Trim before drying. Harvest weed time has come. Mans hands trimming marijuana bud.

Cannabis Jobs: Ways to Work in the Weed Industry

Keegan Williams

By Keegan Williams

November 21, 2022

The cannabis industry is growing, and it’s only going to continue. According to a

, the cannabis industry is expected to continue expanding at a compound annual growth rate of 14.9 percent from 2022 to 2030 in the U.S. (from $13.2 billion in 2022 to $40 billion in 2030). 

And a

means more cannabis jobs. Thanks to legal cannabis, plentiful professionals are able to explore their passion for cannabis in a regulated, legal manner, building their careers with cannabis jobs and getting a foot in the door during the industry’s stage of relative infancy.

It can be overwhelming to make the switch and begin searching for cannabis jobs. Luckily, there are a wide array of options for folks with a variety of skill sets, regardless of your direct experience in the industry.

While this list is far from exhaustive, we’ve compiled some of the most common cannabis industry jobs available in the space. Whether you or a friend are ready to make the switch, entertaining other options or simply looking to learn more, this guide will cover some of the most popular jobs in the industry to help you find the best fit.

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Retail Cannabis Jobs

Most of us interact with budtenders and dispensary workers more than any other cannabis professional on this list. Working at a dispensary is one of the most accessible options for many folks, as more and more

and recreational shops pop up around the country.

You’ll find experience is generally preferred to get a retail cannabis job, but it’s often not a requirement. 



A play on the word “bartender,” anyone who has purchased cannabis from a dispensary has interacted with a budtender. Budtenders are responsible for helping customers and patients through their transactions, checking them out at the register, answering questions about various products and their effects, making recommendations based on customer/patient needs and ensuring store compliance.

The budtender role is one of the most popular dispensary jobs. While many dispensaries encourage previous cannabis experience, having previous customer service/retail experience and cannabis knowledge is often enough to secure one of these roles. It can be a great way to get into the industry, especially if you’re looking to climb the ladder within the retail space.

It’s a public-facing role, and while the clientele is generally more chill than many other industries, being a budtender still comes with the ups and downs of customer service. Budtenders might be required to work nights and weekends; they are also generally

, and it’s one of the lowest paid positions in the industry. 

That said, many budtenders receive tips, which can add up quickly depending on how busy the shop is.

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Inventory Workers

Many dispensaries have a back-of-house inventory team, often unseen workers who work with products for compliance. They often ensure products are in the state seed-to-sale compliance system, ensure the products are properly entered into the store POS with accurate weight and price, ensure all products are accurately

with cannabinoid amounts, barcodes and other required messages and ensure packaging is compliant.

Inventory workers may also work with the front-of-house to confirm what products should go out onto the floor when other products are out of stock, making sure they are moved accurately, physically and in the system.

Retail shops have varying models, but even without experience, inventory workers are similar to budtenders in that good knowledge and experience may very well be enough to get your foot in the door. Generally, entry-level inventory workers have similar starting pay as budtenders, though they don’t require much interaction with the public.

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Retail Managers

Cannabis retailer managers usually start as budtenders. Shift leaders often oversee the front-of-house. Their day-to-day duties include covering for budtenders during breaks, ensuring budtenders are practicing proper compliance, delegating tasks to front-of-house staff and facilitating opening and closing procedures. Depending on the dispensary, shift leaders may also have more specific focuses, like patient coordination, inventory and compliance management.

A dispensary general manager’s scope is a bit larger. The GM oversees all activities at a dispensary, managing budtenders, shift leads, inventory workers and working with wholesale providers and/or growers. General managers generally help dictate what products stay on the shelves, oversee hiring, look at sales trends and figure out strategies to continue growth.

Some dispensary chains may also have higher-level managers, like a district manager, who oversees the actions of multiple stores within the region. High-level managers might find themselves working in an office or visiting specific shop locations, looking at big-picture strategies and coaching store GMs with those goals in mind.

No matter the role, any cannabis manager needs to be a good leader and have good communication skills.

Green House and green vegetable. Young plants growing in a very large nursery
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Cultivation Cannabis Jobs

Working behind-the-scenes in a grow can be an incredibly fulfilling and enriching role. Of course, we wouldn’t enjoy the many benefits of cannabis if it weren’t for the growers making it all happen! 

You’ll have to climb the ladder a bit if you want to really rake in the dough, but there are a number of cannabis jobs to pursue in the cultivation space depending on your experience.

Cutting  cannabis buds. medical marijuana concept background


Trimmers tend to be the most common, entry-level position within cultivation. As a trimmer at a cultivation site, you are responsible for trimming the leaves of plants, removing buds from the stems and ensuring they are prepared for curing and sale. Good trimmers are also quick, detail-oriented and should already enjoy gardening duties.

Ultimately, if you don’t have any cannabis growing experience (legal or otherwise), this is a good place to start. As a trimmer, you still get firsthand experience with the growing process, and it’s the best way to progress toward a higher cultivation role.

Farm owners and workers who maintain the cannabis plantation. Monitoring the progress of cannabis flowers in the garden to be ready to be extracted into cannabis products.
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Master Grower

Looking at the wide array of

, and the complexity of cannabis breeding and genetics, there is a certain mystique and magic in being a master grower of cannabis. A master grower is responsible for managing growth operations, namely planting, crop nutrition and pest control, to ensure the highest-quality and safest cannabis. Master growers also communicate with law enforcement and compliance inspectors, meaning attention to the rules and regulations around cannabis growing is crucial.

These roles almost always require years of previous experience in the legal industry, though you may be able to finagle a role as a grower (or quickly be promoted into the position) if you have a horticulture degree and/or extensive knowledge about growing cannabis.

chemical medicine scientist working research for CBD oil from organic cannabis hemp plant in medical science laboratory, test a ganja nature herb to make a alternative herbal extract drug for health

Lab and Extraction Cannabis Jobs

If you’re already a concentrate connoisseur, you might be interested in checking out cannabis jobs in extraction and concentrate processing. These jobs deal with taking cannabis plant matter and producing cannabis extracts, like concentrates for dabbing, oils and tinctures. 

The collection of cannabis jobs available within extraction is far broader than the couple examples we’re offering. This field is highly specialized and generally best for folks with a background in science and chemistry. 

Young woman preparing homeophatic medicine from marijuana plant.

Laboratory Workers/Testers

Before extraction, all cannabis is tested for microbes, solvents, pesticides and other potentially harmful substances. Testing labs are essential to the cannabis industry, so state and local governments can ensure patients and consumers are receiving safe products with

Lab testers look for fungal or mold growth in the product, along with any heavy metals, and test the terpenes and


To be a cannabis tester, employers usually require a degree in science (likely a bachelor’s but potentially a master’s in some cases); employers often require a chemistry degree, but some may be more flexible. This job also requires excellent computer skills, since testers often work with multiple programs and must deal with complex data and reporting.

There are also special certifications testers are required to have and, like many lab jobs, working knowledge of lab safety and experience with lab equipment is a must.

Scientist with tablet operating rotational vaporizer with green condenser. She wears latex gloves and glasses. CBD hemp oil extraction is in rotational flask.
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Another far-from-entry-level position, concentrate processors/extractors are responsible for making cannabis concentrates or products through chemical extraction processes. This is a very specialized position; while it’s generally high paying, it also comes with its share of risks. If you’re looking to get into extracting, you must be highly skilled and trained, as mistakes could lead to


Like testers, extractors are generally required to have chemistry or chemical engineering degrees and typically already have years of experience working in cannabis extraction labs. Though, the specialized experience is often worth it: It’s not uncommon for experienced extractors at large companies to make six figures.

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Ancillary Cannabis Jobs

Finally, there is the unique side of cannabis focusing on

. Ancillary cannabis jobs generally mean you won’t be working directly with the plant and often focus on other specialized skills.

This is a broad category. Of course, this section could also include any large number of other niches: cannabis software programmer, cannabis website builder, cannabis accountant, cannabis security, to name a few. We’ll touch on a few of the biggies:

Cannabis Salesperson

We already know there’s a lot of money in the cannabis industry as a whole, and getting in as a salesperson can be a great way to reap those benefits yourself. Cannabis sales representatives usually work on behalf of growers,

companies, edible companies and/or topical to sell products to dispensaries.

Being in cannabis sales can lead to some of the highest paying opportunities within the industry, as legal cannabis continues expanding across the country. These roles often include commission — cha-ching!

Of course, getting into cannabis sales is pretty much like entering any sales position: You should have a proven track record as a quality sales person, and the amount of money you make is largely dependent on how good you are at your job. Some sales positions can also be done remotely, part- or full-time.

Mobile phone to photograph a cannabis plant in an indoor cannabis plot

Brand Ambassador


works within sales and customer service. This position is the representative of a cannabis brand, often working at scheduled pop-up events at dispensaries, competitions and conventions, local events, budtender trainings and more.

As a brand ambassador, you should know everything about the brand and its products. It’s your job to educate retail dispensary workers on how to talk about and sell the brand’s products, and similarly educate consumers appropriately as those interactions occur.

Ultimately, a brand ambassador should have an authentic passion and love for the brand they are standing behind. As the brand ambassador generally has an ever-changing agenda week-to-week, working with a variety of folks in different contexts and locations, it can be a good role for folks looking to steer clear of monotony, and it’s a great way to grow with a specific brand.

Middle-aged man, artist making marijuana cigarette or joint, sitting at home and writing song using laptop. Marijuana grinder, lighter and weed on the table. Cannabis legalization concept. High angle

Cannabis Writer

In the constantly shifting world of cannabis, cannabis writers are essential to keep up with the ebbs and flows.

A cannabis writer might have a solely journalistic focus, working for a print and/or digital publication, interviewing cannabis professionals and leaders and reporting cannabis politics in the U.S. and around the globe, or even

and reporting cannabis industry news.

Cannabis copywriting focuses on engaging content for publications and businesses within the cannabis industry. A cannabis copywriter might write up an

, or they might work with brands to create enticing copy for their customer-facing products and on dispensary shelves.

While some employers will require a degree in communications, English or journalism as a cannabis writer, having cannabis knowledge and writing experience is most essential. If you don’t have a degree but you’re a strong writer (especially with previously published clips) who knows cannabis, you’ll have a better shot at finding a paying role to write about cannabis.

Final Thoughts

While many cannabis jobs require specialized knowledge or previous experience, you’ll find plenty of roles that simply require a passion for cannabis, basic knowledge about the plant and industry and a strong work ethic.

As cannabis

, the roles within the cannabis space will continue to grow with it. There are even a number of positions that could see greater accessibility in the future with continued reform: think cannabis hotels, cannabis bars, cannabis tourism. There’s also the wide array of cannabis manufacturing jobs, cannabis marketing positions, even running social media for a cannabis company or dispensary! This is just a small sampling of the many cannabis jobs available today.

If you’re thinking about taking the leap, rest assured that there is surely a cannabis job for you!

Keegan Williams

About The Author

Keegan Williams