Cannabis company Terra Tech Corp. recently held a job fair in Las Vegas. They ran a quarter page ad and expected about 200 people to show up. They got 2,000 instead. “Most people just want to get into the space,” said CEO Derek Peterson. “They believe in the product.” Peterson said a lot of people came without any experience and since the jobs are unique, they tried to pair existing skills with new job requirements.
The grow master is the person responsible for cultivating various strains of marijuana plants. Peterson likens it to being a master chef. Grow masters are in high demand and it’s a seller’s market. At minimum they can command a salary of $100,000 a year and a percentage of the profit. Peterson said that for the time being all the good cultivators come from California. They’ve had more time to develop their skills and reputation. They are used to working on their own and making great wages. “It’s a pretty specific skill set and over time I expect the recreational marijuana will shape up with celebrity cultivators like celebrity chefs,” said Peterson. He also thinks that as more states legalize marijuana, California won’t be the only place to find a master grower.
In this Oct. 1, 2015, file photo, employees of Amazon Organics, a pot dispensary in Eugene, Ore., . [+] help customers purchase recreational marijuana. (AP Photo/Ryan Kang, file)
Most people only think of marijuana in the plant form, however marijuana extracts are a growing side of the business, amounting to 40% of sales at some stores. These “extract artists” have a unique set of skills. Peterson said many of the people he hires for this job have PhD’s. They can earn between $75,000 and $125,000 a year. Some states don’t like the idea of people smoking pot for medical purposes and like the state of New York have only legalized medical marijuana in the extract form. While there are expensive machines that do the actual extraction, it requires a person with the knowledge and experience to make sure the product being delivered to a patient or customer is exactly what it is. Consistency and quality are the name of the game.
Like any retail operation, a medical dispensary or recreational outlet needs a manager. These employees can do very well, especially in profitable stores. At minimum, they can earn $75,000 a year and many get a bonus on top of that based on the store’s sales. When you consider that some stores in California have sales of $3 million to $6 million a year, while some San Francsico Bay area stores do $7 million to $10 million a year, that bonus can be pretty good. Many get vacation pay and health insurance just like a traditional job. Managers can also climb the green ladder and end up overseeing several locations.
There are websites with cannabis job listings like Cannajobs and 420careers. Medical marijuana delivery company GreenRush held a job fair in California in April; 2,700 people attended and 200 jobs were filled. Another event is planned for November 10.
This is the entry level job working with the plant. It tends to be the lowest paid job in the industry — a bud trimmer in California may make $12-$13 an hour. In Vegas where service jobs are in high demand, $13 an hour is the general wage. Some get paid by the pound and that can run to $100-$200 a pound. In a medical dispensary, a trimmer takes the plant and with little scissors cuts the flower from the stem. It’s critical to only get what is needed and not waste any of the plant. Everything is separated and weighed. A tedious job for sure, but it beats working at McDonald’s, and it’s an opportunity to get in on the ground floor of the business and work your way up.
The marijuana industry is growing quickly and just as quickly gaining wider societal acceptance. As such, more people are looking at the cannabis industry as a career choice. Some of the jobs are little out of the ordinary, but that’s probably what draws many workers interested in cannabis jobs. Whether they worked with marijuana in the black market or just want an alternative to the standard cubicle job, thousands are trying to get in.
He also noted that a lot of people in the 40-50 age group have been aged out of the traditional workforce. “Almost everyone had a bachelor’s degree that we saw,” he said. While some positions like store managers overlap more traditional jobs, others like bud trimmers are truly unique to the space. Here are the top five jobs in the marijuana industry.
While owning a marijuana business sounds like the ultimate counterculture move, it brings a mountain of headaches. Many owners say they don’t make the millions that many people think they do. There are legal and banking headaches, and the regulatory landscape is constantly shifting. The owners don’t get to claim the same business deductions that other business owners get, so the expenses are sky high. Many owners front millions of dollars for years before they ever get to see any profits. Still, if you think this industry is in its early stages with years of growth ahead, being an owner can still be a sweet alternative to the grind of a normal job.
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To give a better idea of just how numerous the responsibilities of a grower are, grow masters are expected to have significant prior experience as a master or assistant growers at commercial grow operations. Additionally, more and more growers are expected to hold degrees in horticulture, agriculture or an associated program of study. This requirement is not just for show; growers must prove their confidence in problem solving, should any issues with the plants arise.
Dry trimming is chosen when operations can afford to purchase a machine trimmer, which is more adept at the job than real people, who would likely have to spend more time fumbling around with the dry leaves. Even in situations where cultivators can afford machine trimmers, some choose to keep with standard protocol in order to create jobs for workers. While trimming may not offer one of the highest marijuana grower salaries, it’s a great place to start. See our Marijuana Bud Trimmer Salaries article for more specific information on cannabis trimming pay.
Master growers are constantly having to test their products and determine the efficacy of their growing program in producing an effective product. Under the newly legal cultivation sector, growers send out their products to third parties for quality assurance and to make sure they are abiding perfectly with regulatory compliance measures.
A receptionist or security guard at a dispensary can make an annual salary of $21,000 – $31,000 , the lowest pay tier among dispensary jobs. The national average salary for a dispensary receptionist or security guard is $23,000.
There is very little room for error in commercial grow operations, so companies don’t want to waste their time with novices or intermediate level employees when seeking a grow leader.
A budtender can make an annual salary of $31,000 – $42,000 depending on which state they’re located in. The national average salary for a budtender is $36,000.
On top of direct cultivation and management responsibilities, grow masters are charged with accurately recording and organizing data across platforms like Microsoft Excel and other spreadsheet and word processing software.
When starting a grow operation from seed, growers are given the opportunity to influence the vegetative and mature growth of cannabis, before making clones. Simply put, cloning is the relatively easy processing of cutting off parts of a cannabis plant and allowing these cuttings to form roots of their own and grow into an exact genetic copy of the parent plant.
In our survey results, master growers had an average annual salary of $125,000. The average salary for a master grower ranges from $85,000 to $145,000, depending on size of the grow operation and which state they were located in.
Becoming a paid, legal marijuana grower is a highly sought after position in the legal cannabusiness and comes with high levels of responsibility and equally impressive compensation. Assistant growers, on average, earn $20.55 per hour; master growers typically earn a salary of $125,000 per year and sometimes a share in the grow operation’s profits.
As you can see, the big producer/processors make a killing. But the average grower makes a much more modest income.
An extraction technician working at a grow operation can make an annual salary of $80,000 – $143,000. The national average salary for an extraction technician is $115,000.
For operations using wet trimming methods, it’s likely they have hired real people to snip away all the fan leaves, sugar leaves and other unnecessary plant matter to produce the most highly concentrated, aesthetically pleasing final product possible.
Depending on what you’re heard (or who you’ve heard it from), growing marijuana can seem like both a simple or elaborate task. Frankly, it can be both at the same time. One the one hand, cannabis flowers actively want to grow and will grow vigorously in the right conditions. Conversely, in order to achieve the perfect mature cannabis flowers, a lot of detail must go into creating and maintaining very specific protocol for feeding, watering, heat, sun, humidity and more.
A bud trimmer can make an annual salary of $30,000 – $35,000 depending on which state they’re located in. The national average salary for a bud trimmer is $31,000.
Cannabis Strains: Indica, Sativa, Hybrid.
Whereas traditional outdoor cannabis cultivation is carried out using soil, hydroponic growing is soilless and involves transferring nutrients directly into a plant’s root system. This process is frequently used by present day cultivators looking to grow a consistent, significant crop, without the climate, nutrition and increased pest-related risks associated with outdoor growing.
In 2018, the average grower in WA made $1,057,383 . There were a total of 990 revenue-producing grow operations included in the calculation of that average.
The amount a grower makes selling to dispensaries varies based on the size of the grow operation. For example, here’s what the top 5 producer/processors in Washington State made in 2018:
Trichomes are small resin saturated hairs that change from white to a darker reddish amber color. Once it has reached this stage, you know it is time to harvest. Letting it go any longer will produce more indica-like effects, including lethargy and anti-anxiety.
A dispensary owner can make an annual salary of $200,000 – $2,750,000 depending on how well the store’s sales perform. The national average salary for a dispensary owner is $685,000.
A professional marijuana dispensary story manage can make an annual salary of $60,000 – $150,000, depending on how profitable their store is. The national average salary for a dispensary manager is $75,000.
The weed farmers most likely to garner significant salaries are the passionate, curious cannabis lovers and advocates who truly believe in their business. This is not an industry to get involved in solely for the prospective financial reward. Especially since so much time is spent researching and interacting with cannabis, it is essential to have respect and fascination for the plant and its medical and recreational uses.
The marijuana grower salaries awarded to grow-op leaders are well deserved as the job is all encompassing, stressful and requires both personal and professional time commitments.
The goal when harvesting is to avoid doing it too early, or too late. Plenty of growers have different ideas about what flowers should look like and smell like to reach optimal compound concentration. Naturally, growers want to maximize the levels of THC, CBD and terpenes present in each flower before the plant is exposed to too many factors like light and oxygen and compound levels become less effective. A good product makes happy customers and brings in higher marijuana grower salaries.
One thing that all serious cultivators looking to make high marijuana grower salaries know are the differences between cannabis strains. Strains can be broken down into three major categories and then further specialized into many individual strains. Each strain produces different effects that greatly influence the kind of high or medical treatment customers and patients experience.
Read on below to learn how much do dispensary jobs pay, and how much marijuana growers make.
Many clones can be taken from one healthy plant, though the resulting female crop will be one, unanimous strain. Cloning can be done simply by using a sharp pair of scissors, starter cubes and growing jell .
After a crop has been harvested, cultivators must decide how they want to carry out the trimming process. Depending on the financial resources, staffing needs, and set up of the operation, growers engage either in wet or dry trimming.
A professional marijuana edibles chef can make an annual salary of $60,000 – $90,000. The national average salary for an edibles chef is $75,000.
Curious how much you could get paid working in the legal cannabis industry? We conducted a survey of over 2,000 participants working in the US cannabis industry, from those working on grow operations (master growers, bud trimmers, edibles chefs, extraction technicians) to those working in dispensaries (budtenders, dispensary managers, dispensary owners, receptionists, security) on their annual salaries and bonuses, and compiled a simple report to show you the average salary, salary range, and bonuses you can expect for the most common cannabis industry jobs.