for the picking (pun intended).