How To Find A Career In Cannabis

How To Find A Career In Cannabis

Knowinghow to find a career in cannabis isn’t that complicated. You just need to have a bit of preparation, like with any other job.

Cannabis legalization has paved the way for the rapid growth of the cannabis industry. Along with the increasing diversity of cannabis products in the market comes the ever-growing number of career opportunities.

As the industry booms, now's the ideal time to explore the various roles it offers. In this article, we'll arm you with practical career tips and strategies to boost your chances of finding a career in the cannabis sector.

How to find a career in cannabis

Here are some foundational tips and strategies to help guide you in finding a career in this dynamic industry:

Learn more about cannabis

If you want a career in cannabis, the first step is to immerse yourself in everything related to the plant, especially if you’re planning to join the retail or sales sector. Start by learning about different cannabis strains, their effects, and the different ways of consumption.

We also recommend staying updated with the latest research and developments in cannabis science. Additionally, knowing the legal landscape — including state-specific regulations — will make you a better candidate and a trusted resource for customers and clients.

You can research cannabis through social media, publicly available scientific papers, forums, and even community events.

Understand the industry

Learning about the different areas of the cannabis industry will give you a better idea of which roles align with your skills and interests. In a broad sense, the cannabis industry can be divided into the following:

  • Cultivation, where the plants are grown;
  • Manufacturing, which involves the production of cannabis products;
  • Distribution, which manages the supply chain; and
  • Retail, where products are sold directly to consumers

Additionally, there are ancillary services that support these sectors, including technology solutions, equipment suppliers, and consulting services.

Each sector requires different skills. For example, a background in agriculture could be beneficial in cultivation, while expertise in business or technology would be advantageous in the distribution sector or ancillary services. Research each segment to help pinpoint where you might excel and focus your job search and skill development accordingly.

Build your network by attending cannabis-related events

Networking is a powerful tool in the cannabis industry, just as it is in any other field. Attending industry events, conferences, and trade shows can open doors to job opportunities and new ventures while connecting you with potential mentors who can guide your career path.

These meetups are a hotbed for insider knowledge and market-shaping trends. You can also take this opportunity to impress potential employers by making a strong impression. Ask questions, exchange contact information, and follow up with your new connections. Alternatively, you can use social media and online cannabis forums to connect with like-minded individuals (and potential employers).

Refine your job search strategies

While general job portals like Indeed or LinkedIn offer plenty of cannabis-related career prospects, you may also want to broaden your search with specialized job boards. Cannabis job sites such as Ganjapreneur, 420JobsBoard, or Careers in Cannabis can list job opportunities not found on more traditional sites.

Additionally, you can look for cannabis companies and check their websites for any job openings. You can also enlist the help of cannabis-related staffing or employment agencies. Networking can also play a crucial role here — sometimes, the best way to find out about job openings is through the people you meet.

Apply for certifications and/or licenses

If you’ve got your eyes set on a specific role, check first if it requires specific certifications or licenses. For instance, budtenders often need a certification proving their knowledge of cannabis products and state laws, while cultivation specialists might require horticultural certificates. Check with regulatory bodies or trusted industry websites for up-to-date information on what’s required in your state or the state you wish to work in.

How to get into the cannabis industry

Whether you're new to the field or looking to shift careers, there are different ways to break into the cannabis industry:

  • Leverage your current skills: Find out your transferable skills and apply it to the cannabis industry. Apply your existing skills to the cannabis industry. Whether you're in marketing, finance, IT, or customer service, there's likely a role for you in cannabis that can benefit from your expertise.
  • Volunteer: If you have no experience whatsoever, volunteering at cannabis advocacy groups or cannabis-related events is a good start. This experience can provide you with invaluable hands-on experience. You also make new connections that could potentially lead to a job offer.
  • Work in a dispensary: Starting as a budtender or in customer service at a dispensary can be a great entry point. This role will help you learn about different cannabis products and customer preferences. It can also be a stepping stone to more specialized roles.
  • Internships: Look for cannabis companies that offer internship programs. Though they might not always be paid, these internship programs can give you valuable industry experience and a way to get your foot in the door.

Types of cannabis careers

The cannabis industry has a lot to offer in terms of career paths. Here are just some of the few cannabis roles you may want to consider:

  • Budtender: Budtenders are essentially the face of the dispensary, as they’re the first to greet the customers and assist them with different cannabis products. For this role, you need strong communication skills and a deep knowledge of the products you sell. Most dispensaries require that budtenders have at least a basic certification in cannabis knowledge.
  • Retail salesperson: Similar to budtenders, retail salespersons focus on the customer service aspect of cannabis sales. They help manage the storefront, track inventory, and ensure compliance with state regulations. Good salespeople are knowledgeable, personable, and highly attentive to compliance details.
  • Marijuana grower: Growers are responsible for cultivating the various strains of cannabis, from planting to harvesting. If you’re considering this path, you need to have a strong understanding of plant science, controlled environment agriculture, and, sometimes, a background or familiarity with horticulture.
  • Quality assurance (QA) specialist: QA specialists in the cannabis industry make sure that each product meets health, safety, and potency standards. Specialists test samples in labs, document results, and help navigate the regulatory requirements for cannabis products. This role requires a scientific background and a keen attention to detail.
  • Extraction technician: Extraction technicians are responsible for the processes that convert cannabis plant material into oils and other concentrates. This role usually requires a background in chemistry or a related field, as it involves handling complex machinery and potentially hazardous chemicals.

There are many more roles out there, so it’s best to do deep research on the different sectors of the industry.

Frequently asked questions

What job in the cannabis industry makes the most money?

According toForbes, cannabis sales managers manage to pull the most money, with an average salary of $113,660 (as of 2024). This is because they play a critical role in generating revenue and expanding the business's market presence. Their role requires a combination of strong leadership skills, deep industry knowledge, and effective communication abilities.

Are cannabis degrees legit?

Yes, cannabis degrees are legitimate and increasingly popular as the marijuana industry expands due to growing legalization. Colleges across the U.S. are beginning to offer specialized cannabis programs that focus on various aspects of the industry, including botany, business, and law. 

Is cannabis a major in college?

Yes, cannabis is now a major in some colleges across the U.S. For example, Cal Poly Humboldt and Roanoke College both offer degrees in Cannabis Studies. LIM College offers a degree in the Business of Cannabis. These programs provide comprehensive education in cannabis science, business, and policy, reflecting the industry's growth and the need for educated professionals.

How to get a job as a budtender?

To become a budtender, you first need to have a good understanding of cannabis products and their effects. You also need strong customer service skills and a passion for cannabis are essential to succeed in this role. Obtaining a certification in cannabis sales or attending training specific to cannabis retail can be very beneficial. Start by applying for entry-level positions in dispensaries to gain experience in the environment, even if it's not initially as a budtender. 

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