Tuesday May 1, 2018

By Andrew Ward

How to Get a Job in the Cannabis Industry Education

As the cannabis industry continues to grow, many people are asking, “How do I get a job in cannabis?” And while the answer to that question is far from concrete, there are several paths to consider. In some cases, your key to job success is the traditional route with a standout resume, cover letter and credentials like any licenses your state may require. From there, you can go to notable job sites for work and search either ‘cannabis’ or ‘marijuana’ as well as the job function you’d like to perform. In that case, you can head to sites like LinkedIn, AngelList, Indeed, ZipRecruiter, Simply Hired and a slew of others. You can also try cannabis-specific job boards like Vangsters and Viridian Staffing. Though, these boards often have less results.

For some, particularly freelancers, cold emailing companies can work as well. In this scenario, it’s best to have a polished portfolio, LinkedIn and other credentials ready to send with your outreach. From there, research your targets and pitch them a short, custom email outlining your services to them.

The following methods below are just a few ways you can break into the rapidly growing cannabis industry. While there are many routes, one constant theme is to stand out.

Leverage Your Experience

If you have little to no cannabis industry experience, the key is to use your past. Brandi Moody had experience in other industries before becoming California-based dispensary Caliva’s Marketing Manager a little over a year ago. After years around cannabis and 25 years of working in wine and spirits, the progression in her career only felt natural.

A Budtender Lines Up Jars
Using your past experience can help you land a job in the cannabis industry!

Similarly, Craig Zaffe decided to enter into CBD two years ago because New York state law wouldn't allow medical marijuana. The lifelong plant professional, cannabis enthusiast and business owner since 1973 brushed up on the industry and discovered the power of CBD from agricultural hemp. Today, he is the owner of Your CBD Oils, serving both humans and pets.

Andy Williams, chairman of the board at Medicine Man Technologies, used his family's wide variety of skills to form their business. He and his brother Pete saw potential after the release of the 2009 Ogden Memo and sprang into action. Andy and his brother Pete combined their entrepreneurial spirits, as well as experience in cannabis cultivation including an aeroponic system for growing marijuana, and scaled up. Andy explains, "He was making well more than $100,000 per year as a hobby and as a caregiver. So I went to him and said, ‘Hey, Pete, why don’t you and I do what you’re doing, but let’s do it big.'"

Where and How to Succeed in Marijuana

The cannabis job market is staggering – and that's not being hyperbolic. ZipRecruiter reports that in 2017, the total number of cannabis industry job posts increased by 445%. The year prior, that number rose just 18%. Currently, several legalized cities and states serve as hotbeds for work.

Best Cities for Cannabis Job Opportunities:

  • Los Angeles, CA
  • San Francisco, CA
  • Denver, CO
  • Seattle, WA
  • Miami, FL
  • Portland, OR
  • Las Vegas, NV
  • San Jose, CA
  • Santa Barbara, CA
  • Tallahassee, FL

Roles in fields ranging from budtender to security to board members and executives are all out there. Zaffe noted an increased need at the start of the supply chain. "You’ll need botanists, more horticulturists, than ever before – people who want to devote their life to working with the elixir of life.” He noted that hemp alone could staff a slew of professionals in science fields. “Hemp has so many uses. People can go into sciences to make plastics out of hemp. Foods, clothing, A through Z.”

Budtenders Help Customers
There are so many different types of cannabis jobs these days!

Brandi Moody recommends that you demonstrate malleability and flexibility. The market is like one giant startup. Jobs can switch every few months. Also, don’t skip on your education. There isn’t much time for a learning curve in the current market. “If you want to be respected, you should understand cannabis lifestyle.”

What to Expect Working in Cannabis

Job seekers shouldn’t expect an entirely rosy picture. As Moody noted, there is some trade off with bigger brands paying more but potentially not embodying the original spirit of the movement. “If you work for the Bordeaux of cannabis in Mendocino, your paycheck is not going to reflect the quality, per se, of that product."

For entrepreneurs like Andy Williams, he recommends knowing your strengths, acting accordingly and finding a way to set your products apart from the crowded market.

For jobseekers, he emphasized the importance of networking. “These are great places to learn about jobs that aren’t publicly posted.” The power of networking is something Zaffe also championed. “I can’t tell you how many wonderful people I have connected with. I find myself looking forward to [events] every month.”

With the job market heating up, opportunities are only going to get hotter. In this mad dash for careers and cash, Brandi Moody suggested what might be the most important tip: be legitimate. “Remember that this is a movement. People like Dennis Peron and the Drug Policy Alliance worked hard to make this a legitimate business. You need to remember the pioneers of the movement.” People like Andy Williams began his business going to sleep worrying he could be arrested any day. It’s the responsibility of today’s new employees to carry on the spirit of the movement and its progress towards compliance.


Do you have any tips for prospective jobseekers looking to start their careers in cannabis? Comment below!


Andrew Ward Andrew Ward

Andrew Ward is a Brooklyn-based freelance writer and editor. Andrew has covered the cannabis industry for publications like AOL and Cannabis Culture. He is also an avid screenwriter, fantasy soccer fanatic, and aspiring world traveler.


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