If you paid any attention to the tweeter-in-chief, Donald Trump, last week, you are aware that the United States added 304,000 new jobs in January. But the truth is these jobs are not really new at all. It’s just more of the same low-paying occupations that have been used for years to pad the U.S. job market and make it look more impressive than it really is. It’s minimum wage positions in hotels and restaurants that make up the majority of the job growth in this country, along with commercial construction, healthcare and delivery services. But what President Trump might not want the average worker to know is that they could actually be out there earning well above the U.S. median salary by simply ditching traditional areas of the grind and going to work in the cannabis industry.
The cultivation and sale of cannabis are some of the fastest growing businesses sectors in the United States and Canada. And as pot becomes increasingly more legal in other parts of the country, workers are going to be needed to take the reins on a variety of positions. So if you are hoping to launch a career in cannabis, a report from the job-search site Glassdoor shows that it shouldn’t be too difficult to do right now. Job openings grew by 76 percent in 2018, with more than 1,500 positions up for grabs at the end of December. Incidentally, this job growth, which was not included in the latest U.S. data that Trump has been bragging about, is not about to taper off anytime soon. In fact, significant increases in the realm of weed work can be expected in 2019.
There are now 10 states and the District of Columbia that allow marijuana for recreational use. Several other states, including New York and Illinois, are expected to be added to the list at some point by the end of 2019. It is this consistency in moving forward that has the cannabis industry investing heavily right now in staffing.
“Investment in hiring is one of the strongest indicators for business confidence as it requires a substantial long-term investment of time, effort and money,” said Daniel Zhao, an economist and data scientist with Glassdoor.
Perhaps one of the most important aspects associated with the cannabis job sector is that these positions pay more than the U.S. median salary. Right now, the average yearly wage is a little over $52,000 annually. However, cannabis industry workers are starting out with an average of $58,511 per year – that’s almost $6,000 more than the rest of the country.
But it is important to point out that the majority of these cannabis jobs is not just the kind of work people with little experience can get right out of the gate. The Glassdoor report shows that 53 percent of the cannabis job openings are for professional and technical workers – opportunities for candidates with a grip on agriculture, marketing and even accounting. This means making the big bucks in bud takes more these days than just jumping in on the ground floor as a bud trimmer or retail clerk. You have to think bigger. Cannabis businesses have an interest in people that have a particular skill set that will allow them to grow with the company.
“As the cannabis industry becomes more legitimate, more and more professional roles will be in demand to help businesses comply with tax laws and regulations and scale into larger markets,” Zhao said.
Unfortunately, until the federal government lifts its ban on the cannabis plant – allowing it to become a legitimate industry the same as alcohol and tobacco – people interested in getting a job in the cannabis industry need to either reside in a cannabis-friendly state or make a move to one of these areas.
As it stands, the best opportunities are in the western part of the United States. San Francisco tops the ranks for cannabis job openings, followed by Los Angeles and Denver, Colorado. In the eastern part of the country, New York is considered a major market, ranking in at fourth. In the Midwest, Chicago, Illinois is a good place for the cannabis job seeker — it comes in at seventh on the list.
Salaries for these positions range between $22,326 per year up to $215,384 per year. Service jobs, like budtenders, are at the lower end of the spectrum with the higher paying positions being reserved for professional and technical roles. This means education plays a vital role in getting paid.
Several colleges and universities are now offering majors and minors in cannabis studies for those people looking to enter the pot industry with more leverage. Although there are not a lot of courses specific to cannabis, having an understanding in botany and analytical chemistry is not a bad skill set to have for anyone interested in cannabis production. Some reports posted over the past few months have indicated that the cannabis industry is having trouble finding skilled workers to fill specific posts, so they are merely recruiting from other agricultural fields. But just like the brewing industry, cannabis businesses are looking for top-notch workers, dependable in every way, which means wake and bakers and the perpetual stoned may have fewer chances of making the cut.
TELL US, what would be your ideal job in the cannabis industry?