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Salaries, Benefits Improve In Cannabis Industry As Jobs Multiply

New data suggests more rewards for employees in the marijuana business.

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An estimated 211,000 full-time employees made up the legal cannabis industry workforce in 2019. By 2021, the cannabis industry is expected to employ 414,000. In 2019 alone, the number of job opportunities seen by one cannabis industry hiring firm increased by a whopping 79 percent.

Jordan Siemens | Getty Images

That hiring firm is Vangst, which specializes in matching professionals to the right career in the cannabis industry. Vangst recently released its 2019 Cannabis Industry Salary Guide to provide cannabis companies, and prospective cannabis industry employees, benchmarks to measure against their salaries and benefits packages.

Karson Humiston, founder and CEO of Vangst, said in a statement that professionals from a variety of industries are considering a transition into a job in the marijuana industry. However, Humiston said, “If cannabis companies want to attract top talent, they need to put together competitive compensation packages that extend beyond just being on par with pay.”

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Jobs In The Cannabis Job Market Are Flourishing

According to the Vangst study, even states where only medical marijuana is legal, such as Florida, Oklahoma and Arizona, are “hiring competitively and aggressively.” The economic impact is significant, as well. The guide found that the cannabis industry economic impact will range from $39.2 billion to $48 billion in 2019, which is a 35 percent increase from 2018.

Hot jobs in the industry in 2019, according to the report, include:

  • Cultivation technicians
  • Trimmers
  • Budtenders
  • Brand ambassadors
  • Directors of cultivation
  • Delivery drivers.
  • Sales Reps
  • Packagers
  • Administrative and corporate roles

The Report Offers Salary Comparisons For Different Cannabis Jobs

Cannabis companies increasingly offer competitive benefits packages. For example, the number of cannabis companies offering no benefits package fell by 7.5 percent, while the number that offered dental and vision coverage increased by 15 percent, according to the Vangst guide. Almost 80 percent of cannabis employees get paid time off. 

One of the reasons for improved benefits is that employee retention remains a pain point for the cannabis industry, according to the report. It is especially difficult to retain employees in hourly positions such as budtending and harvesting.

The study also identifies salary figures for jobs in the cannabis industry. The following salaries are in the 50th percentile across the entire country. The 50th percentile is the average salary of a worker with a few years of experience and the skills to complete most job duties before they are hired.

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It’s important to keep in mind that salary figures fluctuate depending on location. For example, according to the report, the cost of living in San Francisco is 62.6 percent higher than average, while the cost of living in Kansas City is 12.6 percent lower.

  • Director of Cultivation - $87,100
  • Grow Manager -  $61,800
  • Trimmers - $13.90 per hour
  • Director of Extraction - $92,500
  • Extraction Manager - $67,000
  • Chemist - $63,200
  • Production Supervisor - $54,900
  • Budtender - $14.90 per hour
  • Director of Retail - $98,300

Much like companies in all industries, cannabis companies increasingly turn to freelance or seasonal workers for some jobs. These contingent workers, also called independent contractors, consultants or “on-demand talent,” are temporary workers in the corporate world. The Vangst report expects that on-demand talent will make up about 40 percent of the workforce by 2020.

Unfortunately, even with the increased opportunities, many professionals are holding back from entering the cannabis industry. The report noted: “While the federal government has generally left compliant states alone in 2019, job seekers are still waiting for the full federal legalization to make the switch.” 

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