A lot of people are eager to work in the business of cannabis. But which job is right for you?
Glassdoor recently released a report on cannabis-related jobs, based on the site’s postings in December 2018. It discussed which regions were most actively looking to fill positions and the types of jobs being offered. So what’s most available? Weedmaps News talked to a few industry professionals to sort out the details behind the current wave of hiring.
Budtenders, Sales Associates, Brand Ambassadors
Want to work for a dispensary? The quickest way to get your foot in the door — and your name on the payroll — is a retail sales position. That includes budtenders (No. 11 in top occupations for open cannabis jobs in the Glassdoor report), sales associates (No. 2), and brand ambassadors (No. 1).
Together, those three positions accounted for 11 percent of Glassdoor’s cannabis-related job openings in December, making them the most in-demand from the employer’s standpoint.
“If you don’t have experience with the cannabis industry, I think the easiest way to get in the company is go through retail,” said Janet Hoffman, vice president of human resources for The Green Solution, which operates 17 dispensaries throughout Colorado. “We can teach you product knowledge. If you use the product, that’s helpful but you don’t have to in order to sell the product. We have a pretty good training program in place.”
Working retail also allows an employee to build expertise on a topic that’s still relatively new as a legal business. “Being behind the register and getting face time with customers is extremely helpful,” said Ty Hagen, project manager of Ikon Search, a cannabis recruitment agency in Denver. “Getting training, learning knowledge on the fly. It’s good exposure.”
The title of brand ambassador appears the most open to interpretation. Hoffman sees it as a marketing position. “We have a couple brand ambassadors and they move around between different stores,” she said. “They plan events and meet with customers who might be waiting in line. They fill in at different locations to work sales.”
However, brand ambassadors can also be temporary positions for short-term projects such as marketing campaigns and trade shows — which could help explain why this job was posted the most on Glassdoor. “I’m seeing more businesses pop up that offer brand ambassadors for hire for one specific event,” Hagen said. “So if you’re in Las Vegas, you can call a service and they’ll supply you with people to wear your company’s shirt, hand out fliers, hand out product, all that.”
What can someone expect to make in these positions? The Cannabis Salary Guide by Vangst estimates $13.25 per hour for a budtender with average experience. Keep in mind, tips can bump up pay considerably.
Managers, Managers, and More Managers
As you continue to climb the ladder, you’ll hear a few different titles for what is essentially the same position: store manager (No. 3), general manager (No. 6) and operations manager (No. 12), although the latter often comes with a much greater level of responsibility. Either way, these positions, which together represented 6 percent of cannabis-related job postings in December, are desirable for budtenders and sales associates who want to move up the ladder within a company.
“The store manager — they are 100-percent responsible for what happens in their store,” Hoffman said. “They hire and fire the employees. They do all schedules. They monitor all payroll, reports and supplies. It’s absolutely a career-level position.”
The Green Solution has a few “in-between” positions as well — leads or assistant managers — who are given a little more responsibility before advancing to the level of store manager. However, a degree of patience is sometimes required.
“I’ve heard of assistant managers wanting to go back down to being a budtender because they were making more money with tips in addition to their hourly wage than on a salary,” Hagen said.
Managers can also come in directly from other industries, especially those with a strong sales background. “In my experience, we’ve looked to other retailers like clothing or lifestyle brands,” Hagen added. “Another one we poach from is the restaurant industry.”
An operations manager tends to be a broader role that could cover cultivation and extraction departments in addition to retail. A compliance or assurance manager is more about making sure regulations and internal policies are followed than customer service — a crucial position considering the strict government oversight involved in selling legal marijuana.
What can someone expect to make in these positions? Vangst says the salary for a dispensary store manager with average experience is $56,250 while the salary for a compliance manager with average experience is $62,500. Higher up the chain, the director of extraction is $72,000 and the director of cultivation is $88,000.
Trimmers, Growers, Technicians
In restaurants, the “front of the house” consists of servers, hosts, and managers who interact with diners, while the “back of the house” is the kitchen team preparing the food. In much the same way, dispensaries have a front of the house, dominated by budtenders, managers and other customer service professionals, while the back of the house is focused on producing sellable cannabis. Entry-level positions begin with trimmers (No. 18), packers (No. 14), and other cultivation professionals (No. 13), adding up to 3 percent of all cannabis jobs posted.
“There are several different phases of the grow process,” says Hoffman. “You are taking care of feeding, watering and monitoring plant growth. And at the end of the growth cycle, there is the harvest. So there are a lot of different stages.”
Growhouse and warehouse jobs are appealing to those looking to enter the cannabis industry, but aren’t drawn to customer service. However, they come with a warning.
“People don’t always fully understand the work that’s required for those positions,” Hoffman said. “It can be pretty physical, manual labor-type work, depending on where you are in the process. Or it can be mundane and repetitive — and that may not be something you like.”
Higher up the ladder, lab technicians (No. 8) extract oil and work with terpenes to produce a range of products, including topicals and edibles. While job postings for lab positions are infrequent — just 2 percent of cannabis jobs in December 2018 — they are highly skilled and highly valued.
Don’t forget about delivery drivers (No. 5) and security guards (No. 9), both required to make sure products reach dispensaries safely. “We’ve actually combined security with some inventory control and auditing to round out the workload of this position,” Hoffman said.
What can someone expect to make in these positions? Vangst estimated $12.25 per hour as the wage for a trimmer with average experience. (Wages for other warehouse, growhouse and lab positions were not published.)