Despite the recent bad news around the industry, cannabis companies are a great place to look for job-seekers, from hourly retail employees all the way up to experienced executives.
Vangst, a cannabis industry recruiting startup, shared its 2019 salary guide exclusively with Business Insider. The guide, which surveyed cannabis companies across the industry, points to some promising trends.
The cannabis industry employs about 200,000 people in the US this year, and that number is expected to increase to over 400,000 jobs by 2021, according to Vangst’s guide.
“We’re coming out with this report as a lot of companies are laying people off, and people are reluctant about cannabis employment opportunities,” Vangst CEO Karson Humiston said in an interview. “But look at the actual facts: There are 211,000 people employed in cannabis right now, and this number is expected to reach over 400,000 by 2021. The industry is growing, the number of jobs is growing, and that’s a fact.”
Wall Street analysts say cannabis could become an $85 billion industry by 2030, and most Democratic candidates for US president have advocated for full-scale legalization.
Though cannabis is a growing industry, companies from cannabis-tech startups to publicly traded cultivators have laid off over 600 people at all levels in the past few months, per Business Insider’s own reporting.
Humiston said while that is a function of industry turmoil it’s also because more experienced executives from other industries are taking jobs at cannabis companies, and seeing where there are wasted dollars so they can “trim the fat” and operate more efficiently.
That being said, getting in on the ground floor of the industry and weathering the turmoil can pay off in the long run through the skills you develop and the network you create, says Humiston.
As new state markets open up, they’ll need people with real expertise navigating the complicated industry. On top of that, you can get paid in stock which could have a long-term upside.
“Take a director of cultivation for example,” says Humiston. “If you’ve worked in the legally-compliant cannabis industry for a few years, you’re in such high demand because how many people out there have large scale commercial cannabis experience?”
Here’s how much you can expect to get paid in the cannabis industry, in roles from edibles specialist to VP of retail:
- A director of cultivation at a cannabis company can command a high salary. At the 75th percentile, directors of cultivation can make $118,600 per year and $87,100 at at the 50th percentile (the average salary).
- VPs of retail can command $152,000 at the 75th percentile yearly salary, or $104,000 at the 50th percentile.
- A VP of manufacturing can make $167,000 at the 75th percentile, and $134,000 on average.
- A budtender can make $18 an hour at the 75th percentile, or $14.90 on average.
- A general manager of a dispensary can make $90,600 at the 75th percentile, and $56,00 on average.
- A director of lab extraction can make $119,500 at the 75th percentile, and $92,500 on average.
- A chemist can make $83,500 at the 75th percentile, and $63,200 on average.
- An edibles specialist can make $63,000 at the 75th percentile, and $41,000 on average.
If you want to land a job in the cannabis industry, a number of recruiters told Business Insider that having a “startup” mindset is crucial.
“There’s not a set playbook and there’s not a set of answers of how to succeed in the cannabis industry,” says Humiston. “The people that I believe we’ve seen do the best have come into the industry with their eyes wide open, willing to wear a lot of different hats, genuinely excited about building this brand new space, and not coming in with any preconceived notions of how things should go.”