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Do you want to work in the world's largest cannabis market? Are you ready to turn cannabis flower buds into a wide range of extracts and infusions? If you want to become a cannabis master extractor in California, this is how to do it.
Cannabis Extraction is Hot in California
California's cannabis market is the envy of the world. While it is experiencing many growing pains, there are many technological innovations and opportunities in this market, especially in the cannabis extraction field.
Cannabis was legalized in the Golden State in 1996. Twenty-four years later, and the industry is ablaze. In June 2017, the Medicinal and Adult-Use Cannabis Regulation and Safety Act (MAUCRSA) created a regulatory framework for commercial medicinal and adult-use cannabis in the state.
Just last year, legal cannabis sales hit a staggering figure of $3 billion in California. Going by the looks of things this year, it appears that this figure will be surpassed. The Green Rush in California is creating lots of opportunities both for businesses and individuals alike. If you are looking to cash in on this opportunity, becoming a cannabis master extractor is one way to do this.
You would be forgiven for not knowing what a cannabis master extractor does. I admit that this is not one of the first jobs that I learned about in the industry. If anything, there are not many people in the industry who understand what is entailed in this job. But that is where the real opportunity is. While everyone else is looking to become a marijuana writer or a budtender, few are considering a career as a master extractor. And in case you didn’t know, master extractors are among the best–paid workers in the cannabis industry.
Who Is A Master Cannabis Extractor?
This profession is relatively new. A cannabis extractor is a person who is trained to separate the cannabinoid-rich trichomes from cannabis flowers or trim. This raw starting material contains the highest concentration of trichomes, which produce the plant’s therapeutic ingredients such as cannabinoids and terpenes.
Using a variety of solvent-based or solventless techniques, a master extractor leads a team of technicians in processing cannabis material into a resinous extract.
This concentrated oil is used to make different cannabis products, including edibles, topicals, tinctures, and extracts.. This job requires the use of sophisticated (and often flammable) equipment and technical expertise to boot.
Master extractors work in a licensed lab facility featuring a wide range of systems to keep operators and consumers safe. Adequate ventilation, gas monitoring, and fire suppression systems create a safe environment for operators to work with volatile solvents.
Solventless extraction processes forego the use of solvents. Instead, these processes use agitation and heat and pressure to separate the trichomes from the rest of the plant matter. Solventless extraction processes can produce high-quality extracts without the risk of fires or explosions.
Does a Cannabis Master Extractor Require a Degree?
Going by the level of expertise that is required for this job, most employers would prefer a related science degree in chemistry, phytobiology, physics, or chemical engineering. This is just to ensure that you have both the passion and science background to help you understand the extraction process.
If you do not have a degree in any of the above fields, you could still get a job as an entry-level extraction technician. The industry is relatively new, and there are not many qualified people to take up such roles.
Master extractors work with extraction technicians to extract cannabis concentrates from cannabis, including its CBD-rich hemp variety. Concentrates are highly potent forms of cannabis that are made by applying industrial solvents to the plant material to dissolve cannabinoids and terpenes from the raw material.
Some of the solvents that are used such as butane or propane can be explosive when caution is not exercised. Ethanol, another common solvent, is also flammable, although not as much as butane or propane. Carbon dioxide (CO2) is not flammable, but there is a risk of asphyxiation if levels get too high in an extraction room.
Master extractors need to know how to use these volatile solvents as well as be familiar with operating the different extraction systems. Some systems may be automated, while others may require manual operation. Master extractors require years of experience working with these systems and perfecting the extraction process.
For more information about the cannabis extraction process, you can read our previous article by clicking here.
How Much Does A Master Extractor in California Get Paid?
Cannabis extraction jobs are some of the most coveted and highly-paid positions in the industry. The pay will vary based on a number of factors, including the company, geographic location, the years of experience and expertise levelof the job applicant, plus the job description.
Generally, cannabis extraction positions in urban areas pay more than the extraction positions in rural areas.
Here's a quick breakdown of the standard pay rates for entry-level extraction technicians, extraction managers, and extraction specialists.
- Technician: $12-20/hour
- Manager: $20-25/hour
- Rural area: $75k
- Urban area: $150-175k
Master extractors should expect to be paid in the range of $120,000 – $200,000 per year. The paymay also come with additional benefits such as paid leave, health insurance, and a dental and vision package. With such a pay scale, this qualifies to be one of the highest-paying jobs in the industry.
What is the Job Description of a Master Extractor?
There are many ways to create a high-quality cannabis extract. The job description of a master extractor will vary based on the employer, the extraction system, the type of solvent usedOh, and the desired final products. However, the following responsibilities are common in most job descriptions:
- Preparation of equipment and plant materials (dried or fresh-frozen) for extraction
- Perform cannabis extraction in a state-compliant environment using butane extraction or other kinds of flammable extraction solvents
- Perform post-processing after extraction
- Create and maintain extraction operational policies and SOPs
- Have a technical understanding and be able to operate extraction equipment
- Understand a wide variety of cannabis concentrates
- Have leadership and management skill to oversee an extraction team
- Ensure product quality through quality control testing and procedures
- Cleaning and maintenance of extraction equipment
- Oversee day-to-day operations in the extraction facility from storage of the raw cannabis to fulfillment of orders
- Overseeing the storage of supplies as well as disposal of waste according to SOPs
- Oversee the packaging and labeling of finished products
- Collaborate with the testing laboratory as defined by state guidelines
- Work as part of a team to meet production schedules.
- Perform and supervise data recording
- Participate in creating a desirable workplace culture
- Be able to identify and report unsafe equipment and practices to prevent workplace accidents
- Perform other duties as assigned.
Skills and Education Requirements:
Cannabis extraction technicians and master extractors require expertise in working in a lab grade setting. They must understand how to operate the extraction equipment, use personal protective equipment, and follow safety protocols.
- Prior experience working with extraction solvents such as CO2, light hydrocarbons, and ethanol
- Chemical engineering degree or equivalent is preferred
- Experience in the volatile extraction field
- Bookkeeping and inventory tracking knowledge
- Expertise in proper and safe handling of hazardous materials
- Ability to carry and lift at least 40 pounds
- Must be 21+ years old
- Background check required
- Work permit (if applicable)
Benefits Attached to Master Extractor Job
On top of the relatively high pay, cannabis extraction jobs in California can come with a wide range of job benefits. This is a full-time job and is likely to come with the following benefits:
- Medical cover
- Dental cover
- Paid annual leave
- Paid holidays
The field of cannabis extraction is fast evolving, and now some companies have switched to solventless extraction. If you are looking for a job as a master extractor, you should also get acquainted with solventless extraction techniques.
Where to Find Master Extractor Jobs in California
Cannabis extraction jobs are some of the most coveted positions in the industry. You can find a job as a master extractor from any of the following job sites:
- Zip Recruiter
Make sure to check these job boards daily at the very least. Since these jobs are in demand, they can be filled up quickly.
You can also check out a wide range of cannabis-specific job boards online that don't have as many jobs listed as traditional job boards but still can provide you with excellent career opportunities.
How To Get A Job As A Master Extractor in California
If you think you are qualified for this job, then go right ahead and check on the above websites for any open opportunities. At the time of writing this, there were about 10 master vacancies on Indeed.com and another 14 vacancies on SimplyHired.
Send in your updated resume and cover letter and wait for a response. If there are no open vacancies, you could still cold-pitch to cannabis companies that hire master extractors or entry-level extraction technicians in your locality.
One extra tip that could put you ahead of the pack is this: networking.
The cannabis industry largely relies on networking. To build your network and increase your chances of getting hired, start by attending cannabis events and interact with people in the industry. You can also create networks through sites such as LinkedIn.
While you need the skills and experience to work in this fast-growing sector, you also need a passion and love for the industry.
This is how to become a master cannabis extractor in California.
Generally, cannabis extraction companies hire entry-level employees to learn how to operate the equipment and the best practices to use. Master extractors teach technicians the safe and efficient ways to handle the solvents and extraction equipment.
After proving yourself competent at the extraction technician job, you can move up to become an extraction supervisorand then earn the manager position. From there, the next step is becoming the Director of Extraction/Extraction Specialist.
- Extraction Manager: An extraction manager is responsible for the extraction process and operating the extraction equipment. They must be aware of problems with the equipment and report them to the Extraction Specialist.
- Extraction Specialist: An extraction specialist is the leader of the extraction process. They must be an expert at understanding the differences in yields of the strains and the effects of different solvents, temperatures, and processes. They must know how to operate the equipment safely and efficiently. They are responsible for delegating tasks to the entire staff.
Since the cannabis extraction sector is relatively new, you will likely start in an entry-level position, unless you have previous experience in botanical extraction or a similar position.
There are many ways to advance in your cannabis extraction career if you start off as an entry-level technician. Here are a few tips to help you move up the company ranks.
- Enroll in advanced science courses.
- Read books by cannabis professionals on cultivation and extraction.
- Get certified by a renowned industry training program such as CTU.
- Discuss your passion and plans for advancement with management.
- Be aware of the latest trends, techniques, and research in the industry.
Cannabis Extraction Technician Training
To work as an extraction tech, sign up for online cannabis industry training at the world's leading marijuana university. Start your new marijuana job as a cannabis extraction technician with online cannabis training from CTU.