Job growth in the marijuana industry has been on the rise for years, but it wasn’t until 2017 that the growth exploded. According to research by ZipRecruiter, the number of marijuana jobs posted to its site increased by about 200 each quarter. During the first quarter of 2017, that number increased by nearly 73% to 345 jobs added. The number of open jobs posted continued to increase in the second and third quarters and hit a high of 1,548 new jobs posted during the fourth quarter of 2017 – undoubtedly as businesses in California ramped up operations before adult-use marijuana became available in January 2018.
In the first quarter of 2018, the number of new marijuana jobs posted to ZipRecruiter decreased to 582, but even with the decrease, it still represented the quarter with the second highest marijuana job growth in history. Bottom-line, more states are legalizing medicinal and adult-use marijuana and with those new laws come new businesses serving growing numbers of patients and consumers.
Those businesses need workers, and it’s a trend that shows no signs of stopping. 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.
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.
For most positions, salaries are influenced by the size of the recruitment pool. If there aren’t many qualified workers in the area, a company will have to pay significantly more to hire someone. However, other jobs in the marijuana industry face fierce competition between workers, which keeps the salaries down to what you’d expect in similar roles in other industries.
In addition to their salaries, employees working in the marijuana industry are entitled to receive the same benefits that they would receive if they worked in an equal position in a different industry. Statista reports that benefits offered to marijuana industry workers in 2017 included:
- Paid vacation time – available to 45% of marijuana workers
- Paid sick days – available to 42% of marijuana workers
- Maternity leave – available to 29% of marijuana workers
- Paid family leave – available to 21% of marijuana workers
- Paternity leave – available to 19% of marijuana workers
- Workplace nursery or nursery linked with workplace – available to 7% of marijuana workers
- Financial help with child care – available to 6% of marijuana workers
- None of these – 48% of marijuana workers
In other words, if you work in the marijuana industry, your salary and benefits won’t necessarily be much different than they would be in other industries.
How to Get into the Marijuana Industry
To work in the marijuana industry, you need to be where the jobs are. That means if you live in a state where neither medical nor recreational marijuana have been legalized, you might have to move.
According to ZipRecruiter, the cities with the most open marijuana jobs in 2017 were:
- Denver, Colorado
- Los Angeles, California
- San Francisco, California
- Seattle, Washington
- Portland, Oregon
- Sacramento, California
- Spokane, Washington
- Miami, Florida
- Chicago, Illinois
- Boston, Massachusetts
However, the number of open jobs in an industry only tells part of the story. The cities that had the largest year-over-year growth in marijuana jobs between 2016 and 2017 were:
- Spokane, Washington
- Miami, Florida
- Deltona, Florida
- Baltimore, Maryland
- Dallas, Texas
- Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
- New York, New York
- Lincoln, Nebraska
- Chicago, Illinois
- Pueblo, Colorado
If you don’t live in these cities 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!
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.