“There is an opportunity for anyone, regardless of skill set, to find their fit in cannabis.”
Depending on the staffing firm or recruiting expert you speak to, either the cannabis industry is mainly underpaying its employees or correcting the issue as the it matures into a billion-dollar market.
The lack of consensus does not take away from the fact that the space is one of immense potential and is already a job creator. Research conducted by Leafly found that cannabis supported over 243,000 full-time jobs in America as of January 2020. Cannabis largely surged during the pandemic. When most industries laid off, cannabis was able to create nearly 34,000 jobs that year. The same can be said for temporary staffing in the sector.
The booming market appears strong in early 2021, with experts saying several well-paying roles are in-demand. However, some in staffing say that salaries remain underwhelming in several key sectors. A Wide Range Of Opportunities And Salaries Cannabis is a large industry, covering a myriad of job functions. Analysis conducted last year by Wikileaf presented some of the varied roles and salaries attached.
In cultivation, a trimmer may make between $12 and $18 per hour. An assistant grower could vary between $45,000 and $70,000 per year, with master growers earning $100,000 or more. Dispensary jobs can find budtenders earning between approximately $31,000 and $42,000 per year. A shop manager can see their salaries swing wildly, with some earning up to $150,000 and others pulling in closer to $30,000.
Danielle Schumacher, co-founder and CEO of THC Staffing Group, feels low salaries stem from entry-level positions that make up much of the industry. She said roles in retail, delivery, packaging, cultivation assistance, administrative and marketing all could be considered entry-level. She noted that specialized functions, like a lab tech, could also fall into the group.
“The pay is low for all of these positions, and if someone is lucky enough to get a promotion, the pay increase does not match the increased responsibilities,” said Schumacher, who reported that many assistant managers at dispensaries make less than $20 per hour.
Sean Cooley, head of content and SEO for Vangst, said the wide range in pay is part of why Vangst publishes a yearly free salary guide. The company’s 2019 report found that salaries jumped 16.1% between 2017 and 2018. The analysis offered up even greater swings, with an extraction director making between $47,000 and $191,000 for the year, depending on experience and skill level. Less experienced and/or skilled heads of cultivation could earn a similar minimum salary as an extractor, but could earn over $250,000 at the top of their field.
Cooley reported that entry-level salaries continue to improve. However, experienced workers in other fields may be in for a momentary loss in wages when starting out. “If you’re crossing over from another field, you may be taking a temporary step back in order to gain valuable experience that will eventually propel your career forward as the legal market grows,” he said.
Staffing leaders say that the better-paying roles in cannabis are found like other industries, typically in positions requiring higher expertise or leadership responsibilities. As such, some of the top-paying careers include C-suite executives and facility management.