Friday August 21, 2020
By Erin Hiatt
It’s no surprise to anyone that the COVID-19 pandemic has wreaked havoc on the U.S. economy. In February, unemployment rates were at record lows, around 3.5 percent. As of July 25, that rate has spiked, with nearly 20 percent of American workers now claiming unemployment benefits.
Most cannabis businesses (knock on wood) seem to have escaped the recession-like conditions some industries like health and fitness, bars, and entertainment venues are weathering. Instead, they seem to be doing quite well, in part due to the “essential,” business designation that allowed them to continue operating - with some modifications - through COVID-19.
Unfortunately, a lot of people are going to be looking for work. The good news is that cannabis jobs are waiting.
The cannabis industry claims a roster of job titles that might sound a little odd to newcomers, such as budtender, or field sampler. One such title, trimmer, may at first seem a little vague, but there’s no need to overthink it. The job description for cannabis trimmers is to do exactly what the name suggests: trim cannabis plants.
Overview of Cannabis Trimming Jobs
Trimming is a little more complicated than just deadheading flowers. Trimmers need to either have or be able to acquire enough plant knowledge to understand some basic cannabis plant anatomy and strains. They must also have a deft enough hand to trim away the leaves from cannabis plants while minimally disrupting cannabis flowers, which hold cannabinoid powerhouses called trichomes. Skilled trimming may also up the bag appeal of cannabis, a key part of marketing and sales for legal cannabis businesses.
Job search site Zip Recruiter reports that nationwide, average trimmer pay is just under $28,000 per year for full time work. Trimmers usually make around $12-18 per hour, but it very much depends on the state. For example, in New York City – where the minimum wage for any worker is $15 an hour – cannabis trimmers usually make $16-17 per hour. In Nevada, where minimum wage is $8.25, a trimmer can make anywhere from $10-15 an hour.
Here’s a rundown on how much a trimmer could potentially make per hour in a handful of both legal medical cannabis and adult-use states:
Average Trimmer Earnings by State:
- Alaska: $12-13
- Arizona: $12-13
- California: $15-21
- Colorado: $13-16
- Florida: $14-15
- Illinois: $12-13
- Massachusetts: $15-16
- Maryland: $12-13
- Maine: $15-20
- Michigan: $12-13
- New Jersey: $12-15
- Oregon: $12-13
- Washington: $14-15
As seen from the hourly wages above, trimmer pay seems to run a bit higher than the local minimum wage, and some companies may pay more based on efficiency and performance quality. Most businesses require a high school diploma or GED for employment, and there may be some hoops to jump through, like obtaining marijuana worker permits in states like Colorado and Oregon, and passing a background check.
Skills Needed to be a Good Cannabis Trimmer
Lest you think that all this job requires is agility with some shears and the desire to get your hands on some sticky cannabis goodness, there are some skillsets that could make you a good match for a trimming position, like a good eye, attention to detail, time management, working well with others, and the ability to sit or stand for long periods of time. Other tasks may include the ability to meet daily production quotas, weighing, labeling, and packaging product, and adhering to local and state cannabis regulations.
Even though trimming is considered an entry-level position, it could lead to improved prospects down the road, such as a cultivator, or grow master roles, making it a great fit for people interested in working with the plant in a quite literal way. And for those looking for work in an industry that is holding steady in a very uncertain environment, cannabis could be a great fit.
What are your thoughts on cannabis trimmer roles in the cannabis industry? Share your thoughts in the comments below!