So, you want to work in the cannabis industry. Those who do are living in interesting times. They’re pioneers of sorts, because with cannabis still illegal federally, uncertainties about the industry on a national level loom large. Since legal cannabis companies are all in their infancy and are essentially startups, many providers of cannabis jobs are experiencing the growing pains associated with startups in general.
In both large and small companies in this market, people can come and go at a rapid rate. However, for those who stick around and put in hard work, the rewards can be large. Many of these people have a bright future ahead of them if they have a strong work ethic.
So, if you’re not intimidated by long, busy hours, the cannabis industry may be for you! Other opportunities definitely exist but are more specialized. Ancillary companies that “do not touch the plant” exist in the areas of marketing, public relations, staffing, finance, software development, consulting, publishing, product development, and other fields. These jobs serve and support the industry but are not directly involved with the main product—cannabis. Many of the larger retail stores and chains also have opportunities in their cultivation and/or manufacturing divisions, as well as their corporate offices. Manufacturing jobs creating cannabis concentrates at a MIP facility are becoming increasingly popular among millennials who have a fondness for dabs. For those who desire a job in the retail or cultivation sectors, however, it pays to remember a few things. Retail hours often include weekends, holidays, and evenings, which are the times most cannabis consumers use cannabis the most. And cultivation facilities are often open seven-days-per-week, because plants don’t take time off and require care.
The allure of cannabis jobs is obvious. For those who are passionate about cannabis, the attraction is huge. In the not-so-distant past, the idea of legal cannabis and someday working for a company that produces, sells, and/or promotes it was just a wishful pipe dream.
Putting In The Hard Work
Attractive as cannabis jobs appear and often are, make no mistake that succeeding at a cannabis job doesn’t involves putting in the time, and in that respect, it’s no different from working in any other industry. Contrary to popular public opinion, the vast majority of cannabis jobs do not involve getting high and kicking back. As one successful cannabis retail manager put it when discussing the heavy employee turnover in his store, “Forget about the cannabis aspect of it—this is retail!” The cannabis retail environment can be hectic and busy on most days, with lines of people waiting to be served—some of them with an “I know it all” attitude that doesn’t welcome friendly conversation and useful suggestions about available store inventory. Budtenders will spend a great deal of time on their feet. The busy nature of the job does have its appealing side as well, with fun interactions with the majority of cannabis-loving customers. On particularly busy days, time passes fast. Sticking it out in retail for an extended time—sometimes as short as a year—can often open the door for advancement and manager opportunities. A strong work ethic, diligence, outgoing customer service, and punctuality will eventually pay off.
Getting Your First Job in the Cannabis Industry
For the average entry-level job seeker, the most common positions besides retail sales are in cultivation and manufacturing (concentrates). These cannabis jobs tend to be very busy as well, with cultivation in particular involving quite a bit of “grunt work.” Forget any visions you may have about casually walking the rows of mature plants with a watering can in hand, occasionally stopping to smell a particularly enticing flower. That may work great for your basement grow, but the 9-to-5 cannabis gig is quite different. If the cultivation facility is hydroponic in nature, expect to haul loads of rocks for washing and use. And if it’s soil-based, expect to get dirty hauling various types of equipment.
For those with a knack for trimming, some rewarding opportunities exist in the harvesting/trimming/processing department. Trimming can be monotonous but rewarding work, and some people really have a knack for it and excel in this role—and it’s definitely a hands-on job with regard to the plant. Jobs in cultivation are vital in this industry, because in the end, everything goes back to the plant. Entry-level cultivation jobs allow new employees to learn from master growers through observation, conversation, and daily operations. As these new employees gain knowledge, they become more marketable, and there are definitely some high-paying positions on this side of the industry.
Manufacturing jobs at a MIP facility have similar opportunities for advancement. The creation of various concentrates (hash, hash oil, shatter, wax, rosin, crumble, etc.) is part science and part art. At many of these facilities, people specialize in a specific type of extraction technique, employing a variety of methods. Many people in these roles develop their own recipes and tricks of the trade—something that definitely makes them marketable or in a position to negotiate advancement.
The cannabis kitchen also provides entry-level possibilities and opportunities to learn and grow with a company. Advances in the creation of edibles go hand-in-hand with advances in extraction since the use of oil. The best bakers have honed their craft, often learning from trial and error, as well as instruction from more experienced personnel.
Ready To Get Started?
The main purpose of this article is to paint a realistic picture of typical entry-level cannabis jobs—not to discourage anyone. Once you understand the nature of the work, the benefits become quite apparent—working with kindred spirits and no drug testing being just two—but it pays to remember that a strong and serious work ethic is important and noticed by managers. As the old axiom goes, “The cream rises to the top.” The same applies to the cannabis industry. Good employees advance, while the less motivated ones may have a more difficult time moving up.
So, when you begin your exciting new job in cannabis, try to remember this message and hit the ground running. You can dictate your own future in this burgeoning industry with hard work, ambition, a thirst for learning, and a passion to succeed.
The best place to begin your cannabis career is with an online certification from Cannabis Training University.