There is zero doubt that the marijuana industry is booming, and its growth is escalating at an even faster rate than you think. According to a report by New Frontier Data in 2017, the legal marijuana industry could have more high paying cannabis job opportunities than the manufacturing industry by 2020!
Bear in mind that this report was drawn up before full legalization in the state of California, and several other states have joined the party since. At the time of writing, 33 states plus Washington D.C. have legalized medicinal marijuana, and 10 of these states (along with D.C.) have legalized the herb for recreational use.
In other words, it is hardly a stretch to say that the marijuana industry could actually exceed what seemed like lofty growth predictions just 18 months ago. It could be worth $57 billion by 2028, and there were 250,000 full-time or part-time cannabis jobs in the sector by the middle of 2018. In 2017, job postings in the industry increased by over 400% – some increase over the previous year’s growth of just 18%!
In other words, the future looks pretty damn green. In this guide on the highest-paying cannabis jobs, we outline five of the best positions that you can expect to find in the industry. If you believe you have what it takes though, you’d better start applying now because these vacancies are going to vanish in a heartbeat!
10 Highest-Paying Cannabis Jobs (Almost No Industry Experience Needed for #8!)
Believe it or not, jobs in the Cannabis industry are not reserved just for those with a science degree or experts with a massive amount of pot-related experience. There is indeed a whole range of jobs that offer an enormous amount of opportunities, and some of them require little more than a tireless work ethic and a “can-do” attitude.
And of course, with the industry steadily progressing at an unprecedented rate, there has never been a better time to hop on the train and get a job in the Marijuana industry. Let’s take a look at 10 of the best cannabis jobs within the global industry at the moment:
1 – head grower
Working as a Head Grower, or as they are sometimes known Master Grower, is arguably one of the most vital cannabis jobs within the industry. Head Growers oversee the entire growing process, including everything from staffing to a plant’s nutrition, without them the whole Cannabis market would fail to exist.
It is the role of the Head Grower to coordinate the daily running of the entire Cannabis farm, ensuring that all staff knows exactly what they should be doing and that everybody is knowledgeable about the strict laws and regulations that must be followed at all time. They must also keep meticulous records of the growing process from the beginning of each plants life to the end, ready for compliance inspectors should they ask to see them.
A Head grower is the person who makes the final decisions on all matters across the farm, including the planting procedures for each strain and their maintenance schedule, as well as ensuring that equipment is well maintained and in line with safety standards. A grower must keep up-to-date with the latest strains and how they are grown, overseeing on-site cloning and staff training.
A Head Grower can expect to earn $100,000 plus per year; this is due to the extremely high level of expertise that is required to succeed in the role. In order to work your way up to such a prestigious position within the industry, you will need experience in horticulture, as well as being able to show a solid understanding of different strains and how they are grown. You will, of course, also need the necessary qualifications to support this.
Quick Fact on this High-Paying Cannabis Job | Up until recently most of the best Grow Masters came from California because they were given the time to grow their reputation and develop their skills. Remember, the Golden State was the very first to legalize medical marijuana. However, now that dozens of states have legalized the herb, it will be possible to find master growers in places such as Colorado.
2 – Master extractor
When the marijuana sector was in its infancy, the vast majority of people associated cannabis with its dry herb form. However, extracts and concentrates now make up almost half of the market in some stores. Also known as ‘concentrate makers,’ Master Extractors take cannabis plants and turn them into oils, hashish, and other concentrates. You need only apply if you are known for your attention to detail.
In some states, marijuana is only legal in extract form. Although there are sophisticated machines that perform the extraction process, a company needs an individual with the skills and experience to ensure that the products being delivered are up to scratch.
Of course, there is a rapidly increasing demand within the industry for skilled Master Extractors; this is the result of a rise in the popularity of vaping, as well as a growing industry for medicinal oils. Also, as industry regulations become stricter more and more companies are only considering the very best of the best, sometimes requiring candidates to have a Ph.D. within a relevant field. If you do happen to have the necessary qualifications and manage to secure such a highly skilled role however, it can be a richly rewarding experience.
For example, it is the Master Extractor’s responsibility to oversee the daily running of the extraction laboratory and ensure that strict procedures are followed in line with government regulations. Using their expert knowledge, they are tasked with managing the entire extraction process, including everything from staff, the safe use of equipment to ensuring that accurate amounts of THC and CBD are extracted ready to be used in the manufacturing of oils and vape juices.
Quick Fact on this High-Paying Cannabis Job | As you might expect, you can’t walk in off the street and get this job. Extraction Technicians may need a Bachelor’s Degree in Engineering, Biochemistry, Chemistry, Natural Sciences, or a related field. However, some firms will only hire people with PhDs! If you are qualified and ready, you can earn up to $125,000 a year.
3 – Edibles Chef/edibles expert
This is an interesting cannabis job that involves a lot more than simply using weed for baking. As an Edibles Chef, you are not only responsible for creating all manner of cannabis-infused foods; you must also ensure that marijuana concentrate is added in precise doses to attain specific effects.
The last few years have seen a huge rise in the popularity of edibles, and in turn, many new and creative ways that Marijuana can be enjoyed in an edible form have been discovered. Now is the ideal time for experienced chefs who are interested in the science behind cooking and enjoy inventing new and unique recipes to delve into the edible Cannabis industry. In just the same way that it is a head chef’s job to create new dishes that excite customers, edible chefs work to develop Marijuana-infused foods that entice customers to try new ways of consuming Marijuana.
Working as the head of an edibles department is not all fun and food experimentation, they are also expected to oversee the production process of their delicious creations ensuring that final products include the correct dosage and that follow regulations. Working with a combination of food and Marijuana requires you to stay up-to-date on the latest laws and regulations in both areas and put these into practice.
Quick Fact on this High-Paying Cannabis Job | While a background in cooking is extremely helpful, the most important qualification is a detailed knowledge of weed. Remember, you have to measure everything with precision for the sake of safety. Then there is the small matter of knowledge of state and municipal cannabis codes, which change like the weather. As an Edibles Chef, you can earn anywhere from $50,000 to $100,000 per annum.
4 – Store Manager
In this role, you are overseeing the everyday operations of a cannabis dispensary. Your responsibilities include communicating with vendors and the police, dealing with product returns, and managing inventory. As a Store Manager, you must also hire, fire, train, and manage budtenders.
Quick Fact on this High-Paying Cannabis Job | Although a Bachelor’s Degree is preferred by many employers, you may get the job if you have a High School Diploma. Your chances will be enhanced by experience selling retail or luxury goods. The rate of pay is wide-ranging and depends on how big the company is. You can expect a minimum of $60,000 per annum, but that rate could rise to as high as $150,000.
5 – Dispensary Owner / medical marijuana dispenser
When it comes to selling marijuana, why not get in on the ground floor? Rather than hanging around street corners trying to sell dime bags to people, you will have a legitimate store as long as you live in a state where weed is legal. Remember, the law varies depending on where you live, and as it changes so often, you need to keep abreast of developing situations or risk falling foul of the law.
On the one hand, you are in possession of a role that could bring you a fortune as the cannabis industry continues to grow. However, being a Dispensary Owner is extremely hard work. First and foremost, you have to ensure the store is being well-run each day, which means finding a Store Manager you can trust.
Then there are the legal and banking headaches to contend with. While weed is becoming legal across the United States, it is still federally illegal which means many banks don’t associate with businesses in the marijuana industry. As a result, it is possible that you will have large sums of money on the premises, making you a prime target for thieves.
Remember, you also don’t get to make the same business deductions enjoyed by owners of companies in other sectors. You may have to front a seven-figure sum before your dispensary starts showing a profit. However, if you have the knowledge and work ethic and are prepared to take a financial risk, the potential reward is incredible.
Quick Fact on this High-Paying Cannabis Job | Working as a Dispenser is a customer-facing role, which requires both sale skills as well as in-depth knowledge of different strains and products. A Dispensers role can involve working with stores, answering customer’s questions, selling products and ensuring that stock is correctly stored to meet regulations. More experienced Dispensers work on a larger scale, normally alongside Brand Managers, offering clients product information and advising on suitable stock for their businesses.
For higher level Dispenser positions having experience with pharmacology is an advantage, as it demonstrates that you are a true expert within your field and that you can pass this knowledge on to customers. Salaries vary with inexperienced store workers starting on an average of $20,000, while experienced Dispensers with degrees can earn up to $100,000.
6 – Lab Technician
As more and more states legalize Marijuana, regulations surrounding the industry are becoming much more rigorous, and in turn, the demand for Lab Technicians is increasing. In most countries it is illegal for products containing Marijuana to be sold unless they have been subjects to testing by a third-party laboratory, firmly placing Lab Technicians as a core cog at the center of the Marijuana industry.
It is the job of a Lab Technician to test everything from freshly harvested buds to ready to be sold edibles. Depending on what is being tested and at what point within the manufacturing process this is taking place, tests can involve checking THC and CBD levels as well as for pesticides and contaminants. It is a technician’s job to ensure that products conform to regulations and expected standards, giving them the final seal of approval before they can be sold.
Quick Fact on this High-Paying Cannabis Job | Companies are increasingly opting to have their own in-house laborites, giving them an edge over competitors, as they can test every element of their final products throughout the entire production process, guaranteeing their customers the highest possible standards. As a resulting Lab Technicians can choose to either work for such companies or for external testing companies and government agencies. A Lab Technician’s salary can vary drastically, depending on who they work for, their level of expertise and their seniority within the lab.
7 – Quality Control Inspector / Packager
The role of Quality Control Inspector is a varied one, depending on who you work for, but the overarching aim is to ensure that products being sold to the general public comply with health and safety standards, meet industry regulations and abide by the law.
As a Quality Control Inspector one possible route is working for a company that produces and sells Marijuana, this involves being the person responsible for putting protocols in place that ensure the entire company is working to set standards. They are also to be expected to maintain detailed paperwork that demonstrates these standards are being met to any external inspectors.
Alternatively, Quality Control Inspectors can choose to work for a government agency, as an external inspector. As part of this role, they are expected to carry out routine inspections of farms, factories, and warehouses ensuring that health and safety standards are being met and that companies are working within state laws.
Having a science-based degree is an advantage when applying for jobs as an inspector, as well as being an expert on the most up-to-date laws within the industry. The salaries of Quality Control Inspectors varies depending on whether you work for a private company or a governmental agency, as well as your previous experience in similar roles.
Quick Fact on this High-Paying Cannabis Job | Working as a Packager might not seem like the most exciting of jobs at first, but it is a fantastic way to break into one of the fastest growing industries, where you can learn on the job and rise through the ranks. It is the role of packers to work efficiently and safely wrapping and packaging products ready for distribution to customers and stockiest, while also conforming to regulations. Pay can vary with salaries starting around $17,000 and the potential to earn up to $50,000 with experience.
8 – Cannabis Industry Writer
Increased interest in the Marijuana industry has seen the demand for specialist writers explode, both within areas of journalism and in-house copywriters. Companies are having to compete more than ever to get their products noticed and are as a result are focusing on copywriters who can help their products stand out from the crowd. It is the role of in-house copywriters to create detailed product descriptions and promotion material, which attract customers and showcase the company at its best.
In order to secure high paid cannabis jobs within this field, you are going to need to demonstrate a sound understanding of the Marijuana industry and current research. Having experience within other areas of journalism is also going to be an advantage, as well as a portfolio of work that you can use to demonstrate your skills. As a writer you can expect to earn anything from $30,000 all the way up to $100,000, depending on who you write for and the level of knowledge required. Writing highly researched scientific articles are going to pay more than writing simple product reviews.
Quick Fact on this High-Paying Cannabis Job | As a writer there is also growing demand for journalists and reviews, writing both product reviews and scientific articles on the latest research and strains. Writers can opt to either work for traditional paper magazines or the ever-expanding online content market.
9 – Brand manager
Brand Managers do not work directly with Cannabis, with it being much more of an office based job, organizing everything from promotion events to client lunches. It is the role of a Brand Manager to build relationships with potential clients and sell their company and its products, therefore having good communication skills is key. Brand Managers are also be expected to attend trade shows, manage social media campaigns and use your creativity to promote their company.
Having a marketing degree is a huge advantage and will allow you to enter the field on a much higher pay scale. Experience within either marketing or advertising is a must, as well as being able to demonstrate an extensive understanding of the Marijuana industry.
Quick Fact on this High-Paying Cannabis Job | The average starting salary is around $50,000 with the potential to earn $200,000 plus depending on your experience.
10 – Harvester and Cultivator
Working as a Harvester or Cultivator can range from entry-level positions that involve trimming plants, to a high level of expertise overseeing the daily care of plants. Working as a Cultivator is an ideal position for experienced gardeners who are looking to move into an ever-growing market and expand their earning potential.
The main role of Trimmers and Cultivators is to manage the daily care of plants, ensuring that they are growing to their full potential. A typical day’s work includes pruning plants, checking the soil’s ph levels and monitoring a plants general health. Having knowledge of different strains and their growing needs is required for high-level positions.
It is the role of harvesters to gather crops either on a farm or within grow houses and to then sort and weigh buds ready for transportations to manufactures. The role of harvesters can also include trimming buds with precision ensuring that they look visually appealing, ready to be sold.
Quick Fact on this High-Paying Cannabis Job | For entry-level, trimmer and harvester salaries start at around $17,000, while more senior cultivators can earn up to $50,000 and potentially more depending on the size of the farm.
Cannabis Jobs: Final Thoughts on the Highest-Paying Positions
In case you’re wondering why the role of Budtender is not on the list, it’s because the role is an entry-level one. Depending on where you work, you may make $12-$13 per hour. Some firms pay their Budtenders salary, however, so depending on your expertise you could earn upwards of $60k a year (or more) — if you’re super talented.
As a Budtender, you need to learn pretty much everything there is to know about cannabis, including niche things like learning the right cutting technique to ensure that nothing important from the plant is wasted. Next, you have to separate and weigh everything. It is a tedious role, but on the plus side, you have the chance to perhaps one day climb up the career ladder.
As an industry, cannabis jobs in the marijuana sector are very much “coming out of the darkness and into the light.” There are even websites such as Cannajobs and 420careers specifically designed for posting marijuana industry roles.
Furthermore, the removal of Jeff Sessions as Attorney General is the latest in a long line of boosts for cannabis legality, and pretty much everyone is expecting a host of new high paying marijuana jobs to be created. Although it will be a long time before pot is finally made federally legal as a medicine, the industry is going to continue growing, and an increase in career opportunities is an obvious beneficial effect.
Despite what many people might think, there is a myriad of different occupations available for those looking forward to getting a high-paying Cannabis job and working in the industry. Just make sure that you don’t go into it thinking it’s going to be nothing but smoking Weed and relaxing; the Marijuana industry is a multi-billion dollar enterprise, so you can expect to work just as hard as with any other industry.