Looking to Change Careers? The Cannabis Industry Wants You
It sounds like a job hunter’s dream: A new, fast-growing business where hiring is soaring, salaries are higher than the U.S. average, and no previous industry experience is required—or even expected. Right now, that describes the marijuana trade, according to a new report from career site Glassdoor.
Whether you’re a marketer, a product manager, an accountant, or a software developer, your chances of finding a reefer-related job look pretty good. According to Glassdoor, hiring at cannabis companies jumped 76% in 2018.
That makes sense, considering that seven more states and Washington, D.C., approved measures last year to loosen restrictions on cannabis, bringing the number of jurisdictions that now allow medical or recreational marijuana (or both) to 34. Pot is still illegal under federal law, but that could soon change. A Gallup poll last October found that 66% of Americans favor legalization of marijuana.
Some of the job openings Glassdoor unearthed from its database call for detailed knowledge of the product. For instance, salespeople and “budtenders” (the word comes from “bartender” and has a similar meaning) need enough familiarity with pot to talk knowledgeably with customers about it. But more than half (53%) of marijuana-industry job openings now are for professional and technical roles.
Don’t know much, or anything, about marijuana? No problem. “I was surprised at the wide range of skills these companies are looking for,” says Daniel Zhao, Glassdoor’s senior economist. “They need exactly the same kinds of talent, including general managers and software engineers, that every other business is hiring.”
That will doubtless be even more true as the industry grows, its many tiny start-ups start scaling into bigger markets, and employers find they need more help in areas like compliance with regulations and tax laws in various states. At the moment, Glassdoor says 84% of cannabis job openings are at small companies with fewer than 500 employees. The five currently doing the most hiring: Green Thumb Industries; Surterra Wellness; Cura Cannabis Solutions, PAX Labs, and Eaze.
Pot companies pay well. Because they’re looking to fill such varied roles, Glassdoor found, salaries range from an average $22,326 for delivery truck drivers to $215,384 for new hires with medical and legal expertise. Overall, jobs in the industry come with a median salary of $58,511, or 10.7% higher than the U.S. median of $52,943.
A few employers operate in widely scattered locations. Green Thumb Industries, for instance, so far has offices in Chicago and Tampa, pot farms in Nevada, Illinois, and Florida, and retail stores in Pennsylvania and Maryland, with plans to expand into New England. Still, just over 60% of job openings, according to Glassdoor’s analysis, are concentrated in five cities: San Francisco, Los Angeles, Denver, New York, and Seattle. California has by far the most, with seven metro areas where cannabis companies are hiring. “Someone who wants to break into the industry might want to consider relocating,” notes Daniel Zhao. “It just makes sense to be willing to go where the most action is.”
Anne Fisher is a career expert and advice columnist who writes “Work It Out,” Fortune’s guide to working and living in the 21st century. Each week, she’ll answer your most challenging career questions. Have one? Ask her on Twitter or email her at email@example.com.