Cannabis is officially one of the fastest-growing industries in the United States. With projected revenue of $33 billion for 2022 — compared to $17.5 billion in 2020 — and 428,059 full-time jobs with more being added every day, it’s no surprise that this rapid growth is attracting people looking for a new, exciting opportunity. Current metrics predict that total cannabis revenue will exceed $52.6 billion by 2026, so this newfound gold rush isn’t slowing down any time soon.
This growth is, however, happening pretty fast, so finding a way in can be as challenging as jumping onto a speeding train. If you’re interested in a cannabis career, we have a few tips to help you learn how to get into the marijuana industry.
“That makes things fun, exciting, stressful, annoying, fascinating, and challenging all at the same time.”Bryan Olson, Professor of Professional Development
“This is a young, rapidly growing industry, operating within a complex legal framework. As a result, all of the jobs are challenging in ways that you are unlikely to have dealt with in any of your previous roles,” explained Bryan Olson, Cannabis Community College Professor of Professional Development for “Cultivating Your Career” and Chief People & Administrative Officer at Columbia Care. “That makes things fun, exciting, stressful, annoying, fascinating, and challenging all at the same time.”
Cannabis Jobs and Careers
The cannabis industry may be its own beast, but lessons from other industries are still applicable. For instance, a great way to break in with minimal experience or cannabis training is through part-time, entry-level, and even temporary gigs.
The majority of entry-level positions in the marijuana industry do require a bit of product knowledge and could call for a background check, but considering you’re reading this, you’re already in the right place. Check out a few common starting positions below from working in a dispensary to running a commercial farm.
Ever wonder why newly bought buds are always so pristine and tidy? You can thank trimmers for that. After cannabis buds are harvested, it’s the trimmer’s job to ensure they are free of leaves and stems. Then, depending on state regulations, they may also be in charge of packaging and labeling the final products.
If you have your sights set on cannabis cultivation but have little to no experience, trimming is an excellent and relatively easy way to get started in legal cannabis with a plant-touching job.
Budtender is one of the more recognizable entry-level positions in cannabis. If you can be a server at a restaurant, you can certainly be a budtender. In the simplest terms, they’re the customer service agent jobs at a dispensary. Of all industry entry points, this is probably the most popular way to get a job in the cannabis industry.
From providing guidance on medical marijuana to store maintenance to sales to checkout, the budtender is there to serve the customer and provide cannabis education. If you’re looking to enter cannabis retail or marketing, consider becoming a budtender and look for your first start on local job boards.
Online orders and delivery sales show zero signs of slowing down. In 2021, North Hollywood’s Ganja Goddess Inc. reported that 90% of customers utilized online ordering and delivery services. With that in mind, the need for delivery drivers for big and small businesses will be steadily increasing for the foreseeable future.
Cannabis delivery drivers organize orders, deliver products within their allocated area, and adhere to the state laws and regulations on cannabis transportation. If you want to join the retail side of cannabis, but want an alternative to budtending, delivery driving is another excellent avenue.
Much like fashion, retail, and construction, warehouses are an integral part of the cannabis industry. If you really want to see the inner workings of inventory and cannabis products, consider a job search in a warehouse or packing house.
Until the federal government legalizes marijuana, cannabis companies will have to adhere to a complicated shipping, receiving, and storage process. That’s why a job in a warehouse can help you cultivate a deep understanding of cannabis movement and storage.
Crafting the Perfect Cannabis Resume
A resume exists to showcase skills and market oneself to potential employers, and it’s no different for the cannabis industry. Even if you don’t have career experience in cannabis, a perfectly polished resume can go a long way in helping you.
“If you don’t have cannabis-specific experience, consider opening your resume with a career summary or overview,” suggests Olson. “This couple of sentence section should briefly touch on your relevant skills and your desire to enter the cannabis industry”.
The main mistake people make is a lack of concision. Your resume’s experience bullet points should be succinct and limited to a single line. Make sure to order your resume around the most important skill sets and strongest areas of expertise. For example, if you want to be a budtender, lead with any customer service or sales positions you’ve held.
For skills, it is recommended that you adjust based on application. Make sure you only put skills you genuinely have and avoid simply listing classes you’ve taken. Instead, take concepts from former jobs or schooling and turn them into skills. For instance, if you’ve worked in a warehouse, include inventory management.
Cannabis Cover Letters
Consider your cover letter as a road map to your resume. Remember: the shorter the better. A few paragraphs go a long way.
In the opening paragraph, focus on the specific set of skills that you bring to the company. In the following two or three paragraphs, you can break down each of those skills. Be sure to pick skills that pertain to the job you’re applying to, and briefly showcase how you would apply them in the workplace.
Attending Industry Events—A Must
As is the case with most industries, networking is a key part of cannabis business. What’s the best way to go about networking? Industry events. Luckily for those at the start of their career, cannabis has an abundance of annual trade shows that are dedicated to providing you with the latest information, technology, and industry insights. Here are a few of the biggest national trade shows; there are also several regional events happening throughout the year, so keep an eye out.
MJBizCon — or Marijuana Business Conference — is a Vegas trade show with a focus on, you guessed it, business. With over 35,000 attendees and 140 speakers, MJBizCon is a great way to get a competitive edge in the industry. You can connect with exhibitors, hear about growth projections, stay informed on the latest politics, and so much more. Sign up for their newsletter for more event information.
MJ Unpacked is a little different from MJBizCon because attendance is limited to cannabis retail and brand executives, as well as managers, private investment funds, hedge funds, and venture capitalists. It’s a place where retailers, brands, and investors are able to connect and discuss access to capital. If you’re already in the adult-use cannabis or medical marijuana industry, you don’t want to miss MJ Unpacked.
Lucky Leaf Expo
Lucky Leaf Expo conventions feature speeches from industry leaders and focus on the latest news and advances. Outside of the event, they offer educational resources through social media and their website, so you can continue to learn about the latest and greatest in the industry. If you want to be among the first to hear about cannabis news, you should definitely check out Lucky Leaf Expo.
Getting into the cannabis industry—final thought
The cannabis industry is growing at an incredible rate, even with struggles on a federal level, and with it comes a plethora of new employment opportunities. Getting your foot in the door can seem like a daunting task, but with the tips above, you’ll develop a burgeoning career in no time. Just be patient and keep your eyes peeled.