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Budding Opportunities: A Look at Careers in Cannabis

Illustrations by Todd Heath

Economics

Budding Opportunities: A Look at Careers in Cannabis

More than ever, the legal cannabis industry is booming — yet starting a career in the popular sector can seem like a daunting task. Here’s a look at the top occupations rapidly expanding market.

The cannabis industry can be divided into a number of categories but the whole process begins with growing the plants. Positions available within cannabis cultivation are specific and require a thorough knowledge of cannabis horticulture. Growers sell their products to dispensaries, collectives and manufacturers. Jobs within these areas can range from very specific to cannabis to more general.

The industry has also evolved to include a variety of ancillary positions in areas like carpentry, insurance, accounting, law, marketing, real estate, security and others that require a general knowledge of cannabis as well as a business perspective. There’s even room for people who are interested in creating their own positions within the industry. With enough experience and background in the cannabis industry, an entrepreneur may choose to start their own business as a collective, delivery service or a host of other types of businesses.

When it comes to getting a foot into the door, the sky is the limit. Keep in mind that a lot of these positions are ones where you can either work for someone else or start your own business. As an entrepreneur your income can vary as it depends on the amount of cannabis flowers, clones, seeds or concentrates you can provide to your retailers. But, before you quit your day job, take a look at these positions to help you build a solid business plan.

Cannabis Cultivator

Positions for cannabis cultivators can be found in small, medium and large indoor and outdoor cultivation companies. Growers are hired at levels from novice to master. A grower could also have his/her own garden or farm.

Responsibilities: Perform all the tasks in the grow including: cloning, transplanting, feeding, defoliation, super cropping, topping, flushing, foliar and preventative sprays, trimming, packaging, proper waste disposal and inventory management.

Qualifications: Knowledge of nutrient requirements, mediums, light sources, temperature control, air flow; plant diseases, insects and fungi, and plant treatment; cannabis plant and genetics.

Training: A degree or certification in agriculture, horticulture, botany, cannabis horticulture. Hands-on experience is a must in this field.

Salary: The sliding scale varies far more here than in any other job in the cannabis industry. A four-light, indoor cycle may yield $10,000. A grower may average five to six cycles a year.

Clone Manager/Clone Supplier

Clone Managers/Suppliers may work in small, medium and large indoor and outdoor cultivation companies and dispensaries. These positions primarily monitor, assess and contribute to overall production of mother plants and clones for growth. A clone supplier could also have his/her own garden, which can be highly profitable.

Responsibilities: Perform all the tasks in the cloning of plants including: caring for mother plants in soil, caring for clone domes, humidity, cutting and labeling clones, maintaining organization and cleanliness, planning.

Qualifications: Knowledge of nutrient requirements, mediums, light requirements, temperature control, air flow; plant diseases, insects and fungi, and plant treatment; cannabis plant and genetics.

Training: A degree or certification in agriculture, horticulture, botany, cannabis horticulture.

Salary: One cutting (clone) can be sold at wholesale for $7 on average. Your standard 10×20 inch black propagation tray can hold sixty 1.5 inch Rockwool cubes or rapid rooters. One cloning tray can average $420. Those numbers are definitive. The amount of trays possible depends on how many mother plants you have and amount of cuttings it can spare. Multiply that with number of trays per month and you may realize that money does grow on trees.

Seed Harvester

Seed Harvesters are more specialized than growers. They clone and harvest marijuana plants to sell seeds to growers.

Responsibilities: Proper seed selection, germination, cross pollination control.

Qualifications: Knowledge of caring for and growing cannabis plants as well as a thorough understanding of breeding, genetics and the cannabis plant life cycle. The ability to generate and produce unique strains requires complete knowledge of crossbreeding.

Training: A degree or certification in agriculture, horticulture, botany, cannabis horticulture.

Salary: Seed harvesting can be a very profitable endeavor. Seeds can sell for $8 – $12 each. Based on an average of $10 per seed, four seeds in a pack and the potential to sell about 10 packs per day, one could potentially make about $2,000 per week. Depending on the size, one plant can yield hundreds to thousands of seeds. In the U.S. there is a great need for this position. As a seed harvester one can also dovetail into crossbreeding and begin to generate and produce unique seed strains that can garner a higher price.

Patient Consultant/Budtender

Description: Patient consultants, or budtenders, work the counter in a dispensary and help patients in choosing and purchasing cannabis.

Responsibilities: Interact and consult with customers/patients, bag and label items for sale, maintain stock in displays, ring up transactions, keep display clean.

Qualifications: Knowledge in the varieties of cannabis strains, concentrates, edibles and methods of ingestion. A medical marijuana patient recommendation is often required.

Training: High School diploma or GED. A certification in patient relations (budtending) is very helpful and often desired.

Salary: $20,000 to $40,000 depending on location. Most dispensaries will start you at $15/hr.

Trimmer

Trimmers take buds from the plants and chop off the larger leaves to present a nice looking finished product.

Responsibilities: Trim the small leaves away from the buds, retaining as much of the valuable flower as possible.

Qualifications: Knowledge of cannabis plant, cannabis strains and trimming techniques. Experienced trimmers are generally preferred because training is time-consuming.

Training: High School Diploma or GED. A certification in cannabis horticulture is very helpful. On-the-job training.

Salary: Dry Trimmers are generally paid by the weight of the finished products (approximately $200 per pound) and Wet Trimmers are paid by the hour (approximately $10-$20 per hour depending on the location).

Delivery Driver

Many medical marijuana patients are unable to get to dispensary locations, making delivery a common option for them. Delivery drivers are often mobile budtenders.

Responsibilities: Interact and consult with customers/patients, bag and label products for sale, maintain stock in displays, complete transactions, planning, driving.

Qualifications: Knowledge in the varieties of cannabis strains, concentrates and edibles. Must be dependable and have a reliable bike/vehicle, clean driving record, car insurance. A medical marijuana patient recommendation is often required.

Training: High School diploma or GED. A certification in cannabis is very helpful.

Salary: $20,000 to $40,000 depending on location and hours worked. Most deliveries will start you at $15/hr. Owning your own delivery service can earn you $50 to $100,000.

Concentrates Processor

A concentrates processor works with concentrated cannabis or the separated resin obtained from the cannabis plant. Resin can be processed into wax, oil, budder, shatter, taffy and nectar.

Responsibilities: Ensure safe extraction methods, preservation of stored cannabis material, cleaning of equipment, proper dosages and packaging.

Qualifications: Strong chemistry background as well as experience working with chemicals and laboratory equipment. Knowledge of cannabis science and proper extraction techniques, including C02, dry ice, water hash, butane, tinctures and capsules.

Training: College degree in chemistry. Certification in cannabis very helpful.

Salary: This is a specialized skill in higher demand. Starting wages range between $20-30/hr. Working for yourself may generate an equivalent of $50/hr.

Edible Creator

Create or make cannabis edible products.

Responsibilities: Properly use and maintain required equipment including oven, table-top mixer, etc., maintain supplies and inventory levels, process finished product to meet quality and regulatory standards, maintain and clean kitchen, other duties as assigned. Implement proper labeling, health and safety codes and regulations.

Qualifications: Knowledge in the varieties of cannabis strains, concentrates and edibles. Baking, cooking or culinary experience and working in kitchen laboratory required.

Training: High School diploma or GED. Culinary degree is preferred and a certification in cannabis cooking is very helpful.

Salary: Most edibles are marked up 100% when wholesaling to a retailer. A beginner cook may earn $15-18/hr. An experienced chef can earn closer to $30/hr.

Originally published in issue 16 of Cannabis Now. LEARN MORE.

 

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