Job growth in the marijuana industry has been on the rise for years, but it wasn’t until 2017 that growth exploded. According to the 2019 Cannabis Jobs Count report from Leafly and Whitney Economics, there were more than 211,000 cannabis jobs across the United States at the beginning of 2019, and more than 64,000 of them were added in 2018. The industry is on track to achieve 110% growth in jobs during the three-year period of 2017 through 2019.
The data shows jobs in cannabis are growing at a faster rate than any other industry in the U.S., and there are a wide variety of open jobs waiting to be filled. Data from Glassdoor tells us the number of cannabis industry job openings at the end of 2018 was 76% higher than the same time in 2017, and the median salary for cannabis industry job openings is 10.7% higher than the U.S. median salary.
As more states legalize medicinal and adult-use cannabis and expand their existing programs, more businesses and workers will be needed to serve the growing numbers of patients and consumers.
Bottom-line, cannabis industry job growth is a trend that shows no signs of stopping. Leafly and Whitney Economics report that 64,389 full-time legal cannabis jobs were added in the U.S. in 2018 (a gain of 44% over 2017), and they conservatively project that the job gain rate in 2019 will be 20%. New Frontier Data predicts the industry will employ 300,000 people by 2020, and Arcview Market Research predicts the number will climb to 400,000 by 2021.
Types of Marijuana Jobs
There are marijuana jobs for people with a wide variety of skills, knowledge, and experience. Some of the most common jobs in the industry are growers, cultivation site managers, trimmers, cannabis chefs, extractors, lab technicians, packagers, budtenders, delivery drivers, compliance directors, and security guards. Each of these jobs is critical to the operations of cultivators, dispensaries, retailers, processors, and testing facilities.
However, don’t forget all of the necessary business roles that marijuana companies need to continue operating. Roles in marketing, sales, IT, human resources, accounting, and legal are just as important to marijuana businesses as they are to any other kind of business. You could get a job in one of these fields working as a marijuana company employee, as the employee of a company that provides services to marijuana companies, or you could start your own company or work as a freelancer to offer your services to marijuana companies.
Marijuana Job Salaries and Benefits
According to a report from CNN Money, the salaries for marijuana jobs can range from $10 or more per hour for a trimmer or $10 to $14 per hour for a budtender to $250,000 or more per year for high-level scientists. A dispensary or retail manager could earn $40,000 per year or more while a horticulturalist could make $40,000 per year and a botanist could make $60,000 per year.
In its Cannabis Salary Guide 2018, Vangst, a cannabis industry employment and recruitment firm, reports that the average salary increased by 16.1% between 2017 and 2018. In addition to their salaries, Vangst found that benefits offered to full-time marijuana industry workers in 2018 included:
- Medical insurance – offered by 71% of cannabis industry employers
- Dental insurance – offered by 51% of cannabis industry employers
- Vision insurance – offered by 46% of cannabis industry employers
- Medical, Dental, and Vision insurance – all three types of insurance are offered by 46% of cannabis industry employers
- 401k – offered by 29% of cannabis industry employers
- No benefits –21% of cannabis industry employers do not offer any employee benefits
In other words, there are many cannabis jobs available to help you break into the industry.
Related Reading: Cannabiz Media Client Spotlight – Vangst
How to Get into the Marijuana Industry
To work in the marijuana industry, you need to be where the jobs are. According to the 2019 Cannabis Jobs Count report, the five states with the most cannabis jobs added between January 2018 and January 2019 were:
- Florida: 9,068 jobs added in 2018 (703% increase)
- Nevada: 7,573 jobs added in 2018 (181% increase)
- Washington: 7,035 jobs added in 2018 (26% increase)
- Arizona: 5,120 jobs added in 2018 (82% increase)
- Colorado: 4,595 jobs added in 2018 (17% increase)
Looking ahead, the states that will add a significant number of jobs between January 2019 and January 2020 based on projections in the 2019 Cannabis Jobs Count report are:
- California: 10,261 jobs added in 2019 (21% increase)
- Massachusetts: 9,564 jobs added in 2019 (317% increase)
- Florida: 5,136 jobs added in 2019 (50% increase)
- Oklahoma: 2,300 jobs added in 2019 (109% increase)
- Arkansas: 825 jobs added in 2019 (611% increase)
If you don’t live in these states and don’t want to move, all hope isn’t lost. There are many virtual startups and brick-and-mortar companies operating ancillary marijuana businesses that provide products and services to other marijuana-related businesses but never touch the plant themselves. Software companies, lighting manufacturers, greenhouse builders, marketing companies, accounting firms, and more can be found across the country. You could join one of these companies or start your own to join the marijuana industry when you’re ready to take the leap!
Originally published 8/14/18. Updated 6/28/19.
Susan Gunelius, Lead Analyst for Cannabiz Media and author of Marijuana Licensing Reference Guide: 2017 Edition, is also President & CEO of KeySplash Creative, Inc., a marketing communications company offering, copywriting, content marketing, email marketing, social media marketing, and strategic branding services. She spent the first half of her 25-year career directing marketing programs for AT&T and HSBC. Today, her clients include household brands like Citigroup, Cox Communications, Intuit, and more as well as small businesses around the world. Susan has written 11 marketing-related books, including the highly popular Content Marketing for Dummies, 30-Minute Social Media Marketing, Kick-ass Copywriting in 10 Easy Steps, The Ultimate Guide to Email Marketing, and she is a popular marketing and branding keynote speaker. She is also a Certified Career Coach and Founder and Editor in Chief of Women on Business, an award-winning blog for business women. Susan holds a B.S. in marketing and an M.B.A in management and strategy.