Sep 12, 2019

Cannabis Industry Recruiting Trends

To anyone looking for new career opportunities, the cannabis industry is one of the most promising industries to consider these days. Just a few years ago, only the most adventurous would consider opportunities with the handful of newly-legal pot businesses popping up at the time. These days, it’s hardly news that weed is becoming big business.

The stigma of working with marijuana business is fading rapidly. For professionals looking for their next career move, could cannabis provide the perfect opportunity?

Just how fast is the marijuana industry growing?

If you live in one of the 11 states that have made pot legal, the growth of marijuana business is readily apparent. It might be surprising to some just how fast the legal cannabis industry is expanding. In 2018, jobs in the industry grew by 44%. And that big growth followed an already-impressive 21% growth in 2017.

Those numbers account for companies that sell or produce cannabis products; not included are the many industries that work directly with those companies, such as security or accounting firms. Taking such tangential fields into consideration, the growth is even bigger than the substantial numbers indicate.

Currently, legal weed is the “fastest-growing labor market in the U.S.” — a trend researchers expect to continue at an even more rapid pace as legalization spreads to more states. With the likelihood of some type of federal marijuana reform in the near future, don’t expect it to slow down for quite some time.

If you’re considering a move, the news gets better still. Not only are there many opportunities—the pay is really good too. According to the job-search website Glassdoor, the median salary for cannabis industry jobs is $58,511—that's more than 10% higher than the median across all jobs.

Hottest legal weed job opportunities

When the average person thinks of cannabis jobs, they usually think of “budtenders” — those who work behind the dispensary counters assisting patrons with selecting the right cannabis products for their needs. While this is certainly one of the more common positions in the industry, there is plenty of opportunity beyond retail and customer service. More than half the currently-available openings, in fact, are for professional and technical positions, according to Glassdoor. Their research points to an even greater need for such job roles as the industry matures and gains broader acceptance.

Executive and technical positions, unsurprisingly, offer the highest pay in the weed game. Someone with a chemical engineering background, for example, might consider a position as an Extraction Lab Director—a career that can provide a salary up to $190k or more. On the executive side, a VP of Operations can command a salary of $200k+.

Cannabusiness entrepreneurs looking to hire for such positions should consider the expected level of experience and training they require. For compensation packages at the higher end, companies should expect a Master’s degree and several years of related experience. The salary range is quite broad, however, for candidates with less experience or without a post-graduate degree. And looking at experience, keep in mind too, that this is a new industry; many highly-qualified candidates will not necessarily have cannabis experience so you might look at experience related to the position more than the industry itself.

What are the most in-demand positions?

At the entry-level, budtender positions are the most common and serve as a common entry to the industry, requiring little experience.

With rapid growth in the industry, though, comes a demand for a higher level of professionalism and searching traditional job boards gives a good indication of the roles cannabis companies are currently seeking to fill. Searching for the word “cannabis” plus various job titles lets us see which positions have the highest demand.

Searching for “cannabis” along with the following terms gives these results:

  1. Management: 188,000 results
  2. Operations: 128,000 results
    • COO: 5,850 results
    • VP of Operations: 5,500 results
    • Director of Operations: 11,600 results
  3. CEO: 25,300 results
  4. Sales: 191k results
    • Sales executive: 6,170 results
    • Outside sales: 13,900 results
    • Sales manager: 22,800 results
    • VP of sales: 3,470 results
  5. Finance: 31,700 results
    • CFO : 4,360 results
    • Accountant: 19,200 results
    • Controller: 13,900 results
  6. Compliance: 47,800 results
    • Compliance officer: 6,340 results
  7. Human Resources: 47,400 results
  8. Marketing: 111k results
    • CMO: 599 results
    • VP of marketing: 2,130 results
    • Marketing manager: 14,600 results
Looking at these numbers, you can see that sales and management are where most of the opportunities lie, though operations and marketing are not far behind. You might have noticed that there are relatively fewer opportunities in compliance; you can probably anticipate that this will change as states (and eventually the feds) begin to figure out exactly how to regulate this industry. Seeing recent legal challenges in Canada’s cannabis industry, it seems inevitable that companies will need to focus more strongly on following the rules.

If you are a cannabis entrepreneur looking at your company’s future growth, these are the positions your competitors are looking to fill. If you are a professional thinking about getting into this industry, you now have a clear idea of the opportunity it offers. Now is a great time for you to explore a career in the legal marijuana business.


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