Job Seeker’s Dilemma – How to Enter the Cannabis Job Industry

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This is a very exciting time for anyone involved in the cannabis industry.

In 2017, the worldwide legal marijuana trade grew by 37% and was worth $9.5 billion. The US accounted for 90% of this $8.5 billion valuation.[i] By 2025, it is predicted to grow to $24.1 billion with $13.2 billion being used for medical use.[ii]

This is supported by the growing trend across many states to legalize cannabis.  The general perception of cannabis has changed since the start of the millennium. In 2000, only 31% supported legalization. In 2018, 6 in ten Americans say that the use of cannabis should be legalized.[iii]

It may be no surprise that it is the millennial Democrat that is most likely to support legalization. Republicans, meanwhile, are divided with only 45% in favor and 51% opposing. The “Silent Generation” is least likely to agree with legalization.

Nevertheless, the industry is set to boom, and you may want to be involved in the world of legal cannabis. Regardless of past stereotypes, the legal cannabis industry is a real industry. Just as being alcoholic doesn’t mean you’ll succeed in the alcohol industry – in fact, it is more likely you will fail – the same applies to legal cannabis.

Some “Smokin” hot positions

As per the growth mentioned above, there is real money to be made in the cannabis industry. Here are a few examples of jobs you can find:

Head / Master Grower.

This is the person responsible for managing the growth of cannabis. They coordinate the daily operations including sourcing, cloning, transplanting, and providing nutrients for the marijuana plants, setting up and maintaining environmental controls, and a pest-free environment. With additional responsibilities of potting, transfers, watering, mixing, harvesting, and cleaning. As Head Grower, there is also a responsibility to train other employees and assign them appropriate work.

Budtender/Dispensary Tech

Imagine a bartender that sells cannabis. They are a natural salesperson, experts in terminology, and know their products well in order to make the right recommendation to customers. With cannabis, they must be extremely great at educating the customer on their choices. Other duties include ensuring the store is well presented and stock is maintained.

Marketing – Brand Ambassadors, Marketing Managers, and Directors

Just like in any other industry, it is the role of the marketer to support the sales department, promote the brand, and encourage sales of cannabis. This can include community management, public relations, setting strategies to market, online and social media outreach campaigns, paid ads, analytics, attending trade shows, and producing reports.

Trimmer/Cultivation Site Worker

The main role of the trimmer is to trim, manicure, and prepare cannabis products for sales in accordance with the company’s policies. In addition, they must ensure the sanitation policies are well adhered to and follow the approved procedures for preparing and storing the cannabis.

There are many other types of jobs in the cannabis industry. Some are specific, such as Trimmer and Head Grower, but others are vital to any business. Roles such as marketing, administration, and finance should come to mind.

There are also C-Level and Manager positions to consider:

VP of Sales

The Vice President of Sales is the primary person developing and executing the sales strategy. They are responsible for the sales team and providing incentive programs alongside training them. In addition, they must report to the Board with sales reports, forecasts, and budgets.

Lab Manufacturing Manager

As Lab Manufacturing Manager, this person is responsible for all types of extraction. They also ensure the organization, cleanliness, and efficiency of the production area is kept up to scratch. Day to day tasks include prepping, extracting, and packaging the cannabis, whilst monitoring and maintaining the lab in accordance with company, GMP (Good Manufacturing Practices) and GLP (Good Laboratory Practice) standards. Managers oversee daily operations and production processes related to the extraction of compounds from the cannabis plants to be further refined into company products. It requires an expert in plant extraction, purification and chemical separation techniques to produce the highest quality cannabis extracts and concentrates.

Chief Financial Officer (CFO)

Finance is what drives any business and this person is responsible for managing that aspect is the CFO. They build the financial systems, software, and reporting for the company whilst developing strategic and tactical recommendations. Analysis is a key skill needed for this role as most tasks include looking at data and estimating costs and growth.

Many others

This is a growing industry and opportunities are everywhere!

There are plenty of other types of jobs available in the industry ranging from security, compliance, quality control to dispensary managers, cultivation, and production. A simple internet search will show you the full possibilities awaiting for you.

To enter the industry, you are going to need knowledge of state laws and certificates. First, make sure that the state you want to work in permits cannabis use. Again, the extent of use can vary from a complete ban to medicinal to dispensary use. This guide[iv] by Thompson Coburn LLP is great for finding out the current stance on cannabis state-by-state. For example, California is the most favorable with licenses for “adult use, medical use, types of cultivation and manufacture, retailor or distributor, testing, and microbusiness”.

Following that, you’ll want to ensure you have the correct certificates for each state. It’s worth checking out with your local government office before proceeding.

There are certificates that are legal and acknowledged across all 50 states. offers “a complete curriculum that covers ALL areas of the industry”. This would be particularly good for someone who is unsure where they want to work in the industry or for someone looking for a broad, general knowledge. Again, checking with your local government will help clarify exactly what you need.

After getting the appropriate certificates and licenses, you will be ready to apply for jobs in the industry. You may not have direct experience in cannabis, but with the industry being so new that is acceptable.

Jobseekers must rely on their transferable skills to enter the industry. Key skills include leadership, motivation, time management, communication, and presentation. This really opens opportunities for seekers in other industries such as hospitality, retail, and administration. More technical skills are required for some jobs however, such as analytics, scientific research, IT, and mechanical experience.

No matter what background you come from, a huge passion for cannabis is required. Not in the sense of consuming it every day since you could get your hands on it, but you must demonstrate your knowledge and interest in it. For example, I recommend picking up a book from Amazon about cannabis. Learn about the different strains and different recipes you can create. If your state allows it, grow some cannabis of your own. As Joshua Cartagenova from Calyx Staffing says:

“You can have all the skills in the world, but if you don’t care about cannabis, the industry is not for you. Passion is what drives us to succeed in the industry and you can’t train someone to have passion!”

After applying for a few roles, you will hopefully get invited to interview. Interview preparation can make and break your chances of success. Beyond your resume, it is the first time the employer will meet you face-to-face.

First impressions are everything. People decide if they like you in seconds and it is very hard to change their mind afterward. So, how do we prepare for an interview in the cannabis industry?

You prepare for it just like any other industry. All the necessary preparations are transferable from one to another. Let’s look at some of them:

Researching the business beforehand can help you go a long way. It shows your interest in the business you’re interviewing for and shows your keen to work for them. Imagine it like a romantic date. If you show no interest in the other person, you’re hardly going to succeed as a couple.

Another way to show interest is to ask questions. Too many people go into an interview with no questions to ask. There must be something you would like to know about the business! If you’re struggling, ask where they envision the business in 5 years. Show interest and you’ll peak theirs.

It sounds obvious, but don’t be late. There is nothing more frustrating when employers are being delayed by late interviewees. Employers are often on a tight schedule and you don’t want to limit the time you have to impress with them any further. To prevent this, always check your route of transport the night before. If you can, physically do the journey before the big day. By doing so, you’ll be sure not to get lost or be late.

Regarding clothes: the safest bet is always to dress up! But if you are confident the company you are being interviewed for has a smart-casual approach, you may want to risk wearing the same. It helps them imagine you working for them a lot easier. However, if you are ever unsure, don’t be afraid to give them a call. It’s another opportunity to introduce yourself.

Just like any other industry, networking makes a huge difference. No matter role you wish to take up, be prepared to attend expos and trade shows to get to know the different companies out there. Make sure to take a resume and dress appropriately. Your future employer may be waiting for you there. If there are not, there are still plenty of opportunities to find online. Just make sure you have your certificates ready first!





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