Let Us Put It Bluntly: The Legal Marijuana Industry Is Growing Like Crazy

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A clone cannabis plant is planted in the Knox Cultivation Center in Winter Garden, Fla.
A clone cannabis plant is planted in the Knox Cultivation Center in Winter Garden, Fla. Photo courtesy of Knox Medical

If you’ve always wanted to get in on the ground floor of a growing (in this case, literally) profession, the legal marijuana industry might be of interest.

Medical marijuana use is legal in 29 states and Washington, D.C., and recreational use is legal in eight states.

In case you’re wondering if there’s a healthy supply and demand for the product, consider this:

  • Marijuana Business Daily estimates there are between 3,300 and 4,300 medical marijuana dispensaries and retail stores in the United States.

Let me put those numbers in perspective. There are only about 6,500 Taco Bell restaurants across the entire nation. Together they generated around $10 billion in sales.

If pot were legal in all 50 states, it might outsell tacos.

Knox Medical Lead Chemical Engineer Alexander Karol conducts testing on C02-extracted cannabis oil to ensure products meet high standards of purity.

Knox Medical Lead Chemical Engineer Alexander Karol conducts testing on C02-extracted cannabis oil to ensure products meet high standards of purity. Photo courtesy of Knox Medical

The burgeoning medical and retail marijuana supply chain needs skilled workers to keep it running smoothly, so let’s take a look at some of the most popular jobs in the industry.

I’ve included some general information on pay range, qualifications and training, but the specifics will vary based on state, hiring company and training institute.  

(Note: Completion of paid training programs for entry-level jobs in the legal marijuana industry may or may not impact your hireability. Be sure to do your homework before plunking down money to take a class on something you might learn on the job for free.)

Head Grower/Master Grower

Head Growers are responsible for plants, crops and teams of growers.

You’ll be expected to establish growing procedures and track plants through their entire lifecycle to with the goal of creating the best product possible.

Pay Range: $66,000 to $111,000 per year

Job Qualifications:

  • Horticulture degree or equivalent
  • Several years’ growing experience
  • Knowledge of plant nutrients, soil, grow technology, pest control and harvest methods
  • Comprehensive knowledge of strains: Sativa, Indica and hybrids
  • Advanced knowledge of the cannabis plant, genetics and cloning
  • Management experience
  • Some companies may require Master Grower certification

Job Training Costs:

  • Master Grower certification: $597

Edibles Chef

Edibles chefs create cannabis-laced food and beverages for medicinal and recreational consumption where it’s legal to do so.

Professional edibles chefs typically have culinary training in addition to whatever local laws and certifications required by the state.

Pay Range: $50,000 to over $100,000

Job Qualifications:

  • Thorough understanding of marijuana strains and concentrates
  • Excellent cooking skills
  • Professional cooking and kitchen experience

Job Training and Costs:

Budtender/Dispensary Agent

An exterior photo of Knox Medical Dispensary in Ivanhoe Village in Orlando, Fla.

Knox Medical Dispensary is located in the Ivanhoe Village neighborhood of Orlando, Fla. Photo courtesy of Knox Medical

Budtenders, sometimes called dispensary agents, are the intermediaries between the customers and retail and medical marijuana sellers.

This entry-level job is highly sought-after because it helps cannabis industry workers get their foot in the door and learn on-the-job skills.

Pay Range: $12 to $16 per hour

Job Qualifications:

  • Excellent customer service skills
  • Thorough understanding of marijuana strains and products
  • Clean criminal record
  • Ability to establish trust and rapport with customers

Job Training Costs:

  • Dispensary agent training class: $249

Bud Trimmer

Marijuana plants are just like lots of other vegetation; they grow best when they’re kept neatly trimmed and manicured.

Bud trimmer is also an entry-level job and a great way to learn about different strains of marijuana plants and how they grow.

Pay Range: $12 to $15 per hour or $100 to $200 per pound

Job Qualifications:

  • Accuracy and consistency in trimming
  • Understanding of marijuana plants and strains
  • Ability to accurately weigh and measure

Job Training and Costs:

Lisa McGreevy is a staff writer at The Penny Hoarder. She loves telling readers about new job opportunities so look her up on Twitter @lisah if you’ve got a tip to share.

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