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It may not come as a surprise to many people that marijuana is the fastest-growing job market in America, especially with a growing acceptance of the plant as a recreational substance. Marijuana and hemp industries have expanded significantly providing job seekers with a range of well-paying occupations in cultivation, retail, extraction, and ancillary industries like accounting, marketing, and sales.
A Skyrocketing Industry
In 2018, cannabis companies added 64,389 jobs to the job sector, an increase of 44 percent from 2017. In 2019, the unexpected job growth kept rising. A special report by Leafly and Whitney Economics published in March 2019 found that more than 211,000 Americans made an honest living in the cannabis industry.
The marijuana industry, however, isn’t a self-sustaining operation. Ancillary suppliers and contractors grease the wheels of the job market to keep the operations compliant and legal. If ancillary jobs are counted with cannabis jobs for 2019, over 296,000 Americans held a job that directly or indirectly supported the industry.
Currently, marijuana is a Schedule I substance, which is illegal to consume and sell. Because of its federal status, cannabis jobs aren’t counted by the Bureau of Labor Statistics leaving the marijuana industry to estimate job numbers based on government reviews, sales, and trends.
Cannabis Job Growth Compared To Fast-Growing Industries
Leafly’s 2020 cannabis jobs report shines a light on the fastest-growing industries in America. As of early 2020, the cannabis industry supports 243,700 full-time jobs. The nearly quarter of a million full-time cannabis jobs accounts for a 15 percent annual increase.
Due to federal restrictions, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and state agencies do not include cannabis job numbers in their reports. Despite federal oversight, the cannabis industry is the fastest-growing industry in America right now.
Cannabis’ expected job growth between 2018 and 2028 is 250 percent. According to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, here’s a list of the fastest-growing occupations in America, 2018 and projected 2028, and their expected job growth as a percentage.
- Solar Photovoltaic Installers: 63 percent
- Wind Turbine Service Techs: 57 percent
- Home Health Aides: 37 percent
- Personal Care Aides: 36 percent
- Occupational Therapists: 33 percent
- Information Security Analysts: 32 percent
- Statisticians: 31 percent
- Physician Assistants: 31 percent
- Nurse Practitioners: 28 percent
- Speech-Language Pathologists: 27 percent
- Physical Therapist Assistants: 27 percent
- Genetic Counselors: 27 percent
- Mathematicians: 26 percent
- Operations Research Analysts: 26 percent
- Software Developers, Applications: 26 percent
- Forest Fire Inspectors and Prevention Specialists: 24 percent
Fast-growing positions such as home health aides and personal care aides pay about $24,000 per year. Entry-level positions such as trimmers and budtenders in the cannabis sector can earn similar, if not, slightly higher wages starting at $24,000 for full-time cannabis employees.
States With Tremendous Job Growth
Cannabis consumers looking to find a job in the industry will have the best luck in states that have developed marijuana job markets. The first states to legalize marijuana like Colorado, Washington, Oregon, and California will have considerable job opportunities, but ultimately, job availability will depend on location, type of job, and experience level needed.
According to Leafly’s special report, Florida added the largest number of full-time marijuana jobs in 2018. Florida jobs grew rapidly to 10,358 in 2018, a considerable increase from 1,290 full-time jobs in 2017. The job growth was caused, in part, by a rapidly expanding patient base that went from 65,000 to 165,000 members in a year.
Pennsylvania also looks to be vying for a place as one of the leading cannabis job markets. Leafly’s report mentioned that the state had experienced the largest percent increase in registered marijuana patients. In 2017, only 90 individuals were employed full-time in Pennsylvania’s cannabis industry. In 2018, the number grew to 3,878.
Alaska’s job count grew fivefold in 2018 to 2,810. Maryland’s job count went up from 559 jobs to 2,624. Illinois and Minnesota doubled their job numbers. New York tripled theirs. Nevada and Oklahoma have also shown a consistent rise in cannabis workers. According to a Glassdoor report, these are the best metropolitan cities for job openings:
- San Francisco, CA
- Los Angeles, CA
- Denver, CO
- New York City, NY
- Seattle, WA
- Boston, MA
- Chicago, IL
- Miami-Fort Lauderdale, FL
- Riverside, CA
- Portland, OR
- San Jose, CA
- Sacramento, CA
- Las Vegas, NV
- San Diego, CA
- Santa Barbara, CA
Marijuana Jobs In Colorado
In 2019, Colorado experienced an eight percent increase in its market. Colorado made $1.77 billion in sales. Colorado supported 34,705 full-time cannabis jobs. Colorado came in second behind California as the state with the highest cannabis job numbers.
Marijuana Jobs In Oregon
Oregon experienced a 20 percent increase in its cannabis market. The state brought in $800 million in sales in 2019. Oregon supported 18,274 full-time cannabis jobs in 2019.
Marijuana Jobs In Florida
Florida experienced a 93 percent year-over-year growth mainly due to a repeal of the state’s ban on smokable flower. Florida’s market value approaches $800 million. The Sunshine State supported $15,498 full-time marijuana jobs in 2019.
Marijuana Jobs In California
While California experienced some rough patches in 2019, the Golden State continues to support the largest cannabis job market in the nation. California supported 39,804 full-time cannabis employees in 2019. The state made $2,03 billion in sales during the year.
Marijuana Jobs In Arizona
Arizona has one of the nation’s most robust medical marijuana markets. The state saw a 21 percent gain in sales, making $709 million in total market value. Arizona supported 15,059 full-time cannabis jobs in 2019.
Marijuana Jobs In Illinois
Illinois’ strong medical market has been bolstered with the introduction of a recreational market, which started in the beginning of 2020. Illinois supported 9,176 full-time marijuana employees in 2019.
Marijuana Jobs In Washington
Washington experienced a measured rate of growth. In 2019, the state posted $1.21 billion in total sales, an 8 percent year-over-year growth. Washington supported 23,756 full-time cannabis jobs.
[additional entries into the list under the “Cannabis Job Opportunities” Section]
- Brand Ambassador: Brand ambassadors promote cannabis companies by connecting with potential customers at industry or in-store events, as well as on various social media platforms. Brand ambassadors can earn between $15 and $25 per hour.
- Delivery Driver: Delivery drivers deliver products to the home of medical and recreational consumers. Drivers must have a clean driving record and a valid driver’s license. Drivers must also understand the state’s regulations on cannabis home delivery. Drivers can earn between $15 and $30 an hour.
- Lab Technician: Lab technicians test cannabis products for pesticides, heavy metals, and other toxins. Technicians also test for potency and terpene levels. A science degree may be required. Lab technicians can earn between $15 and $20 an hour.
- Edibles Chef: Edibles chefs are in charge of producing a variety of cannabis-infused edibles including chocolates, gummies, and baked goods. From sourcing materials to keeping track of inventory, edibles chefs are responsible for all kitchen operations. A degree in culinary arts is preferred. Cannabis edibles chefs can earn up to $60,000 per year.
- Marketing/Writing/Social Media: A cannabis company’s marketing arm is composed of marketing, social media, and copywriting gurus who can capture the brand’s voice and digital platforms. Entry-level employees can enter the sector by interning and rising up the ranks. Marketing Managers can earn anywhere between $50,000 and $100,000 a year.
- Packager: A cannabis packager or processor is responsible for processing cannabis material into the packaging. This entry-level cannabis position requires employees to stand for long periods of time. A cannabis packager can earn between $13 and $16 an hour.
- Security Guard: Security guards are required to always be alert. Guards may monitor CCTV to keep an eye for unusual activity. Security personnel is also responsible for providing traffic control and interacting with customers. Cannabis security guards earn between $15 and $25 an hour.
- Accountant: Accountants are required to handle payment of bills, develop financial reports, review credit card statements, process payments, and remain compliant with fiscal regulations. Accountants for cannabis companies may be required to have a Bachelor’s degree in accounting, finance, or business administration. Accountants can earn between $15 and $25 an hour.
Cannabis Job Opportunities
Cannabis job opportunities range from entry-level to C-level executive positions. For new entrants to the field, cannabis entry-level wages are higher compared to similar jobs in non-cannabis fields. Below are a few of the most in-demand cannabis jobs along with a salary estimate, albeit, salaries vary by experience level and location:
- Head Grower/Master Grower: The director of cultivation takes care of every aspect of planting and growing high-quality marijuana including potting, watering, and harvesting plants. The average salary is $88,000.
- Trimmer: A trimmer ensures the cannabis flower buds are ready for sale. Trimmers often spend long hours pruning buds for maximum bag appeal. The average salary is $12.50 an hour.
- Dispensary Manager: A retail manager is in charge of training staff, overseeing daily operations, and remaining compliant with state and local laws. The average salary is $56,250.
- Extraction Manager: Concentrates are a growing market. Extraction managers strip away the valuable compounds from the plant and produce a range of concentrate types including distillate oil for edibles or terp sauce for cannabis connoisseurs. The average salary is $72,000.
- Budtender: A budtender or retail associate is the point-of-contact for customers. Budtenders should be knowledgeable about cannabis, medicinal uses, products, dose, and consumption methods. The average salary is $13 an hour.
- Compliance Manager: Compliance is crucial to keeping a legal operation afloat. Compliance managers develop compliance protocols and stay up-to-date with regulation changes across municipalities. The average salary is $62,500.
Helping the Marijuana Market Grow
If you’re interested in joining the thousands of job seekers looking to get in on the ground floor of the cannabis industry, it’s important to be knowledgeable about the foundation of cannabis. Cannabis Training University educates students with the most renowned marijuana training program and prepares them with a wealth of courses including:
- How to Grow Marijuana
- Marijuana Cooking & Extractions
- Marijuana Laws & Regulations
- Marijuana Dispensary & Delivery Service Management
- Becoming a Budtender: Essential Skills Training
- Marijuana as Medicine
- Cannabis Jobs, Cannabis Resumes, and Cannabis Business Plans
Cannabis Job Salaries vs. US Median Salary
Besides being one of the fastest-growing industries in the nation, the cannabis industry also tends to pay its employees better than comparable positions that aren’t in the marijuana market. Some estimates find that cannabis employees earn about 11 percent more than the U.S. median salary of $52,863.
The median annual salary in the cannabis industry is $58,511 a year. That’s $5,648 more than the national average. While these numbers reflect salaries in December 2018 based on Glassdoor estimates, cannabis job salaries are consistently competitive.
Cannabis College Online
CTU has been preparing students for the competitive marijuana job market since 2009 and has become the world’s leading online marijuana school. A team of the most knowledgeable and passionate industry insiders prepared comprehensive courses and continually update offerings with the latest developments.
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Fred Hernandez is a highly accomplished and versatile writer, boasting an extensive background in the cannabis industry. With an in-depth understanding of various sectors including cultivators, processors, retailers, and brands, Fred's expertise spans across the entire cannabis landscape. As a prominent contributor to CTU, he consistently delivers insightful articles exploring the latest developments, news, and regulations shaping the cannabis industry. Whether it's delving into the intricacies of cannabis products, cannabis strain reviews, or providing comprehensive analyses of cannabis laws, or sharing expert insights on cannabis cultivation techniques, Fred's wealth of knowledge positions him as an invaluable writer and educator for all cannabis-related subjects.