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So, You Want To Work In A Cannabis Dispensary?

Dispensary 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, the 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 for helping you get the job of your dreams in the cannabis industry.
This guide will examine the following positions, which will include an average salary, hiring qualification, and promotion potential.

  • Budtender
  • Dispensary Manager
  • Master Grower
  • Bud Trimmer
  • Extraction Technician
  • Master Extractor

Job Descriptions

The job descriptions and salaries were discovered using various websites and job boards. For the job descriptions, I referenced bother mainstream job sites (Indeed.com, Glass Door and Zip Recruiter), and cannabis, specialized job boards. (HempstaffLeaf Buyer). Additionally, authority cannabis websites (Civilized.life, Herb,co were also used for sources.

Salary Calculations

Cannabis specialized job site only showed wide salary ranges, I.E., Hempstaff listed $40,000 to $95,000 as a salary for dispensary managers. 

Glass Door and Indeed.com all specifically list the "Average Salaries.", which were figured 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. So, unless stated otherwise, both the above sites use those sites' average salary listing. 

During the dot.com days stock options made some employees millionaires.   However, many also saw any company stocks turn worthless.

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.

Dispensary Job Info

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 states licensing requirements beforehand if you have any questions concerning licensing. 

Basic Hiring Requirements

 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. For example, for some Master Grower Positions require you to have a Ph.D. in botany or another related degree. 

However, 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.

The various job specifications are the recommended minimum requirement. So, if you don't have the degree or related experience, it may be tough for you to even get an interview.


Cannabis Job Salaries



Dispensary Jobs​​​​

Budtender Jobs

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 will 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 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 hurting or in a foul mood. 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. For example, the best Bud Tenders should 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.
Bud Trimmer Job

Compensation 

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 to customers about marijuana's positive effects.  

Promotion

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 that is open to the general public.
The Dispensary Manager's 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. 
Dispensary Manager Job Description

Compensation

 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 you have necessarily required if you have management experience in other, customer service, related industries. Restaurant management 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 head, Dispensary Manager can be a way to get this job.

Marijuana Cultivation Jobs

Bud Trimmer (Cannabis 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.

Compensation

Average Salary for the Bud Trimmer is  $27,913 on Indeed.com, and Hempstaff has the Bud Trimmer salary range from $20,000 to $25,000. 

Some Bud Trimmer's get paid by the pound, which can result in some Bud Trimmer's making 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. 

Bud Trimmer Job

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-A  Marijuana Trimmer is an entry-level position. However, related knowledge or experience in other, similar, fast-paced environment will be helpful.

Promotion

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.

However, 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. In fact, some dispensaries prefer to hire only PhD for master growers or extraction managers. 


Assistant Master Grower
and Junior Grower

The Assistant Master Grower and Junior Grower will be evaluated. The Assistant Master Grower is an 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 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. 

Compensation

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.
Assistant Cannabis Grower

Recommended Job Qualifications

Promotion

Assistant Growers are required to back up a master grower, which means they should know everything that the Master Grower known 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


Master Grower

A quality product is how a cannabis farm makes its money; so, they are among the most highly paid cannabis employees. As a result, 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.

Compensation

 Master Grower's wages vary significantly on various cannabis, specific job boards. For example: 

Master Cannabis Grower

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.  

 


Extraction Department

(AKA-Production Department)

Extraction is one of the most highly paid and desired Cannabis jobs. The extraction department converts cannabis flowers and trimmings into oils. (AKA-Concentrates) 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


The following are specific traits that will help you get a job as a cannabis extraction technician:

  • 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 employers standard operating procedure. 

Compensation

An extraction technician’s pay varies widely. Additionally, I was unable to definitely find an average salary for this position on any mainstream job websites.

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 n 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.

extraction Assistant

Hiring Qualifications

  • 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.

Promotion

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.

Master Extractor

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. 

Compensation

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 PhD. or extensive experience, your pay can be up to $180,000.

Master Extractor

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.


Final Thoughts

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, I feel 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.)  

Prediction

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.


Resource List

Salary and Dispensary Job Resources


Cannabis Specialized Job Boards

Mainstream Job Board (All of These Are Good Resources For Researching and Finding Cannabis Jobs)