ZipRecruiter.com CEO Ian Siegal, recently declared that legal weed is the fastest-growing job sector in the United States. Some form of legalized marijuana is available in a majority of the States: 29 and counting. In 2016, nine new states joined the ranks… and that’s when cannabis-focused job recruiting soared.
A Booming Industry and Job Market
The cannabis industry’s full-time and part-time workforce now ranges between 165,000 and 230,000—more than the amount for dental hygienists.
Wait, there’s more. By 2021, that number is predicted to rise to about 414,000.
Cannabis job growth is jumping 445% year over year, Siegel observed at a conference held by U.S. News & World Report. By comparison, tech openings are going up by 245% and healthcare positions are rising at 70%.
By 2025, the U.S. market for legal marijuana could be worth more than $24 billion, supporting more jobs than the U.S. manufacturing sector.
Key Hubs for Cannabis
So, what are the best ways someone can start a job hunt in this rapidly budding industry? Job seekers are ahead of the game if they live in pot-friendly places. So if you’re wondering where to find cannabis jobs, ZipRecruiter will tell you that the top spots—no surprise—are in the states where it’s being legalized.
Of those projected 400,000+ cannabis-related jobs available by 2021, a third will be in California.
Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Jose, and Santa Barbara are all in today’s Top Ten. Other top-listed U.S. cities are Las Vegas, Denver, Seattle, and Portland, OR. And since Florida legalized medical marijuana in 2016, cannabis job markets are opening in Miami and Tallahassee.
Smoking Hot Jobs in the Legal Cannabis Industry
The cannabis space is a world of opportunity, with jobs available at every pay scale. While there are bold entrepreneurs creating jobs, and investment pros and crowdfunding whizzes offering opportunities to raise capital, several jobs in the cannabis industry do require specific skills and credentials, and possibly state permits.
The Plant Pros
Master extractors are sought-after and well paid experts—often biochemists. They handle complex equipment to extract the oils and concentrates from plants.
First comes the cultivation, so growing specialists are also in demand. Master growers keep the crops thriving and the technology working in the greenhouse. Many of these folks are botanists or horticulture experts with an interest in cannabis.
Marijuana trimming and packaging jobs give many people a foot in the door. Weed trimmers take buds off the harvest, while carefully controlling the amount of waste produced. Once trimmed, the buds get sorted and carefully prepared for sale. These jobs are big in Colorado and other states where growing is legal.
Growers need assistants to tending the crops, whether outdoors or in the greenhouse. California will always be the leader in these openings, because of its climate and its established crop economy.
There’s also the job of the marijuana tester. It might not be exactly what you’re thinking. This is an inspector, employed either by a government or firm, who ensures plant products comply with health, safety, and potency rules.
There are plenty of jobs in dispensaries, and you can start at the entry level. These storefront operations need front-end customer service reps to greet and chat with customers, run the cash register, and answer calls. If the dispensary is medical, staff need to verify the customers’ identities and prescriptions. Retail management professionals and pharmacologists are tapped to run the dispensaries.
Arguably the coolest job on the scene belongs to the budtender. As with wines, marijuana comes in many types, with many distinct aromas and tastes. Budtenders can command high hourly rates for guiding customers on the path of harvest knowledge and appreciation. The cool factor is pretty high too for the edibles chefs who infuse cannabis oils into drinks and confections.
Moving and Safekeeping
Medical marijuana delivery is another role. Many customers prefer to receive their products at home, rather than going to a dispensary. It makes sense that private courier services could find lucrative opportunities here.
The armed courier services also find a place in this sector. Watch for increasing numbers of security-related opportunities, to protect crops and cash alike.
Many people in the industry never touch a plant. As in any industry, some are HR administrators. People with people and project management skills find roles in all segments of this space. There are lawyers and paralegals, bookkeepers and accountants. All the state-specific facets of the paperwork and compliance records need someone to keep them straight.
Business-to-business sales reps have a place here too. Pot growers and packagers of edibles need to forge profitable relationships with licensed retailers. The sales rep’s job is to broker the deals with buyers who will pay well and know the rules and regulations pertaining to marijuana. And what industry can do without marketing pros, web designers, social media managers, app developers, and internet technology experts? This industry has long had its publishers too—so imagine the growth in store, now that legalization is in motion in many parts of the United States and all of Canada.
Maintenance people, cleaners, and custodians are being hired. So are electricians and AC technicians. AC itself is a very big part of the growing operations, and we find rental companies with generators now working to supply marijuana growers with the extra energy that big operations require.
And because marijuana businesses need a lot of energy and a lot of capacity, we now see real estate agents focused on finding the right spaces for startups.
How the Sector Could Get Even Bigger
This summer, when adult-use pot is legal throughout Canada, the United States will have every reason to follow suit. More than $130 billion in federal taxes would flow in less than a decade if cannabis became legal throughout the nation. For the government, talk about a sweet leaf!
When federal law shifts to protect weed as a financial asset and an economic boon, watch for even more job opportunities to appear.