Despite its rocky beginnings and complicated legal status, the growth of cannabis as an industry is continuing to accelerate. Estimated to reach a revenue value of around $40 billion over the next 12 months, legalized cannabis production represents a major contributor to the US economy, as well as the present job market: in 2022 alone, more than 400 thousand cannabis jobs made their American debut.

Whatever your field, a career in cannabis can prove lucrative – whether or not you’re one of the 5 in 10 Americans who partake. But what exactly does working in cannabis entail, and how do you get started? Let’s talk about it.

What are the different types of cannabis jobs?

Modern cannabis companies offer a variety of both familiar and industry-specific job opportunities at all levels. Generally, these can be split into two categories:

  • Plant-contact positions involve working directly with the product, such as in cultivation, retail, ect.
  • Auxiliary positions focus on organizational operations, including marketing, web programming, etc.

Let’s take a closer look at some of the more popular positions available today in the cannabis industry.

Plant contact roles include:

  • Bud-tending. “Bud-tender” is a familiar industry term for retail and sales associates working in customer-facing positions at brick-and-mortar dispensaries. Bud tenders help customers to find the right products to meet their needs, and must be knowledgeable about different varieties of cannabis and their uses and effects.

    Average salary: $30,000
  • Store management. As a growing industry, there’s lots of room for advancement and career mobility in cannabis. Dedicated and knowledgeable retail associates can work their way into a managerial role if they are willing to put in the time and effort.

    Average salary: $44,000
  • Delivery. Delivery services are wildly popular these days, not to mention critical points of access for people with limited mobility. Medical and recreational cannabis delivery drivers provide essential services for those consumers who can’t (or would rather not) take a trip to the dispensary to pick up their favorite products.

    Average salary: $33,500
  • Cultivation. Like any agricultural crop, the survival of the cannabis industry is dependent on its growers. Nationally there exist a variety of both large and small-scale growing operations requiring skilled and dedicated workers to help coax the plant from seed and into its final harvestable form. Licensed growers also create other seasonal jobs for trimmers, harvesters, and packers.

    Average salary: $50,000
  • Laboratory. The rising popularity of edibles, cannabis vaporizers, and other non-flower methods of consuming and using both THC and CBD cannabis products requires the expertise of chemists and other lab-competent scientists to extract the active components of the whole plant for use in a variety of products. Chemists and lab managers are at the higher-end of this earning scale.

    Average salary: $75,500

Here are a few common auxiliary positions available in cannabis:

  • Accounting. As a regulated industry, cannabis businesses are subject to different tax laws than most other organizations. Therefore any company with cannabis as its primary product will require the help of financial experts who are aware of these laws and understand how to navigate them when doing the business’ books.

    Average salary: $54,600
  • Marketing. As in any other industry, cannabis businesses need skilled marketers to help spread the word and accelerate company growth. Per regulations, however,  legal stipulations apply which limit what can and cannot be said about certain cannabis products. A good marketer working at any level in the cannabis industry must be able to build and support high-quality campaigns while still adhering to these laws.

    Average salary: $45,500
  • Product consultant. Product consultants are market-savvy advisors that help retail cannabis organizations know which products to stock to get the most out of their sales. This is a non-contact position which nonetheless requires individuals to have in-depth knowledge of a variety of cannabis products, including which ones are likely to sell. This role is a great goal for product-passionate new bud tenders to set for themselves.

    Average salary: $83,000

These are just a few of the myriad roles which are popping up every day. Later in the article, we’ll talk about where and how to look to find a dream job that plays to your skills set in the cannabis industry.

How to get hired with cannabis companies

Success in any position in the cannabis industry requires specific knowledge of and appreciation for the product, even in entry-level positions. You don’t always need to be an expert, but you do need to know what you’re talking about. Luckily, this information is readily available through a variety of reputable sources online – having a basic knowledge of various cannabis products and strains will allow you to do well in a customer-facing role.

Starting out as a bud-tender or other front-line product worker can set you on a career path towards higher-level positions. It’s also a great way to build a better understanding of all aspects of the industry including product knowledge, as well as compliance laws, sales tactics, and other critical skills.

From here, you might engage in specialized educational pathways that will move you closer to career-level work. Holding a business degree, an accounting certification, marketing degree, etc. alongside your knowledge of and experience with cannabis will help you stand out from other applications.

Consider your career goals, both long and short-term. Where are you now, and where do you want to be? What will it take to get you there? This will give you a good platform from which you can build any skills and knowledge caches which might be missing.

What to know when applying for a job in cannabis

Most jobs in the cannabis industry, whether or not they actually come in contact with the substance itself, are subject to compliance measures set by regulatory laws.

For example, some states where cannabis has been legalized require budtenders to hold a special license before they are able to work. 

If you are already a career path professional who’s looking to break into the world of cannabis, it is likely you will need to build some industry-specific knowledge or earn special certification or licensing which will qualify you to work in the industry. 

And of course, cannabis is not legal in every state within the US. If you live in one where cannabis products are legally sold, check out your state’s cannabis information sites to find out more about specific licensing laws.

Why work in cannabis

As we mentioned in the introduction, cannabis is a fast-growing industry that’s quickly overcoming many of the former legal limitations which were holding the industry in stasis for so long. There is extraordinary room for advancement in many fields within the industry, meaning individuals with all different kinds of skill sets can find lucrative and fulfilling work, whatever they have to offer.

Where to look for cannabis jobs

In states where cannabis is legal, job seekers can find available cannabis positions in the same places they might find other jobs, including Indeed.Com, LinkedIn, and other employment websites.

You can also take a look at some of your favorite cannabis companies to see if they’re hiring, or get a better sense of what they’re looking for in candidates to help you spruce up your resume.

Come check out Happy Travelers

Want to learn more about the many delights the cannabis industry has to offer? Book a tour with Happy Travelers! Nestled in the heart of California’s wine country, our tours give you a taste of all the industry has to offer, so you can learn about cannabis and cannabis products through luxurious experience. 

 Book a Happy Travelers Tours Cannabis Experience today!