At this same time last year, New Frontier Data published a report predicting that the cannabis industry would generate over 280,000 jobs. But that was in 2017. Today, that number is nearly doubled. A report released in January by ArcView Market Research puts cannabis employment opportunities at 414,000 by 2021.
These potential employment rates are based on the assumption that every state in the country will have legalized marijuana in one way or another by 2021. “This is an optimal view of the market that demonstrates what potential job creation could be if legal cannabis is operating freely and openly,” Giadha Aguirre De Carcer, founder, and CEO of New Frontier Data, said in her report last year.
That statement still rings true today. Cannabis jobs in Colorado contributed to their having one of the lowest unemployment rates in the country. In California, where medical and recreational marijuana is also legal, it is predicted that the industry will generate 99,000 jobs throughout the state.
The cannabis industry does not generate nearly half a million jobs overnight. The exponential growth of 150 percent dramatically impacts future employment here in the United States. An industry that is expected to grow that quickly needs a sizeable staff to maintain it.
Starting a career in cannabis involves more than just opening a dispensary and lighting up. Every employment opportunity is expected to be available, from entry-level positions to established niche careers in specific sectors of the industry. There is a demand for professional experience in growth, production, extraction, as well as ancillary career opportunities, including advertisement, consulting, and research and development.
Below is a quick summary of career opportunities cropping up as cannabis creeps its way through the legal system:
Entry-Level Cannabis Careers
Bud trimmers and budtenders are the top two positions that will make up a majority of the employment opportunities. Both positions put employees in direct contact with cannabis plants but require little-to-no previous experience.
Bud trimmers work in greenhouses and production facilities, preparing flowers for retail sale. Budtenders, like bartenders, work the counter in dispensaries, handing out medicinal and recreational pot to customers. At entry-level, these two positions are projected to make anywhere between eight and twelve dollars an hour.
Although experience is not really necessary for these positions, many states still require employees to be licensed to handle and distribute marijuana. For production, there are training and certification opportunities for bud trimmers who want to stand out from the rest of the employee pool. For retail, budtenders should be trained with extensive knowledge of strains to answer customer questions.
Experience Needed in Cannabis Careers
Beyond hourly wages and novice opportunities, niche careers in cannabis are at the heart of the industry and can pull in salaries upwards of $250,000 a year. Extractors and master growers are among the most sought-after positions in cannabis.
Golden Leaf Holdings (CSE: GLH) (OTC: GLDFF), a signature cannabis oil producer based in Oregon, sees master growers as the most valuable employee on a team. “I know some master growers who make more than $200,000,” Golden Leaf CEO William Simpson told CNN in a recent interview. “That is going to be a very sought after, difficult position.”
But you do not need to be a botanist or a horticulturist to earn real money in cannabis. Social media management is a growing career opportunity in other sectors, but for cannabis, it is especially lucrative. Since marijuana is still illegal in some states, advertising opportunities are limited. Using social media is often the only way distributors can reach their customer base.
MassRoots Inc (OTC:MSRT) is one such company that unites marijuana production and retail with social media and education. The MassRoots brand encompasses dispensaries and strains, but they also offer positions for writers, consultants, and marketers. Their starting salaries are in line with experience, meaning there are opportunities to earn real money.
The United States Department of Labor predicts that industry employment, in general, will grow to 11.5 million jobs by 2026. The cannabis industry will no doubt have a hand in that growth.