For all you Illinois job seekers, here’s your guide on Illinois’ marijuana and cannabis careers. Don’t have any previous cannabis job experience? Choose from a variety of entry-level cannabis industry positions ranging from cannabis trimmer to retail budtender and work your way up the green ladder to a management or leadership position or start your own business.
Our guide helps you understand the marijuana laws in Illinois, explain the current state of the Illinois cannabis job market, and detail various entry-level cannabis job positions and more advanced positions in the industry. We show you how to earn a cannabis job in Illinois or start your own cannabis business in the Prairie State.
Is Cannabis Legal In Illinois?
Marijuana is legal for both recreational and medicinal use in Illinois. Since 2014, Illinois has enrolled nearly 100,000 qualifying patients into its medical cannabis program. In 2019, Illinois legalized recreational marijuana use and sales. Recreational sales started at the beginning of 2020. State dispensaries had a massively successful start of its recreational market.
Why Join Illinois’ Cannabis Job Market
Illinois’ recreational cannabis market has been a boon to job growth in the state. Illinois already had a robust medical marijuana market. In 2019, medical sales topped $327 million. Early data from 2020 suggests this is already a $470 million annual market and could grow to $600 million by the end of the year.
According to Leafly’s latest job report, Illinois supported 9,176 jobs, ranking #10 in states with the most cannabis jobs in 2019. A study by BDS Analytics found that by 2025, Illinois could see 63,000 new cannabis jobs, more than 4 ½ times bigger than the state’s film and television industry.
As Illinois continues to open more recreational dispensaries and the demand for marijuana remains strong, cultivators, retailers, processors, testing labs, and distributors will be seeking knowledgeable job candidates who are hungry to stand out in the marijuana market. These job numbers don’t take into account the ancillary cannabis jobs created by this pot boom.
Marijuana Cultivation Jobs In Illinois
In Illinois, a large chunk of cannabis job positions is expected to be in the cultivation sector for hemp and cannabis. Cultivation workers may require earning a cultivation badge, which includes passing a background check to check for felony convictions. Employees may also be drug tested before getting hired.
A trimmer is tasked with manicuring cannabis plants while creating minimal waste to produce a high-quality product for sale. Hand trimming involves sitting for long periods of time and being detail-oriented. Trimmers will also track the amount of plant waste they produce. Experience in legal marijuana growing is preferred.
Generally, cultivators look for those with a high school diploma or GED for trimming positions. Cultivators may also require trimmers to pass a background check and drug test. A trimmer can earn about $12 to $13 per hour in Illinois and learn more about the cultivation side of the cannabis market.
An assistant cannabis grower helps out with all grow operations and projects for a large-scale facility. They delegate work to the grow team, hire new staff, train them, and monitor the daily growing operations. Assistant cannabis growers must track certain data to remain compliant with state and local regulations.
Assistant marijuana growers may require a degree in horticulture, agriculture, or science. Some cannabis companies may hire applicants with relevant work experience. Assistants must have supervisory experience in various cultivation settings. Assistant growers can earn up to $45,000 per year in Illinois.
A master or head cannabis grower is in charge of the daily operations of growing cannabis or hemp. They manage a state-of-the-art growing facility and ensure all operations are compliant with state and local regulations. Head growers must lead a team of assistants to oversee all aspects of growing from planting seeds to harvest.
A master grower must have at least seven years of business management experience and at least five years in horticulture or growing cannabis and/or hemp. While a Bachelor’s Degree in a relevant field is preferred, applicants can also have equivalent work experience. Cultivation managers can earn up to $90,000 per year.
Marijuana Dispensary Jobs In Illinois
Besides cultivation, retail will see a surge in hiring among cannabis job seekers in Illinois. Dispensary jobs range from budtenders who help customers throughout their purchase or managers who handle the budget, inventory, and any other business aspect of the operation.
Budtenders, also known as patient care specialists in Illinois medical pot shops, help cannabis consumers select marijuana products. For medical patients, patient care specialists help patients select products that can relieve their symptoms. Budtenders and patient care specialists can earn anywhere between $10 and $12 an hour.
Assistant Dispensary Manager
Assistant dispensary managers help manage the day-to-day operations of a dispensary in Illinois. An assistant manager supports the budtenders or patient care specialists. They manage scheduling, training, and enforcing store and state policies. They must provide superior customer service and maintain accurate records of dispensary activity.
Assistant managers require experience in data entry and management, strong business acumen, and the ability to handle technical and product-related information. Industry experience is preferred. An assistant dispensary manager can earn about $45,000 per year.
A dispensary manager oversees all dispensary operations from managing staff to inventory purchasing and tracking to meeting sales goals. Managers may also be responsible for visiting and working from multiple stores in a region.
Dispensary managers must be familiar with Illinois marijuana laws surrounding dispensaries. Applicants must have at least three years of experience in a retail management position. A dispensary manager in Illinois can earn about $60,000 per year.
A dispensary security guard is in charge of providing quality customer service and remaining vigilant at all times. They are there to ensure customer safety and protect inventory. Security guards will also monitor various areas around the dispensary location such as the parking lot. Security guards can earn about $40,000 per year.
Marijuana Extraction Jobs In Illinois
Cannabis extraction produces potent concentrate products and edibles. Cannabis extraction can use a variety of solvents including hydrocarbons such as propane and butane or ethanol, each with their own pros and cons. Extraction company employees will be working in a laboratory-grade facility with closed-loop extraction units.
An extraction technician assists the master extractor in extraction, processing, and packaging activities. An assistant must document certain data and follow standard operating procedures for safety reasons.
Extraction technicians may require a Bachelor’s Degree in chemistry, chemical engineering, or a relevant field. Extraction technicians must also have previous experience in a laboratory setting. An extraction technician can earn up to $60,000 per year in Illinois
A master extractor or extraction lab manager is responsible for handling all extraction processes, typically using closed-loop hydrocarbon extraction. They will create policies and procedures for the extraction team, manage daily operations, and lead a team of extraction technicians.
A degree in chemical engineering, biochemistry, or a related field may be required. A master extractor must also have at least two years of experience working in a cannabis extraction lab. A master extractor can earn up to $80,000 a year.
Ancillary Cannabis Jobs In Illinois
Cannabis ancillary job positions in Illinois are skyrocketing. Currently, major job boards have listed a variety of employment opportunities that don’t involve touching the plant. Law firms are looking for cannabis paralegal to assist with their marijuana clients. Packaging companies are hiring content writers to support e-commerce and digital marketing efforts.
A number of cannabis-related jobs in Illinois don’t require any prior experience with marijuana. Job opportunities in laboratories, data management, and HVAC (heating, ventilation, and air conditioning) services all assist the marijuana industry. With so much expected revenue, Illinois cannabis companies will also be looking for top-notch accounting firms.
How To Find Marijuana Jobs In Illinois
Finding a cannabis job in Illinois is possible for many job seekers if they are 21 years of age or older. Cannabis job positions may require prior experience in a related position. To gain a competitive edge, cannabis training can help applicants make their resume more attractive to job recruiters.
Illinois Online Marijuana Training
If you’re looking to find a marijuana job in Illinois, you need to understand the fundamentals of cannabis to get a job recruiter’s attention. Cannabis Training U’s in-depth online cannabis training program teaches students the history and the nuances of the cannabis industry, as well as how to stand out to cannabis companies hiring and how to start your own cannabis business.
Students can sign-up for CTU’s online marijuana college and start learning from the comfort of their home. Whether you’re in Chicago, Peoria, Rockford, Aurora, Joliet, Naperville, or any other Illinois city, you can start learning from industry insiders and gain a well-rounded education so you can find your passion within the expansive cannabis industry.