So, You Want To Work In A Cannabis Dispensary?
- 1 Dispensary Jobs and Cannabis Industry Jobs Guide
- 2 Cost Of Living
- 3 Certifications And Background Check
- 4 Basic Hiring Requirements
- 5 Dispensary Jobs
- 6 Cannabis Dispensary Manager
- 7 Marijuana Cultivation Jobs
- 8 Assistant Master Grower Or Junior Grower
- 9 Master Grower
- 10 Extraction Department
- 11 (AKA-Production Department)
- 12 Cannabis Extraction Technician
- 13 Master Extractor
- 14 Final Thoughts
- 15 Resource List
Dispensary Jobs and Cannabis Industry Jobs Guide
So, you want to have a career in the cannabis industry and join the “Green Rush”?
First of all, if you already don’t know this, Cannabis Industry is quite competitive. So it can be tough for you even to get an entry-level position. That’s why I decided to write this guide to help you get the job of your dreams. This guide will examine the following positions and will include an average salary, hiring qualification, and promotion potential.
- Dispensary Manager
- Master Grower
- Bud Trimmer
- Extraction Technician
- Master Extractor
Below are the details of how I got the following factors.
The job descriptions and salaries were discovered using various websites and job boards. For the job descriptions, I referenced both mainstream job sites (Indeed.com, Glass Door, and Zip Recruiter), and cannabis, specialized job boards. (Hempstaff, Leaf Buyer). Additionally, authority cannabis websites (Civilized.life, Herb,co were also used for sources.
Cannabis specialized job sites only showed wide salary ranges, I.E., Hempstaff listed $40,000 to $95,000 as a salary for dispensary managers.
I relied on mainstream job websites, like Glass Door and Indeed.com. These websites, all specifically listed “Average Salaries.”. The average salary totals were from anonymous surveys of current and past employees. In some positions, over a thousand surveys were submitted. So, I am confident that both Indeed and GlassDoor average salary figures are accurate.
Unless stated otherwise, I used both Cannabis Industry job boards and mainstream job boards to calculate the approximate average salary listing.
Cost Of Living
These salaries are for the entire United States, and the cost of living is not factored in these wages. The cost of living in certain cities vary greatly. For example, Bankrate’s cost of living calculator says that if you make $100,000 in Norman, Oklahoma, you will need to make $216,441 in order to keep your same standard of living if you were to move to San Francisco, California.
Additionally, stock options, profit sharing, tips, and rewards are not listed as compensation.
Certifications And Background Check
Depending upon where you are wanting to work, you may be required to be pre-certified from the state. For example, in Nevada, prospective employees have to obtain an “Agent Card“, which requires you to pass a background check. Additionally, your dispensary may require you to pass a background check.
Check your state licensing requirements beforehand if you have any questions concerning licensing.
Basic Hiring Requirements
For Head Marijuana Growing and Extraction Jobs
Legalized marijuana is a heavily regulated, billion-dollar business. As a result, the qualifications asked for the higher-paid cannabis jobs have become more stringent. Growing cannabis out of your grow tent and being self-taught will likely not cut it if you want to work your way on up to a Master Grower or Head Cannabis Extractor.
High level, supervisory Master Grower, and Extraction jobs are increasingly requiring you to have a PhD. in botany, chemistry, or another related degree. There are a few schools that grant degrees in cannabis and hemp cultivation. So, you might be able to enroll in what is essentially a “Master Grower Degree.” However, getting a traditional, agriculture degree may be better for you overall if you ever decided to leave the marijuana industry.
The job requirements for each position evaluated here are not set in stone. Just like in other industries, you may be able to be hired without a degree. If you don’t have the degree or related experience, it may be tough for you to even get an interview. There are though, depending upon where you work or your background, exceptions to the above.
Cannabis Dispensary Jobs Average Salaries
How To Get a Budtender Job
Other than a receptionist or security guard, the Budtender is the first person that you will see when you go into a dispensary. They are the ambassador and evangelist for cannabis and their dispensary. So, as you cannot re-do a first impression, the Budtender’s job is essential.
If you are the stereotypical, slacker, stoner, you won’t last long as a BudTender because you will need to have the following traits:
- Cannabis Strain Knowledge– A Budtender is analogous to a wine sommelier in that they need to have expert knowledge when it comes to the various cannabis strains. As a result, Budtender’s need to know thoroughly all of the strains that their dispensary carries, and be able to relay the characteristics of that particular strain to their customers. Also, you should know the effects of other strains that your dispensary may not carry. The reason for that is that you should be able to recommend similar products to a customer who may ask for a strain that your store doesn’t carry.
- Communication and Listening Skills-Budtenders need to be able to actively listen to customers and help steer them to choose the correct cannabis strain or product for that individual. For example, if someone is new to cannabis, they may recommend that they purchase a strain with a lower THC percentage. Also, without giving medical advice, a Budtender will direct medical marijuana cannabis users to a product that would work best for their particular medical condition.
- Curiosity-The best Budtenders are fascinated with cannabis and the legal cannabis industry.
- Customer Service Skills-The Budtender is the dispensary’s representative. Therefore, Budtender’s need to display excellent customer service. So, when going to work, you need to leave any problems that you have or issues at home and act professionally.
- Empathy– Empathy is an especially important trait for dealing with medical marijuana (“MMJ”) customers who may be injured or sick. You need to realize that the MMJ customer may be frustrated and hurting and do not take anything personally that a client says to them.
- Cannabis Evangelist-You should believe in the benefits of cannabis and be proud to spread how cannabis can help your customer. The best Bud Tenders regularly visit industry websites, take advantage of online training, and, if possible, go to industry events.
- Intelligence: Budtenders must have the ability to learn the pros and cons of all products that your store may carry. For example, they will need to know not only about flowers; but also dabbing, edibles, and, most likely, CBD.
The average salary varies between $27,040 ( Glass Door), to $29,315. (Indeed) Based upon the number of people surveyed, Indeed is more accurate as they had around 2,000 people who answered the survey, and Glass Door only reported 139 people who were surveyed. Depending upon your experience, where you work, live at, etc., your wage may range from minimum wage up to $25 an hour. If your dispensary allows you to accept tips (my dispensary doesn’t), you may make more.
Recommended Job Qualifications
- Education-High School or GED
- Experience-As with most jobs, you will likely have an easier chance of being hired if you are experienced. However, in some cannabis dispensaries, a Budtender is an entry-level position.
- Marijuana Knowledge-You should have at least some general knowledge concerning marijuana. I.E., Strains, General Medical Marijuana Uses, Different Ways To Use Cannabis, etc.
- Passion-You need to be passionate and be clearly able to communicate with customers about marijuana’s positive effects.
A common complaint is that a Budtender is a dead-end position. However, I don’t think that it is any worse than any other similar service jobs in other industries.
A Budtender though is one of the few ways for you to get your foot in the door at a dispensary. As a result, a Budtender could be the best way for you to get hired at a cannabis dispensary, which will allow you to prove yourself and potentially get a promotion.
Cannabis Dispensary Manager
The Dispensary Manager is in charge of the day-to-day operations of the physical, retail, cannabis dispensary. Their job is comparable to a bar manager. For example, bar managers need to ensure that liquor laws are followed products are ordered, inventory is taken, and from time to time, take over the Budtending duties.
They have the following duties
- Managing Employees-Supervise all dispensary staff, which includes hiring and firing employees.
- Training-Makes sure that employees are appropriately trained.
- Legal-Know, follow and ensure that all dispensary employees follow all of the state’s cannabis laws.
- Inventory-Making sure all products are correctly inventoried and ordered.
- Develop SOP-Either to develop or enforce current, dispensary SOP.
- Customer Service-Provide exemplary customer service.
- Bud Tender-Be able when need to perform all, Budtender, duties.
- Cannabis Knowledge: You are the expert; so, you need to kneed to have expert knowledge on all phases of marijuana cultivation and keep up with various trends. This means you should be able to answer most questions that you are asked, and if you don’t know, be able to know where to look up the answer.
A dispensary manager’s compensation range is quite extensive. Per Hempstaff, the ranges for dispensary managers range from $40,000 to $95,000. Indeed through a survey of 188 former and current dispensary managers lists the average salary at $48,633.
Recommended Job Qualifications
- Education: High school diploma or GED is likely mandatory. A college degree is not necessarily required for this position. However, when all else is equal between job candidates, a degree could be a tie-breaker that could get you hired.
- Experience: Previous cannabis dispensary management is not necessarily required if you have management experience in other, customer service, related industries. Restaurant managers can make excellent managers.
- No Experience: Dispensaries often hire their management from within. So, getting a job as Budtender, Assistant Dispensary Manager, and on to a Dispensary Manager can be a way to get this job.
Marijuana Cultivation Jobs
(“Cannabis Trimmer” or “Marijuana Trimmer”)
A bud trimmer’s primary duties are to quickly and accurately trim cannabis plants, weigh and record the plants and make sure the processing area is clean, and other miscellaneous duties.
This is an entry-level position that is not for everyone as the hours are long, and the work is monotonous, physical, and requires focused attention. Bud Trimmers need to be able to do the following:
- Work Quickly And Accurately-You need to quickly and accurately perform your job duties and continuously strive to increase your productivity.
- Be Able To Meet A Quota-You will likely be given a quota that requires you to trim “X” pounds of weed per work shift.
- Hours-You must be willing to work long hours doing a physically demanding job.
- Monotonous-You must be able to deal with doing the same procedure hundreds of times during your workday.
Some Bud Trimmer’s get paid by the pound, which can result in a cannabis trimmer salary being up to $50,000 a year. However, to get to this pay level, you will have to be extremely efficient and most likely willing to travel.
Recommended Job Qualifications
- Education-It will be hard for you to get a job and advance if you do not, at least, have a high-school diploma or GED.
- Experience-Marijuana Trimmer jobs are entry-level positions. However, related knowledge or experience in other, similar, fast-paced environment will be helpful.
A Bud Trimmer is an entry-level position that can help you get into the cannabis industry and allow you to transfer into a higher paying job as a Junior Grower, or potentially an Extraction Technician.
Unless you work for a small cannabis farm, if you don’t have any advanced, related, degree (botany, agriculture, etc.) you will have a hard time being promoted to a high-paying master grower or and an extraction management position. Some dispensaries even prefer to hire the only Ph.D. for master growers or extraction managers.
Assistant Master Grower Or Junior Grower
Assistant Master Growers are considered as a Master Grower apprentice or understudy for the Master Grower. Under the Assistant Master Grower, you have the Junior Grower. The Assistant Master Grower has the following duties.
- Supervisory-Manages the Bud Trimmers and Junior Growers.
- Operations-Maintain, the daily operations of the grow area. I.E., Makes sure the area is clean and that all safety measures are followed.
- Training-Train employees on both growing methods, trimming, Etc.
- Master Grower Backup- Required to take over the duties of the Master Grower, which means they should know how to do all of the Master Growers’ specific job duties.
- Gardening-Perform the day to day duties required for cannabis growing. For example, checking soil PH, watering the plants, fertilizing, etc.
Per Hemp Staff, the compensation ranges from $30,000 to $70,000. The Assistant Master Grower salary will likely be between $45,000 to $75,000, and the Junior Grower’s salary range is from $30,000 to $45,000.
- Education-High School Diploma or GED
- Experience-Experience is likely mandatory if you want to be hired from outside the company. If you’re going to be promoted from within, assuming you don’t have any formal education, you should start out as a Bud Tender and then work to get promoted.
Recommended Job Qualifications
Assistant Growers are required to back up a master grower, which means they should know everything that the Master Grower knows concerning both cultivation and company procedures. Therefore, being hired as an Assistant Grower is the traditional path toward being hired as a Master Grower. So, assuming you do not have any experience, the career ladder to become Master Grower would likely go like this-
Bud Tender->JR.Grower->Assistant Master Grower->Master Grower
How To Become A Master Grower
A quality product is how a cannabis farm makes its money; so, Master Growers among the most highly paid cannabis employees. The Master Grower is directly in charge of the overall management of a cannabis growing operation.
The typical workday, tasks for the Master Grower, involve the following:
- Manage-Manage other junior employees.
- Buying The Plants-Order cannabis plants, and seeds.
- Cannabis Knowledge-Ensure that the different cannabis strains are appropriately grown and have experience in troubleshooting and solving various issues that may occur. Additionally, knowledge of cannabis genetics is needed.
- Irrigation-Ensure that irrigation and other environmental controls are correctly installed and maintained.
- Pest Control-Ensure that pests are adequately controlled.
- Legal-A master grower must make sure that all of the state laws concerning cannabis cultivation are followed.
- Yield-Implement procedures to maximize the crop yield.
- Miscellaneous-Either delegate or personally perform any miscellaneous tasks that are necessary for marijuana cultivation.
Master Grower’s salary varies significantly on various cannabis, specific job boards. For example:
- Production Grower lists a Master Grower’s average salary, based on a survey of 2,000 at $125,000.
- Hempstaff lists the average Master Gardener salary at $90,000.
Recommended Job Qualifications
- Education-A B.S. in botany, horticulture, or another related degree. However, a Master’s degree and even a Ph.D. are valued highly.
- Experience-Depending upon your employer, if you have a degree with related experience, cannabis growing experience may not be required.
- Degree and No Experience-For those with only a degree and little or minimal experience, you will need to likely start as a Grower Assistant and work your way up.
- No Degree, No Experience: Many that have no experience or degree start out as Bud Trimmer and then advance to Grow Assistant and then onto a Master Grower.
Cannabis extraction jobs are some of the most highly paid and desired cannabis dispensary jobs in the industry. The extraction department converts cannabis flowers and trimmings into oils, (AKA-Concentrates) and the final product is commonly used for vape cartridges and edibles.
The extraction process requires you to work with dangerous, explosive chemicals. (I.E., CO2, Butane, Nitrogen, an Ethanol) Therefore, attention to detail is mandatory, and a chemistry background is highly desired for this job.
Cannabis Extraction Technician
How To Become an Extraction Technician
The following are specific traits that will help you get an extraction technician job:
- Mechanically Inclined-You will be dealing with sophisticated, expensive equipment that may break down on occasion. As a result, you should be able to perform necessary repairs and also perform general maintenance.
- Attention To Detail-As the cannabis industry is heavily regulated, you will need to make sure that FDA, OSHA, and other company and state regulations are followed.
- Science Background-Knowledge in chemical, biological, or other related science field is highly valued, and a degree is a huge plus.
- Safety-You will be working with highly flammable, propane, gas, and other material. As a result, you need to be alert at all times when you are working.
- Company Knowledge-You will likely be the backup for the Master Extractor. As a result, you need to be able to learn your employer’s standard operating procedure.
The cannabis extraction technician’s salary range is quite broad. Therefore, I was unable to definitevely find an average salary for this position on any mainstream job website.
For example, Indeed.com’s (GlassDoor didn’t have any salary survey for this job) had an average salary of $16.39 (this hourly wage is likely for an Extraction Tech assistant) or around $35,000, which is $10,000 below the lowest wage on Hempstaff. Additionally, I wasn’t positive that the listings on Indeed and Glassdoor were even in the cannabis industry
So, because of Indeed’s low salary and that this is a highly skilled position, I do not feel that their salary listings were accurate.
Therefore, I used Hempstaff for my average wage resource, which was between $45,000 to $75,000, which averages out to approximately $60,00.
- Education: B.S in chemistry, chemical engineering, or other related degree is highly valued.
- Experience With Degree: This job requires working with complicated, dangerous machinery and highly volatile chemicals. As a result, it can be tough to get a hire without related experience. So, you may have to get a job in another industry and then try to change over to cannabis extraction. Alternatively, although you would be overqualified, you also can try to get an entry-level position in packaging or another job.
- No Experience, No Degree-Unless you have extensive experience in a similar industry, it is likely that you won’t be hired for the extraction technician. So, your best chance is for you to get a job in cannabis packaging, apply yourself, and then attempt to get promoted from within.
Extraction Techs are often promoted to a Master Extractor. However, in some companies, you may have a hard time advancing if you do not have an undergraduate, applicable science degree or only have a B.S degree.
Job Tip-Many companies prefer their Master Extractors to have a science-related, Ph.D. So, try to research the company beforehand to see how much they value degrees.
A Master Extractor makes sure that a cannabis extraction plant is operating efficiently, safely, and that all internal and legal procedures are strictly followed. Depending upon the size of the operation, the Master Extractor may work specialized extraction equipment daily or supervise the extraction process.
Master Extractors may be required to do the following:
- Operate Extraction Machinery-Make sure that all machinery is run efficiently and safely.
- Oversee The Extraction Process- This may include: Design the plant, purchase equipment, set up the lab, develop standard operating procedures (”SOP”) and make sure that legal and company regulations are strictly followed.
- Management-Hire, fire, and train Extraction Technicians and potentially other personnel, such as packagers and anyone who is working at the plant.
- Continued Learning-Keep up to date on the various new procedures and extraction techniques.
I was unable to find any salary surveys for a Master Extractor in Indeed.com or Glassdoor. As a result, Vangst and Hempstaff were used as references. Vangst had salary ranges between $47,000 to $191,000, (based upon a 1,200 survey of legal cannabis companies)
On Hempstaff the wages ranged from $60,000 to $100,000. Hempstaff also stated that if you have a Ph.D. or extensive experience, your pay can be up to $180,000.
Extraction Hiring Qualifications
- Education: The cannabis industry is a billion-dollar business. As a result, many high-paying employers are requiring Master Extractors to have at least a B.S. degree in chemistry, biology, chemical engineering, or another related degree. A Ph.D., in any of the above fields, is also valued highly, and it could be one factor that can get you this job.
- Experience: To be hired straight as a Master Extractor, you will need related experience and likely a degree. If you don’t meet the above qualification, you will need to start as an Extraction Technician and hopefully get a promotion to a Master Extractor.
Click Here, For Reference.
Still A New Industry
In the United States, legalized cannabis and especially so with recreational cannabis is still in its infancy.
Also, cannabis has finally gained mainstream acceptance. I.E., A 2019 Pew Research poll stated that 2/3rd of American’s support Marijuana legalization.
Wild, Wild West
It truly is an exciting time to work for the legalized cannabis industry. The only issue that is holding, total acceptance of marijuana is that cannabis is still under US Laws, considered a schedule 1 drug.
Under U.S. Law, A schedule 1 drug is classified as having no medical purposes. Once this outdated classification is changed, cannabis will indeed hit the mainstream.
Stricter Hiring Qualifications
As I said earlier, medicinal and recreational marijuana is a billion-dollar industry.
As a result, the qualifications, for many cannabis industry positions, are going to become increasingly more stringent. These more stringent hiring qualifications will result in it being harder for the “school of hard knocks” employee to advance to a technical, high paying. (I.E., Master Grower, Extraction Technician, Master Technician, etc.)
As legalized weed becomes more accepted, the cannabis industry will begin to attract more degreed, professional employees.
Many of these professionals, before cannabis reached mainstream acceptance, would have never even thought of working in this industry. The results of cannabis’ newfound acceptance will mean a non-college degree employee will be increasingly competing with someone with a college degree, and if all is equal, the college degreed employee will likely get a job even over an individual who may have a bit more practical experience.
Salary and Dispensary Job Resources
- Indeed.com-General Salary Listings -This link will enable you to search cannabis industry salaries that are doing via surveys of past and current employees.
- Glass Door-General Salary Listings-Same as above
- Extraction Technician Job Description
- Bud Trimmer Job Description
- 5 Best Marijuana Jobs-Article from Forbes Magazine