In 1791, the Slater Mill Cotton Factory in Rhode Island placed an advertisement for employees that read simply: “4 or 5 Active Lads to Serve in Cotton Factory.” It was that simple. No hype, no special skills, and no certifications or licenses required. Employees learned on the job and contributed their personal experiences to the business at hand, providing creativity and innovation to an expanding, profitable industry. That is pretty much where the cannabis industry is now (minus the lack of employee’s rights and child labor laws). It’s not that anybody with breath in their lungs can work in this industry, but candidates shouldn’t be too concerned with a lack of experience specific to cannabis either. Because the industry is still in its infancy, experience isn’t a requirement. As with most jobs, work experience, passion, creativity and intelligence are needed to get in on the ground floor.
We’ve all witnessed people landing great jobs in killer industries simply by answering the call and showing up. Being in the right place at the right time is often a big reason why some people get hired over others. The same can happen in the cannabis industry where employment opportunities abound. A recent Glassdoor report found there were 1,512 cannabis industry job openings in the US in December 2018, a 76 percent increase over the same period in the previous year. According to recent report by Statista, the growth of the cannabis industry through 2020 could account for almost 300,000 new jobs. This industry will continue to expand as more states legalize both medical and recreational uses. But what is required to get a job?
It’s not as complex as you might think. Just as with the cotton, automotive, railroad, steel, and entertainment industries, the cannabis industry is a melting pot of people with various backgrounds collaborating to create innovative solutions in a new emerging industry. In a 2017 Forbes article, “Five Reasons To Hire Someone With No ‘Industry Experience,’” author Liz Ryan states, “When we are forced by circumstance to learn a new industry, we apply what we’ve learned in other industries — and the results can be earth-shaking.” In other words, regardless of your position or why you were hired, you will automatically use your previous skills, knowledge and experience to adapt and overcome. We are all built this way. Since our early existence, we had to fall back on our recollection of how we escaped the last dinosaur in order to survive a bigger, meaner one. The chance of you getting eaten in the cannabis industry is pretty slim, but based on your previous experience, contributions in a new position may innovate foundational procedures for others to follow.
Basically, the cannabis industry is composed of four sections: Cultivation, (typically attracting people with agricultural or botany expertise); Extraction, (chemists, laboratory technicians, and others who process flowers to draw out the oils used to create pills, and edibles); Retail, (dispensaries that need salespeople, customer service reps, etc.); and Ancillary Commerce, (that includes recruiters, marketers, web developers, and others). All candidates with manufacturing, cultivation, managerial, production, and customer service experience will bring value to this industry. In addition, all of these will need the support of people with finance and accounting backgrounds, human resource professional experience, and attorneys, just to name a few.
Reasons for Working with Cannabis
Multiple positions are open in the cannabis industry, from Trimmers making $15 per hour to Directors of Cultivation, making over $250,000 annually. In between, there are compliance managers, sales representatives, dispensary store managers, and “budtenders.” As with all new industries, once you’re in, the sky is the limit. You can set your own course toward what you want to do and where you want to do it. Pay ranges in the cannabis industry are increasing over most other jobs in the US. A 2018 Local Pay Report by Glassdoor found that the median salary for all US jobs is $52,863, but the median salary for the cannabis industry is $58,511. According to a US News and World Report article, cannabis company Terra Tech, has 69 salaried workers making over $88,000 per year.
Another reason for working in the cannabis industry is knowing that the work you perform may be making a significant impact in the lives of others. It can be a rewarding experience knowing that what you do for companies servicing the medical cannabis sector is providing pain relief and other health benefits for those in need. And of course, the obvious bonus of getting in at the ground level of tremendous growth opportunities potential for career advancement and in some cases, company ownership, with businesses that offer it.
Get a Leg Up on the Competition
Some of the same things you would do before applying for any position to any organization, you should do before entering the cannabis industry. It is worth conducting some research to have foundational knowledge about what is expected in this exciting new industry. Search the internet for resources such as blogs, newsletters, and white papers. Set your newsfeed preferences to include anything available about the cannabis industry and continue to read well-researched articles. You will not only woo your future boss, you may be able to offer valuable information to the company.