Careers In Pot: Beyond Budtending

by Kevin

Earlier this week we talked about how to break into the cannabis industry, and what kinds of legal jobs are available to those who have little experience with weed from the business side. In this installment of our Careers In Pot series, we’ll be talking about a broader variety of jobs – including more entry-level gigs as well as several professional-level jobs. 

Like any industry, there are two pretty basic ways to break in: Get one of those entry-level jobs and attempt to build it up into a broader career, or learn how to transfer a set of skills to a cannabis-rich environment. If you’re a writer, for instance, you’d look for gigs that offer you the opportunity to write about pot. Plenty of dispensary websites need content beyond what they offer on their menu, and the best way to do that is hire someone who’s broadly talented at wordsmithing and prove them with the details you’d like to see in your website’s content. 

With that in mind, here are 10 jobs worth looking into, from all levels of the pot career landscape.

Packagers. This is an easy entry-level gig we probably should have mentioned in the last article. This is very simple work, and the basics aren’t cannabis-specific and can be transferred from any other packaging job. Packagers are, in short, the people who fill boxes, bags, cans and other containers with weed products, from edibles to pre-rolls. It’s an easy job that doesn’t require a ton of brain power – just attention to detail and a bit of endurance (it’s not the most exciting job, and the hardest part will be staying focused). 

Deliveryperson. This is a relatively simple job, but it’s not necessarily an easy one to get. GrassDoor hires delivery professionals all the time, but we follow a very strict selection process that involves background checks and extensive training. A driver not only needs to be able to quickly and safely transport products and packages to customers, but must also be friendly, responsible, safe, and well-versed in what GrassDoor sells. But if you make the cut, it’s a great way to break in! 

Botanical Specialists and Growers. Grow houses are often spaces with plenty of room for career advancement. Getting an entry-level gig as a trimmer could provide a way into the grow room, and there are other low-level jobs in grow spaces that can act as doorways to management. If you’ve got a background in botany – whether a college degree, an advanced degree, or time spent working as a lab technician – you’ll likely even be able to bypass much of the lower-level work.

Security Guard. This is an easy one if you’ve got that a specific set of skills and you’re looking to transfer it into a weed-rich environment. Most security guards have police or military training, and many dispensaries, warehouses or other pot-centric operations hire their security guards from outside contractors, meaning you’d be working for the security contractor itself but stationed at a cannabis industry location. If you already work for a security contractor, a good way to break into the weed industry might be to request a job on-site at a dispensary. That’ll teach you a lot of the basics. 

Store Manager/Dispensary COO. This is why it’s a good idea to try to break into the weed business by getting a job as a budtender in a dispensary. Budtenders can advance to management positions and eventually ascend to being chief operating officers of those dispensaries. It might take some extra training or even a college degree (or higher), but running a dispensary is a great gig where you can learn plenty of valuable skills on the job, making yourself more attractive to future employers.

Accountant/Dispensary CFO. Every cannabis operation needs good accountants. Partly this is because any business needs good accountants – a good understanding of a business’s cashflow is essential – but because cannabis is an industry with shifting legalities, it’s especially important to have a financial officer on hand who knows how to deal with banks, the IRS, and state tax revenuers. 

Cannabis Extraction Technician. Edibles and vapes don’t just make themselves – you’ve got to have a specialist who knows how to extract essential compounds like THC and CBD from the raw plants. It’s a pretty lucrative gig – an extraction tech can make up to six figures a year – but it requires a substantial amount of training (most jobs require advanced degrees) and has strict safety standards (the process involves a lot of chemicals and can result in injuries if proper procedures are not adhered to). 

Marketing Director/Marketing Consultant. If you’ve got a pot company, you’re gonna need to sell pot to keep your business afloat and make a profit. If you’re gonna do that, you need to get the word out about how great your products are. A marketing professional can help you understand the marketplace, determine your business’s audience, and communicate with customers and potential customers in a way that keeps them coming back.

Compliance Officer. This is a big one. Weed laws are changing all the time – mostly for the better – but even in states where it’s legal, pot is so heavily regulated that its a good idea for most businesses to have at least one employee dedicated to keeping operations within the guidelines set by those regulations. The best compliance officers are well-versed in their state’s laws regarding cannabis production and sales, and obsessively keep up with changes to the regulatory landscape.

Cannabis Consultant. “Consultant” is one of those lovely words that can mean almost anything and help you break into almost any industry. But it’s a relatively hard label to come by. A freelance cannabis consultant can be a lot of things – they can advise on marketing, sales, business operations, production or growing. But the trick is, you’ve got to have experience in a broad range of skills that are uniquely tuned to the realities of the cannabis market. Definitely not an entry-level gig.

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