Cannabis worker hangs cannabis up to dry

5 Well-Paying Entry-Level Jobs in the Cannabis Industry

The cannabis industry is big business — to put it lightly. The industry generated an estimated $14.9 billion in 2019 and employs over 250,000 people in the US alone. Across the United States, an ever-growing number of states are legalizing medical and adult-use recreational marijuana, and the industry in Canada and Europe is also making major strides. 

Simply put, the cannabis industry is booming, and if you’re looking to make your mark in the industry, here are some of the top entry-level jobs to help you get your foot in the door. 

1. Budtender

(Photo by Add Weed on Unsplash)

Typical salary: $12.50/hour to $18/hour

Dispensary agents or patient liaisons — aka “budtenders” — are arguably the face of the legal marijuana industry. Budtenders work behind the counters at dispensaries and provide medical and recreational customers the guidance they need to find the right strains, products, and intake methods for them. 

Cannabis is not a one-size-fits-all product. The ideal budtender should have the knowledge necessary to speak about a wide range of cannabis strains and delivery methods — from edibles to vapes to concentrates — and be able to advise novice and expert smokers on the right products for them. They also need to have a knack for sales, customer service, and the ability to promote the dispensary’s products and upsell customers. 

Budtender positions are highly sought-after, and applicants should highlight past experience in sales, retail, or customer service. Average salaries for budtenders range from $12.50/ to $18/hour depending on location and seniority, among other factors. Once a budtender works their way up the ranks to become a dispensary store manager, they can earn anywhere between $40,000 to $100,000 per year, again depending on seniority and location. 

2. Marketing and writing

(Photo by Christin Hume on Unsplash)

Typical salary: ~$54,000 per year

Got a knack for the written word? Are you web-savvy and know how to make compelling content sparkle and get seen? You may want to consider a job in cannabis marketing and writing. 

An ideal cannabis marketing applicant should have extensive knowledge of social media, content writing, online publishing, and SEO. They should have a sense of how to increase traffic and what makes compelling online copy that people want to read, and that does not come off as typical ad copy or spam. 

Cannabis marketing also requires learning the particular regulations in your jurisdiction for advertising cannabis, which can at times be beguiling.

Experience in online media, journalism, or advertising are all beneficial, and new hires can expect salaries that average around $54,342 according to ZipRecruiter, though this should vary widely depending on where you live.

3. Cannabis sales

(Photo: nd3000/123rf)

Typical salary: ~$40,000 per year

People may think marijuana sells itself — but it’s not that simple. Just like in any other industry, cannabis companies need great salespeople who are passionate about the product and can give their all to make sure the company reaches its full potential. 

These “brand ambassadors” help cannabis companies reach customers and investors online, through social media, at conferences and trade shows, and day-to-day inside the dispensary. 

Every cannabis company has its own voice, vision, and direction — and a talented evangelist can be crucial as they stake their own place in this crowded field. 

Work hard, be passionate, and you can expect salaries that average around $40,000 per year according to ZipRecruiter, though this depends on the company and where it’s located. 

4. Trimmer

(Photo by Terre di Cannabis on Unsplash)

Typical salary: $11.40 to $16.90 per hour

Do you have a green thumb? Do you love working with your hands, being in the great outdoors (or a well-lit indoor grow facility)? Trimmers and post harvesters are responsible for preparing the flower so it’s ready for the market. 

It’s a job for people who love to get their hands dirty and can treat flowers with the care and attention they deserve. You’ll also need to understand the anatomy of the plants and how best to prepare and store them — as well as how to use and take care of the valuable equipment involved in cultivation. The work can be seasonal/post-harvest, but more and more trimmer positions are permanent jobs that also entail a number of other responsibilities on the grow operation. 

Cannabis trimmers are entry-level jobs on the cultivation side of the cannabis industry, but a great place to get started to work your way up. You can expect starting salaries ranging from around $11.40 to $16.90 or more per hour. 

5. Extraction technician

(Photo by Bee Naturalles on Unsplash)

Typical salary: $50,000-$120,000 per year

“Concentrates” like wax, shatter, and butter are changing the world of medical and recreational marijuana and the technicians who are making it all happen are in hot demand. 

Extraction technician work can include the production of all types of products such as oils, tinctures, vape cartridges, lotions, and more. Technicians are responsible for taking the raw flower and turning it into these products safely, professionally, and with precision. 

While there currently is no standardized certification process for the job, the position typically requires working knowledge of several scientific subjects, such as chemistry, physics, phytobiology, or chemical engineering. Some companies also require a degree in at least one of these fields. 

As one of the most in-demand positions in the industry, extraction technicians can expect starting salaries of around $50,000 and can easily make upwards of $80,000-120,000 per year depending on their experience and the size of the company they work for. 

“This too shall pass” 

At the time of writing this guide, the global economy is still going through massive upheaval due to the coronavirus outbreak, and it’s hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel. Countless people are charting a new course in their careers, and many are looking to the cannabis industry as a new beginning. Opportunities are rife in this still expanding and ever more dynamic industry.

Put yourself out there, and make your mark on the cannabis business.


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