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How Open Are Students to Majoring and Working in Cannabis? Job Prospects & Educational Opportunities

According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, as of November 9, 2022, 21 states have legalized cannabis for recreational adult use. Medical cannabis use is legal in 37 US states. However, these numbers may be changing quickly, as a study by Marijuana Business Daily says the state's transition time from medical to recreational cannabis use is steadily decreasing. Thus, the niche is constantly growing and requires new specialists. 

Edubirdie decided to explore how open young people are to working in the cannabis industry, what employers have to offer, and where to get a cannabis education. 

EduBirdie surveyed young people to understand whether they are open to working in the cannabis industry or consider this business taboo. We also tried to figure out if young people are ready to take marijuana-related studies in case this would be helpful for them as candidates to be considered for a job. 

How Open Young People Are to Majoring and Working in Cannabis: Survey Results

In November 2022, we surveyed 2,168 young people aged 16-20 who are either high school students or graduates. 28% of the respondents are residents of states where cannabis is illegal for recreational and medical use. The rest (72%) live in states where marijuana is legal for recreational and/or medical use. 

56% of interviewees said they wanted to take higher education courses, 18% did not intend to enroll, and the rest (26%) said they were unsure if they wanted to study further. Firstly, we asked young people if they would be open to working in the cannabis industry. 73% said yes without hesitation, 12% were negative, and the remaining 15% admitted that they cannot give a certain answer yet.  

Interestingly, in states where cannabis is illegal, 60% of the respondents would work in the cannabis industry. In those states where cannabis is legal for recreational and/or medical use, 70% of students would apply for a cannabis job. Regardless of the laws in the state, there is very little difference in the results. 

We also wondered if the respondents would take marijuana-related studies if having specific knowledge would give them the advantage of getting a job they desire in the cannabis industry. 73% of young people said they would attend school if it increased their chances of getting a job offer. 10% of the respondents were not sure if they wanted to get an academic background in cannabis, and 17% found it difficult to answer.

We also tried to understand what kind of jobs would interest young people: those that require direct work with marijuana (ex., budtender, trimmer, or cultivator) or indirect (law, marketing, IT, etc. but in the cannabis industry). 29% preferred working with the product directly, and 71% chose to have more traditional jobs within the industry. 

Cannabis Jobs: Salary Ranges & Degree Requirements

Since the survey has shown that young people don't mind working in the cannabis industry, we decided to investigate the job market. According to the 2022 Leafly Jobs Report, annual job growth in the sector is up over 27% for five years in a row. And the growing number of vacancies in this niche provides employment opportunities for young professionals. 

Which states have the most job openings for young people, what is the average annual pay in each state, which jobs are the highest paying, and which pay less? Does one need a degree to get a job, and where to get a cannabis education if needed? 

To answer all the job-related questions, we have analyzed all job offers in the cannabis industry on indeed.com. We have analyzed the average number of open cannabis-related positions over the last 6 months (full-time, part-time, contract, and temporary) in each state. California is leading the way with 1,583 daily open positions on average, 900 in Florida, 692 in Michigan, 656 in Massachusetts, and 521 in Colorado. These are the states with the most vacancies in the industry. Illinois, Oregon, Arizona, Pennsylvania, and Texas followed them into the top 10 of the most cannabis-friendly states regarding open positions.

Along with that, Wyoming was the state that welcomed the least cannabis industry vacancies, with only two openings open on average every day. Idaho (4), Nebraska (5), New Hampshire (5), and Alabama (8) also were among the states with the fewest openings. 

We also calculated the average annual salary for all cannabis industry jobs in each state. To do this, we took the average of all positions. Salary estimates for job offers were mentioned in their hourly and annual amounts. We have unified the information given for the year rate. We did not include the positions with no remuneration specified. We determined the average rate if the job description had a salary range. 

So Utah ($97,070), California ($94,820), Wyoming ($94,750), Florida ($81,740), and Indiana ($79,100) were the states with the highest average annual salaries across the industry. The lowest yearly compensation for cannabis employees was found in Louisiana ($25,230), Hawaii ($32,280), Georgia ($32,630), Texas ($35,070), and North Dakota ($35,500).

We wondered which states have the most demanding employers. So when analyzing job openings, we also looked at how many employers in the cannabis industry require at least a bachelor's degree from applicants. Employers in North Carolina turned to require a Bachelor's Degree the most. 96% of job openings had a degree as a must. 91% of Connecticut and 87% of Rhode Island employers would also like a bachelor's degree holder to join their teams. Meanwhile, in Louisiana, only 10% of jobs require a bachelor. Kansas (11%) and Montana (18%) are among the states that are not the most demanding for candidates' degrees. 

Cannabis Salary Estimate Ranges by State

When choosing a future job, one pays attention to many factors, ranging from personal interests, education, and work schedule, to social guarantees and a team. At the same time, salary remains a critical factor. 

In our study, we also paid attention to remuneration. For this purpose, we collected the average number of jobs in each state's specified salary range on indeed.com. We distinguished two ranges: $50,000 to $65,000 a year and $70,000 yearly or more. 

The most job offers over $70,000 a year were found in Cali, followed by Illinois. Also, in Wyoming, despite having only 2 open positions daily on average, all of the openings offered more than $70,000 a year. In South Carolina, where we counted eight job openings on average, with three paying $70,000 or more. In New Hampshire, three of five openings, and in Idaho, three of four offered salaries above $70,000 a year.

The Most High-Paying & Lowest-Paying Jobs With Average Annual Salaries

It makes sense that some of the highest-paying jobs in the cannabis industry include management positions, such as General, Tax, Dispensary, Audit, Operations Manager, etc. 

Among the highest-paying jobs in the cannabis industry are medical specialists (including physicians, osteopaths, psychiatrists, telehealth doctors, and nurses); pharmacists. 

Entry-level laboratory specialists, lab technicians, and lab assistants might have lower salary estimates. Nevertheless, they are in demand in Indiana, Louisiana, Maryland, New Hampshire, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and South Dakota. 

Among the highest-paying positions are also those in marketing, namely marketing directors. Copywriters and social media specialists fall into the lower-paying categories. 

There are also many open positions in the industry for sales positions. Sales executives and Directors of Sales are among the highest paid, and Sales Associates, respectively, in those where compensation will be low. Students or recent graduates can easily try out for entry-level positions. 

Production and packaging and entry-level lab technicians are on the list of jobs you will get little money for. However, in Georgia and Indiana, Lab technicians are among the best-paying jobs, offering over $80,000 a year. 

Office or administrative support positions, Cashiers, Consultants, Trimmers, and Budtenders are among those jobs that offer low salaries. However, we did find a job in Montana where Budtender is offered to pay $45,580 a year, which is the highest salary estimate for a Budtender in the US. 

State The Most High-Paying Jobs With Average Annual Salaries The Lowest-Paying Jobs With Average Annual Salaries

Alabama

Retail Sales Associate $22,880

Sales Associate $22,880

Sales Associate/ Bud Tender $29,120

Grower $83,180

Head Grower of Hydroponics $55,000

Dispensary Nurse, LPN $43,680

Alaska

Cannabis Laboratory Technician $52,050

Budtender $29,120
Cannabis Cultivator $31,200

Arizona

General Manager $100,000
Key Account Specialist $80,000
Senior Accountant $79,400

Production Associate $27,040
Administrative Representative $29,120
Cannabis Trimmer $31,200

Arkansas

Tax Manager $110,000
Program Sales Manager $88,800
Perennial Grower $47,400

Facilities Technician $29,120
Armed Security Specialist $31,200
Cannabis Guide $31,200

California

Litigation Attorney $140,000
Controller $138,500
Director, Marketing $117,000

Metrc Operator $34,200
Dispensary Sales Associate $35,300
Receptionist $41,600

Colorado

Chair, Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences $230,000
Director, Division of Addiction Science, Prevention, and Treatment $182,500
Director of Sales $110,500

Budtender $29,120
Shift Lead $32,240
Growth Phase I Advanced Farmer $34,320

Connecticut

Commercial Real Estate Attorney $142,000
Grower/Greenhouse Manager $82,650
Hemp Dispensary Associate $65,520

Packaging Specialist $32,000
Trim Technician $33,280
Maintenance Specialist $41,600

Delaware

LIMS Implementation Specialist $92,000
Cannabis Program Sales Manager $88,500
Dispensary Manager $70,000

Dispensary Technician $30,160
Part Time Sales Associate $33,280
Part Time Retail Associate $33,280

Florida

Medical Doctor $240,000
Medical Marijuana Dr. $137,000
Corporate Counsel - Commercial Transactions $137,000

Assistant Grower $29,120
Budtender Part-Time $30,160
Cultivation Associate $30,500

Georgia

Field Service Technician $80,000
Assistant Attorney General $65,000
Branch Manager $50,00

Customer Service Bud Tender/Cashier $16,640
Sales Associate $22,880
Repack $26,000

Hawaii

Algae Field Cultivation Supervisor $49,400
Senior Greenhouse Grower $47,300
Cultivation Specialist $39,000

Medical Cannabis Trimmer $24,960
Cannabis Packaging Technician $24,960
Sales Associate $28,080

Idaho

Sales Executive $105,414
Sales Representative $80,000
Tax Associate I $58,400

Grower Accounting Specialist $51,500

Illinois

Senior Vice President, Quality Assurance $178,000
Director, Labor Relations $167,500
Finance and Operations Support Lead $166,000

Dispensary Security / Check-in Agent $26,200
Sales Associate $29,120
Dispensary Customer Consultant/Budtender $33,400

Indiana

Medical Marijuana Physician $395,200
Cannabis Program Sales Manager $88,800
Field Service Technician $80,100

Sales Associate $20,800
Quality Lab Technician $41,600
Copywriter $44,720

Iowa

Director of Cultivation $96,650
Human Resources Manager $67,500
Senior Accountant $62,500

Dispensary Associate $31,200
Production Associate I (Extraction and Processing) $38,480
Retail Medical Dispensary Manager $40,000

Kansas

Executive and Personal Assistant $65,900
Section Grower Trainee/Wholesale Nursery $47,500
Assistant Grower $43,900

Optician $30,160
Retail Sales Associate $31,200
Grower $33,700

Kentucky

Tree Grower $87,600
Senior Operations Manager $72,000
Travelling Brand Ambassador $49,000

Dental Dispensary Associate $30,680
Production Worker $31,200
Edibles Grower $32,500

Louisiana

Staff Pharmacist $105,040
Kitchen Helper $44,720
Social Media Account Manager $42,400

Part time Hydroponic Grower $20,800
Cannabis lab tech $20,800
Office Cashier $23,000

Maine

Audit Manager $112,978
Associate Attorney $92,500
Director of Marketing $76,700

Budtender $31,800
Packaging Associate $31,800
Harvest Associate $32,500

Maryland

Controller $99,350
Facility Operations Director $97,350
Public Relations Account Director, Health & Wellness $92,300

Key Holder $29,680
Full Time Budtender $30,740
Lab Processing Assistant $31,800

Massachusetts

Senior Full Stack Developer $135,000
Director of Operations $127,500
Marketing Director $130,000

Retail Salesperson $29,400
Cannabis Trimming Associate $31,800
Dispensary Concierge $31,800

Michigan

Laboratory Supervisor $135,000
Cannabis Real Estate Dev./Regulatory, Licensing and Public Affairs Attorney $132,000
Controller (Direct Hire Client Position) $130,000

Receptionist $27,350
Order Filler $27,560
Dispensary & Sterilization Assistant $30,273

Minnesota

Pharmacist Part-Time $120,840
Litigation Attorney $95,000
Senior Scientist $75,000

Patient Care Coordinator Part-Time $24,300
BudTender $28,620
Delivery Driver $30,740

Mississippi

Licensed Doctor $424,000
Optometrist Licensed $212,000
Nurse Practitioner/Physician Assistant $100,700

Budtender/Receptionist $21,730
Cannabis Trimmer $27,560
Post Harvest Supervisor $35,000

Missouri

Medical Doctor or Osteopath for Medical Marijuana Certifications $112,000
Senior Counsel $116,000
General Manager $102,000

Cashier/Sales Associate $25,440
Patient Consultant $26,50
Delivery Driver/Budtender $28,620

Montana

Marketing Director $50,000
Budtender $45,580
Cultivation Manager $45,580

Budtender $25,440
Cannabis Consultant $33,920
Packager $33,920

Nebraska

Associate Attorney $95,000
Human Resources Generalist $55,000

Social Media Coordinator $31,800

Nevada

Outside Sales Representative $200,000
Chief Operating Officer $200,000
Licensing & Sales Agent $130,000

Budtender $21,000
Greeter $23,000
Processor $25,200

New Hampshire

Public Health Systems & Equity Bureau Chief (Admin IV) $89,500
Cannabis Program Sales Manager $88,500
Sales Representative $80,000

Delivery Drivers $45,580
Laboratory Analyst $50,000

New Jersey

Laboratory Director-Agriscience $135,000
Audit Manager $120,000
Cost Accounting Manager $103,000

Parking Lot Attendant $27,100
Cultivation Technician $27,600
Patient Care Specialist $28,100

New Mexico

VP of Operations $144,000
Sales Executive $100,000
Cannabis Industry Lawyer $93,100

Cannabis Dispensary Budtender $25,440
Cannabis Technician $26,500
CBD Production Technician $27,560

New York

Outpatient Psychiatrist $450,000
Telehealth Doctor $254,400
Laboratory Manager $175,400

Dispensary Associate $28,900
Hospitality Associate $30,700
Production Technician $31,800

North Carolina

Attorney $140,000
Tax Manager $110,000
ERP Specialist $75,000

Wellness Consultant $25,440
Hemp Wellness Coach $25,440
Production Assembler $31,800

North Dakota

Origination and Grower Services $58,600
Communications & Grower Services Specialist $53,000
Cultivation Tech $35,600

Packaging Tech $31,800
Processing Tech $31,800
Cultivation Tech $31,800

Ohio

Epicor Developer $96,500
Facilities Maintenance Manager $90,000
Senior Human Resources Benefit Administrator/Generalist $85,000

Sales Associate $22,260
Lab Specialist $25,500
Patient Care Specialist $27,300

Oklahoma

Lab Director $85,000
Sales Advisor - Cultivators $80,900
Senior Staff Accountant $60,000

Budtender $22,260
Dispensary Data Entry $23,320
Harvester $25,440

Oregon

Chief Financial Officer $200,000
Accounting Manager $100,000
Warehouse Operations Manager $90,000

Sales Representative $28,620
Service Support Team Member $29,680
Cannabis Sales Associate $30,210

Pennsylvania

Dispensary Pharmacist $137,800
Environment, Health and Safety Manager $115,000
Territory Sales Manager $90,000

Sterilization and Dispensary Clerk $26,500
Post Trim Technician $31,800
Entry Level Lab Tech $34,980

Rhode Island

Business Advisory Solutions (BAS) Manager $123,800
Associate Director of Residence Life for Personnel Development & Community Cultivation $89,650
Tax Staff $80,200

Budtender $28,400
Production Technician $31,800
Cannabis Trimmer/Grow Assistant $32,240

South Carolina

Cannabis Program Sales Manager $88,800
Sales Representative $79,600
Head Grower $50,100

Production/Warehouse Associate $20,800
Retail Sales Associate $20,800
Budtender $23,920

South Dakota

Nurse Practitioner $124,800
APRN (advanced practice registered nurse) $75,000
Cannabis Program Sales Manager $88,800

Dispensary Agent (Budtender) $30,160
Medical Cannabis Dispensary Assistant Manager $32,800
Lab Technician $44,720

Tennessee

Accounting Transformation Manager $117,000
Host / Server $72,800
Head Grower - Organic, Regenerative $44,900

Budtender/Shift Lead $20,800
Hemp Dispensary Retail Associate $22,880
Cashier $29,120

Texas

Physician (MD or DO) -Telemedicine Medical Cannabis $260,000
Product Manager $111,950
Director, Strategy & Transformation $104,000

Sales Associate $22,880
Cashier and Customer Service $22,880
Grower $24,960

Utah

Advanced Practice Registered Nurse $208,000
QMP $114,400
Medical Cannabis Pharmacist $104,000

Customer Service $24,960
Retail Associate $28,500
Cosmetology Receptionist/Dispensary Clerk $29,120

Vermont

Cannabis Control Board Compliance Agent $61,963
Dispensary Manager $55,000
Assistant Grower $46,000

Harvest Associate $30,100
Cannabis Consultant $35,360
Cultivation Associate $33,800

Virginia

Doctor-Recommending Physician $208,000
Cannabis Industry Lawyer $185,900
Director of Cultivation $123,500

Budtender $28,080
Grower Helper $31,200
Packaging Technician $33,280

Washington

Chief Financial Officer $120,000
Agricultural Innovation Sector Lead $115,000
Consumer Protection Division Deputy Division Director $86,000

Herbal Consultant (Budtender) $30,139
Cannabis Packager $30,160
Assistant Grower $31,200

West Virginia

Physician (MD or DO) $175,000
MD or DO to certify Medical Marijuana Patients $150,000
Maintenance Manager $85,500

Retail Sales Associate $20,800
Cannabis Expert for Retail Store $22,880
Production Specialist $33,000

Wisconsin

Wholesale And Distribution Sales Manager $50,400
Graphic Designer $50,000
Retail Store General Manager $45,000

Budtender $22,880
Hemp Operations Team Member $35,360
Greenhouse Grower $35,360

Wyoming

Operations Manager $94,750

 

US States That Offer Majors in Cannabis 

And now about cannabis education. Usually, employers do not require any special education in the cannabis field. For example, if you are going to work as an accountant or a brand manager, you will likely need to take traditional classes to get a job. But if you want to work in pharmacology or horticulture or increase your chances of getting a job offer in cannabis entrepreneurship, you should look into marijuana-related targeted classes.The state in which we found the most significant number of cannabis courses was Illinois. We identified 17 educational institutions with marijuana classes. Following Illinois comes New York with 13 options for cannabis studies. In Pennsylvania, we found eight courses to study cannabis. California (7) and Colorado (5) are close to the top five states that offer cannabis-related majors. 

Sources: 

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