Opportunities abound within the fast-growing cannabis industry. By 2020 the cannabis industry is expected to employ more than 300,000 people, according to analytics firm New Frontier Data. As more states legalize medicinal and recreational marijuana in the coming years, those numbers are only expected to grow.
Entry into the industry is relatively easy. You could become a bud trimmer or budtender, which accounts for a large majority of the workforce. No specific college education is necessary, though budtenders will benefit from a robust knowledge of cannabis strains and effects, plus an easygoing customer service background.
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But those jobs can be relatively low wages. So what’s a job in the cannabis industry if you also want to make serious money? By being a master extractor, master grower, or lab director.
“I know some master growers who make more than $200,000. They’re valuable,” William Simpson, CEO of Golden Leaf Holdings, told CNN Money. “That is going to be a very sought after, difficult position.”
What should you study if you want one of these positions? Degrees in botany, chemistry, or pharmacology will go a long way. However, if you seek a gig as a master extractor, you’ll need a PhD in biochemistry, plus a background in engineering. A limited pool for sure, but that’s part of what drives wages for the job.
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Starting out might not lead you immediately to six-figures, though. Individuals just entering those fields might expect to start around a $40,000 salary for pharmacologists or growers. But those numbers could grow to $120,000 within just three years.
Of course if you want the truly big money, you should just go your own way. An entrepreneur with a business degree accepts more risk, but also more reward in the cannabis industry, as in other fields. Though unlike other fields, that risk also includes scrutiny from the federal government. If you’re not interested in touching the plant, it’s as good as a job as any.