Job postings for cannabis-related careers increased by 445 percent in 2017, compared to just 18 percent in 2016.
Because the industry is still relatively new, many people may second guess a cannabis career move — which appears to be intensifying the demand for talent to fill this explosively growing job category.
Pot Jobs Are Here to Stay
The most concerning part about making a large career move like this is deciding whether or not the industry will last in its legalized form. But so far, there don’t appear to be signs that cannabis will slow down any time soon.
As of this writing, 29 U.S. states have passed legislation that legalizing medicinal marijuana in one form or another (see the map below for details). Additionally, recreational pot is legal in Alaska, California, Colorado, Nevada, Oregon, and Washington. Starting July 1, 2018, you’ll be able to purchase marijuana at retail locations in Massachusetts.
With these states having legal recreational marijuana and more adding the issue of legalization to ballots, legal sales stand to double in 2018, potentially reaching $10 billion in revenues by the end of the year.
On top of that, states are generating hundreds of millions of dollars in tax revenue from pot sales, making it unlikely the industry might disappear anytime soon. In fact, cannabis careers are already outpacing the growth of even healthcare and tech openings.
Smokin’ Career Options
The growth is evident in the employment listings on Monster.com, where you can see more than a half dozen different job titles in the cannabis industry. Below are some of the career tracks you might toke — er, make that take.
Not bartenders, budtenders — they’re the folks you see at dispensaries that deal with customers one on one. They guide individuals through the buying process and finding the product that will suit them best. This requires working knowledge of the product and the ability to provide good customer service. A beginner’s hourly rate averages at $11 to $12 an hour. Salaried budtenders make between $31,200 to $42,000 per year.
States that have regulated recreational use have sent a number of cease-and-desist letter to illegal operators. These states need compliance experts to identify businesses operating illegally. These individuals may also have the responsibility for providing information about how the business can become compliant with the state’s laws — in some cases, employers might prefer candidates with law degrees. These jobs can pay up to $122,000 per year.
Dispensary managers oversee the day-to-day operations of cannabis shops. Managers deal with customer service, law enforcement, inventory management, and returns. They are also responsible for hiring and training other team members. Most stores want a bachelor’s degree for this, but a high school diploma or GED may suffice. The average salary of a dispensary manager is anywhere from $60,000 to $150,000 per year, depending on experience.
An edibles chef does exactly what it sounds like: they bake cannabis into sweets and other things you can eat. These positions usually require a background in baking as well as cannabis knowledge. This includes knowing state and local marijuana codes. Chefs make between $40,000 and $90,000 a year.
Although these are essentially the inverse of job openings, these opportunities can appear among the ads for employment in the cannabis industry. Since many of the companies operating in this industry are startups, investors are in demand. Although investing in a startup like this can be risky, the flip side of that risk might entail significant upside growth — especially if the company subsequently goes public. Be sure to do lots of research before committing to any investment within this industry.
If you are an advocate for legalization, you may want to consider a job with a marijuana lobbyist groups. In many cases, this is hourly temp work but some organizations need leadership roles filled. This position doesn’t stand to make a ton of cash but if you are passionate about the cause, you can make a difference.
Believe it or not, in some areas of the U.S., there are already more cannabis dispensaries than Starbucks. Many of these business owners need marketing strategists to make sure their facilities remain appealing compared to the competition. As such, pay rates might depend on demand and experience.
Patient care coordinators do many of the same tasks as budtenders, only in medicinal marijuana settings. These individuals work with people who have medical cards, to help them find a suitable strain for their ailments. In many cases, these are hourly positions with pay starting around $12 per hour.
As mentioned above, many of the pot businesses are startups that could use some help making their small businesses tech savvy. Many will be looking for developers to help create apps, websites, and point-of-sale software — for both full-time work and consulting or contracting roles. People who toke on — er, make that take on — these roles full time can make up to $130,000 per year.
Career Limiting Move or Door Opener?
As the list of pot jobs above suggests, the industry appears to have just enough momentum to assuage concerns about the potential for career enhancement.
It’s possible that the progress that legalization has made may have already removed enough of the stigma associated with marijuana for these roles to not become something that might pigeonhole you within the same industry.
However, whether that proves true for everyone who ventures into this field remains to be seen, since pot jobs are still a relatively new phenomenon compared to other types of careers.
Readers, have you considered a career in one of the fastest growing industries in the country?
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