There is a more professional veneer attached to the cannabis industry these days. Indeed, it is now possible to benefit from a high-paying career in the cannabis sector. As the majority of applicants are finding out, however, it’s not easy to get a job in the marijuana industry.
There are thousands of applicants looking for ways to improve their resume in the hopes of increasing their appeal to prospective employers. What’s the typical assumption when it comes to boosting qualifications for a specific job description? Go to school and get certified for it, of course.
Online searches for the best marijuana schools have spiked in recent years. It is no secret as to why. The American cannabis market alone could be worth between $28 billion and $41 billion per annum by 2028. Add in the Canadian and potential Mexican markets, and there’s no question that cannabis is lucrative.
The real question, of course, is whether or not an online marijuana certification program can help you get a job in the industry.
In this article, we set out to answer this question by reviewing the best online cannabis education programs. Enjoy, and best of luck in your quest.
The 5 Best Online Cannabis Education Schools
[The following information is opinion-based only. Based on our research, the following institutions are the most popular online marijuana schools in the U.S. All information is correct at the time of writing.]
1 – Oaksterdam University
Do an online search for the “best online marijuana schools,” and Oaksterdam University is among the first results. Founded in 2007, the Oakland, California-based institution is the self-proclaimed “first cannabis college in the US.” It claims “educational roots dating back to 1995.” Most of its courses are centered around growing and professional cannabis horticulture. It also offers classes both online and in-person.
It is now possible to benefit from a myriad of free online courses. These include:
- Horticulture Sample Class
- Cannabis, Pain & the Opioid Crisis
Here’s a rundown of their prices and online selections for the ‘paid’ courses:
|Economics Behind Cannabis||$295|
|CBD & Hemp||$495|
|Business of Cannabis||$995|
|Business of Cannabis Cultivation||$295|
Students receive 180-day access for each course.
Oaksterdam also has a wide variety of live classroom options, including:
- Horticulture Semester: $1,995
- Business of Cannabis Semester: $1,995
Both classes meet once a week for 14 weeks. Features include:
- Live stream video lectures
- In-class chatroom
- Breakout sessions
- Emoji chat
- Live screen share & Whiteboard
- Interactive audio
PROS of Oaksterdam University:
- Wide range of courses, which enables students to increase their knowledge of the industry significantly.
- Access to hands-on phases of the plant. Students learn how to germinate, how to plant, how to clone, and how to harvest.
- Reasonably priced.
- The university has a stellar reputation.
CONS of Oaksterdam University:
- The information available is generally for newcomers. Experienced growers won’t get much out of many of the classes.
- Some students suggest that the main benefit was networking rather than detailed knowledge of cannabis.
2 – Cannabis Training University (CTU)
The suggestion is that Cannabis Training University has a more extensive course selection than Oaksterdam University. CTU was formed in San Francisco in 2009, and within two years, introduced an online format. Its Medical Marijuana Certificate Program offers over 5,000 pages of e-book training guides and 200 HD videos.
CTU students get a full year of access from the day they enroll. These days, CTU is headquartered in Denver, Colorado. At present, CTU offers a Master of Marijuana Certification. Its retail price is $597, but the university often has it for a much lower price. At the time of writing, it is $247, and contains the following seven courses:
- Cannabis Jobs, Cannabis Resumes, and Cannabis Business Plans
- Growing Medical Marijuana
- Cooking with Cannabis
- How to Become a Budtender
- How to Open a Dispensary & Delivery Dispensary Service
- Online Cannabis Law Courses
- Marijuana as Medicine: Myths and Miracles Revealed
You also get nine certifications for the price of one:
You get access to an extraordinary amount of information. So much, in fact, that you may need all 12 months of access!
PROS of Cannabis Training University:
- Outstanding value for money. Students receive a remarkable amount of information for the price.
- CTU is widely respected in the industry, with more graduates than any other college. Fifty thousand people have received a qualification from CTU, and many claim it helped them land roles such as that of a budtender.
- The quality of information available is excellent, and students feel challenged.
CONS of Cannabis Training University:
- Many CTU graduates find that the qualification isn’t enough to land high-paid roles.
- It is an online program with no hands-on training.
- Some graduates suggest you need to live in a particular state for the qualification to be worth something.
3 – Clover Leaf University
This company claims it is the oldest certification-issuing cannabis educational institution in Colorado. Clover Leaf University also prides itself on being the first accredited university specializing in phytotechnology to be “approved, regulated and licensed by the Colorado Department of Higher Education’s Private Occupational School Board.”
It offers an expansive selection of courses and certifications. These include state-specific training programs and workshops, cannabis industry job training, and seminars on growing and cultivation. You can choose the field you want to become certified in.
Founded in Denver, Colorado, in 2009, CLU offers an enormous number of standalone courses, including, but not limited to:
|Cannabis Budtender Certification||$600 + 3% Merchant Processing Fee|
|Dispensary Management Procedures||$800 + 3% Merchant Processing Fee|
|Cannabis Cultivation 101||$600 + 3% Merchant Processing Fee|
|Cannabis Cultivation 102||$800 + 3% Merchant Processing Fee|
|Industrial Hemp Cultivation||$600 + 3% Merchant Processing Fee|
Each one of these courses consists of a 4-hour classroom lesson.
You can view the entire catalog here. CLU’s famed Phytotechnology/Horticulture Training course involves many of the topics listed above. Interested parties can also apply for a job at the university! Students can participate in workshops and webinar classes. CLU says that 12-14-week Semester Programs and Webinar Classes are coming soon.
PROS of CLOVER LEAF UNIVERSITY:
- Unlike many of its competitors, CLU offers marijuana-specific certifications.
- The range of courses is enormous and rather detailed.
- Although students must work hard, they don’t have to dedicate an enormous amount of time.
- CLU is approved to operate in the state of Colorado as a school.
CONS of CLOVER LEAF UNIVERSITY:
- The courses are relatively expensive compared to other colleges.
4 – Trichome Institute
The Trichome Institute is another online cannabis school that operates out of Denver, though they also offer classes in Portland, Oregon. It was invited to help create the Responsible Vendor Program for the marijuana industry in Colorado in 2016. The institution is also certified by the Colorado Marijuana Enforcement Division (MED) to train and certify people and businesses in the weed industry.
Here is a look at the Trichome Institute’s courses:
|Cannabis Consultant Training||$249||Approx. 4 hours, includes 2.5-hour video and 100-question exam. Students require 70% to pass.|
|Professional Interpening||$249||9 video sessions approx. 5.5 hours long & an 80-question multiple-choice final exam.|
|Spanish Interpening||$249||9 video sessions approx. 5.5 hours long & an 80-question multiple-choice final exam.|
|Cannabis for All||$42||N/A|
|Extractions and Concentrates Fundamentals||$149||Estimated exam time is 2.5 hours|
For all courses, students receive access for 180 days. The Interpening course is marketed as ‘The First Ever Cannabis Sommelier Certification.’ Those who earn this particular qualification report feeling a greater appreciation for the nuances of the plant.
PROS of the Trichome Institute:
- Can complete a certification in as little as one day.
- The courses are reasonably priced.
CONS of the Trichome Institute:
- Not a massive selection of programs/certifications/courses to choose from.
5 – THC University
If you’re a complete cannabis rookie, THC University is a low-cost way to boost your knowledge. However, certifications from here carry even less weight than others on the list. THC University offers eight certificate programs and 150+ hours of classes. It claims to have almost 11,000 student accounts, and 200 ‘graduates’ in employment.
THC University changed its price structure, and now allows unlimited access to all of its courses for $187. Once you are certified, you receive a certificate of completion by email. THCU requires a pass rate of 90% on all exams. In general, you can expect to finish in 3-6 months. Here are the programs:
- Introduction to CBD
- Terpenes: The Healing Link Between Essential Oils and Cannabis
- Budtender Basics
- Marijuana 101 Certification
- Grow Basics Certification
- Horticulture Specialist Certification
- Cannabis Business Certification
- Colorado and Washington Safety and Regulations Certification
PROS of THC UNIVERSITY:
- It is an inexpensive way to dip your toe into the world of cannabis.
- THCU has partnered with some of the most respected names in the industry.
- It features highly-regarded growers such as Jorge Cervantes.
CONS of THC UNIVERSITY:
- Some students claim that the information was basic and outdated in places.
- You are highly unlikely to get a job just because you earned a qualification from this institution.
Will an Online Cannabis Education Certificate Increase Your Chances of Getting a Job?
Realistically, online cannabis education qualifications don’t look particularly impressive to prospective employers. There are dozens of options, and many offer certifications that aren’t worth the paper they are written on.
An employer probably isn’t going to base a hiring decision on whether an applicant has an online certificate in “Cannabis Responsible Vendor Safety Training.”
Generally, employers want candidates with hands-on experience. This means work within the industry as an employee, as an intern, in sales, or even a volunteer at a seasonal grow farm. There are thousands of dispensaries located in the United States. States such as Colorado and California have the highest number, but also the largest competition for places.
Marijuana companies want people capable of selling as much weed as possible. It is unlikely that you will learn this from a two-hour online course! You have a better chance of earning employment by gaining experience by any (legal) means necessary.
Also, bachelor’s (or graduate-level) degrees in either business or natural science (biology, chemistry, botany, horticulture, etc.) are appealing to most employers. Bear that in mind before you spend hundreds (or thousands) of dollars on an online certificate.
Final Thoughts on the Best Online Cannabis Education Schools
In summation, online cannabis education schools can provide you with new insight and knowledge into the industry. However, the certificates you earn are unlikely to boost your employability significantly. Overall, your best chance of landing a job in the marijuana sector is to gain some practical experience.
That said, the material offered at most of these institutions is top-notch. Many of the courses are designed (or taught) by industry legends like Jorge Cervantes and Ed Rosenthal.
If you’re a complete cannabis newbie and can’t tell the difference between a trichome and a terpene, you could do worse than checking out one of the above schools. That said, you can learn a tremendous amount about cannabis and CBD on WayofLeaf for free! For instance, you can find out if there are any marijuana industry jobs near you. We also outline the highest-paid positions in the cannabis sector.