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Tips For How To Start A Career In The Cannabis Industry

cannabis careers tips

Cannabis is the fastest growing industry in the United States with over 400,000 jobs nationwide. With more new states adopting recreational cannabis use, the industry is predicted to expand and support 500,000 jobs by 2024. This rapid growth has attracted more and more people looking to break into the exciting and lucrative world of cannabis. For many, it can be challenging to know where to start when it comes to finding a career in the cannabis industry, being that it is so new and changing so quickly. If you are interested in starting a career in cannabis, follow these steps to best position yourself to succeed.

Budtender - Careers in Cannabis Industry

Temporary Jobs

One of the most effective ways to get started in the cannabis industry, particularly for those without prior experience, is to look for a temporary job. Temp jobs rarely require a lot of cannabis-related experience, and can get your foot in the door and establish important business connections for your future career. Performing well in these positions can often be a springboard into a more permanent career in cannabis, and can also help you decide what part of the industry interests you the most. Here are a few cannabis jobs often offered as temp positions that can help you start your cannabis career.


Made out of the combination of the words “bud” and “bartender”, budtenders are the face of cannabis dispensaries. Their job is to help provide guidance for customers in selecting cannabis products, and to maintain health inspection and fire safety standards in the dispensary itself. Budtending provides product knowledge and sales experience, making it a great entry-level job for those interested in retail cannabis sales and marketing.


Trimmers are responsible for ensuring harvested marijuana buds are free of leaf and stem material and manicured for retail sale, and may also be responsible for weighing, packaging, and labeling trimmed buds. Trimmers must be knowledgeable and adherent to state laws and regulations regarding cannabis production. Trimming is a perfect entry-level position for those interested in a career in cannabis cultivation.

Delivery Driver

With the uptick in online and delivery sales in cannabis over the last year, delivery drivers are in high demand. Cannabis drivers are responsible for organizing orders and delivering cannabis products to customers at their homes. Delivery driving provides product knowledge and sales experience and requires strict adherence to state laws and regulations regarding cannabis sales and transportation. The delivery driver positions are solid entry-level jobs on the retail side of the cannabis industry. 


Cannabis industry warehouse workers can provide a variety of skill sets to an entry-level cannabis employee. Warehouse workers can gain experience managing inventory, product knowledge, and vendor relationships. Warehouse workers will also gain a thorough knowledge of state laws and regulations regarding the shipping, receiving, and storage of cannabis products. Working in a cannabis warehouse is a great way to learn the behind-the-scenes movement and storage of cannabis products and how to effectively monitor inventory control and safety procedures.

Writing Your Resume

The first step to breaking into any industry is crafting your resume for the job you want, and the cannabis industry is no different. Whether you have experience in cannabis or not, there are a number of things you can do to show why you are the right person for the job and give yourself the best chance of landing an interview.

Be professional

Start with a resume template or structure that you are comfortable with and lay out an outline for your resume. Make sure you include your personal and contact information in the header so potential employers can find you easily, and make sure the information you provide is neat and accurate.

Include quantifiable success achieved in past employment

One of the best ways to make your resume stand out is to include specific numbers when listing your experience and accomplishments in prior jobs. If you helped your last place of employment acquire new clients, including a specific number or percentage growth shows that you have the precise data to back up your claims and are not embellishing or being too vague. Specific numbers also help distinguish you in the mind of a recruiter as someone who is focused on concrete results rather than abstract qualities.           

Highlight work experience and skills

Because the cannabis industry is so new, very few people have direct experience working for a cannabis-related business. If you have direct experience, make sure to use it to your advantage by emphasizing those skill sets in a clearly defined way. If you do not have direct experience in the cannabis industry, focus on skills and strengths that will translate into the industry appropriately. For example, if you are applying to become a budtender or manager at a cannabis dispensary, having experience with point-of-sale systems, customer interactions, or people management is a big plus.

Craft your resume for a specific job

Even if you have general experience in other heavily regulated industries such as alcohol, tobacco, or pharmaceuticals, or experience working in the fast-paced small-workforce environment of a startup, those knowledge sets will translate to the highly regulated and startup-laden cannabis industry. Skills and experience in sales, inventory management, accounting, web development, digital marketing, and design are all useful in the cannabis industry, so make sure to play to your strengths and craft your resume to reflect not just what you have to offer but how it fits with the job you want.            


Because the cannabis industry is constantly changing, to be a viable candidate for an industry position requires being up to date with existing and emerging industry standards and regulations. The more knowledge you can learn about regulations, trends, news, and technologies in the constantly changing world of cannabis, the easier it is to distinguish yourself from other potential candidates for the career you want. Doing your research and reading up on the current state of cannabis can often make up for what you lack in experience.

State Laws

It is also important to research your state’s particular laws regarding working in the cannabis business to ensure that you have the appropriate certifications necessary for the position for which you are applying. Depending on the state, most growers, processors, and retailers require some form of state license, and if you are applying for a position in a “plant-touching” role, there may be a certification process that you must complete. 

For example, Colorado requires every “plant-touching” cannabis employee to acquire a MED (Marijuana Enforcement Division) badge to comply with state law. This process involves checking requirements to ensure you are eligible, acquiring, completing, and signing your application (found here), making an appointment at a local MED office, and submitting your application and fee ($100). The MED office will take your photo and fingerprints, and once your background check has been passed, you will receive your MED badge in the mail. 

Required Licenses

Be sure to find out your state’s required licenses, the application process, and background checks for the career in which you are interested. In addition to state certifications, there are also countless cannabis education programs that can help you distinguish yourself as a job candidate. Certifications for growing, cooking (edibles), opening dispensaries, delivery services, law, and medical marijuana can be acquired through online and in-person courses. While most of these courses are not mandated by law, they can help show potential employers that you have a drive for knowledge and willingness to learn everything you can about the cannabis industry.


It is important to remember that most businesses in the young burgeoning cannabis industry are startups. Because of this, most companies are small, and the employees must have a strong work ethic and be flexible about their positions to fill some of the gaps that can occur when a business is just getting its feet under it. This, coupled with continuously changing laws and regulations and the constant shifting around that comes with any rapidly growing industry, makes adaptability a must-have for any potential job candidate. A single change to a state regulation can shift an entire marketing strategy or sales model, so cannabis businesses and their employees must be agile. The upside to this shifting landscape is that it can provide tremendous learning and growth opportunities in the industry for those with the drive and ambition to succeed and the willingness to adapt.


Networking is a valuable practice in any industry, but particularly in one with a culture full of passionate people behind it, like cannabis. There are local events and meet-ups in nearly every state where recreational cannabis is legal. Getting out there and meeting other people in the cannabis industry can provide valuable information and contacts. Ask people in the cannabis field about the trajectory of their careers and how they started, collect business cards and contacts, and express interest in pursuing a career in cannabis for yourself. Conventions, events, and meet-ups are a great way to make contact with people in the business, and follow-up emails can help generate interest and yield potential interviews. Put yourself out there!

Look for Cannabis Companies That Interest You

Where you work is important regardless of the industry, as it’s a part of your identity. That is why it’s so important to research companies to get as much information as possible about their culture and how they operate. Start by making a list of cannabis companies that interest you. Learn about the mission of each company, the types of products or services they provide, and their culture. You can even research their management teams–start on LinkedIn, checking out their past experience, posts, and activity. Then, make a list of what you want in a cannabis company, as well as management. This will help you form more meaningful questions if you land interviews at these companies. But, most importantly, you will define what kind of company you want to work for.

Find a Cannabis Industry Niche and Freelance

While you are on your cannabis job search, you might find industry needs or challenges that your skills and experience can address. By finding a niche where you can attend to an unmet industry need, you may create a whole new role. For example, if you  notice local cannabis dispensaries do not have refined graphic design, you can offer professional graphic design service (if that’s your thing). If you find a niche for your skills, you can start creating a portfolio specifically for the cannabis industry by freelancing. It’s a great way to network, earn the trust of cannabis companies, and get paid. You can even make a career out of freelancing if you choose to do so.

Cannabis Events 2024

The cannabis industry is new, rapidly expanding, and in need of talented and motivated people to join its ranks. If you want to be a part of the industry and launch your career in cannabis, follow the tips listed above, get yourself out there, and start applying for jobs.


What education is required for cannabis careers?

While a specific degree isn’t always necessary, a background in horticulture, agriculture, botany, or related fields can be advantageous. Additionally, certifications in cannabis-specific courses, like those offered by various institutions and online platforms, can help.

How can I gain relevant experience in the cannabis industry?

Consider internships, volunteering, or entry-level positions at dispensaries, cultivation facilities, or ancillary businesses. Networking at industry events and staying updated with the latest trends and technologies can also provide valuable insights.

What skills are essential for success in cannabis careers?

Strong knowledge of state and federal regulations, excellent communication skills, adaptability to a fast-paced environment, critical thinking, and a passion for the cannabis industry are highly valued. Additionally, expertise in marketing, sales, research, or laboratory work can be beneficial.

What are the different sectors within the cannabis industry?

The cannabis industry comprises various sectors, including cultivation, manufacturing, retail, distribution, research, and ancillary businesses like technology, finance, and consulting. Identifying your specific area of interest can help you focus your career goals.

Are there any legal requirements to work in the cannabis industry?

Working in the cannabis industry often requires compliance with specific state and local regulations, including background checks, obtaining necessary licenses, and adhering to specific training requirements. Understanding and following these legal obligations are crucial for a successful career.

How can I build a professional network in the cannabis industry?

Attend industry events, join online forums, and actively engage with professionals in the field. Networking with industry experts, attending workshops, and participating in online communities can help you establish valuable connections and gain insights into potential job opportunities.

More Cannabis Industry Insight

2022 Tri-State Cannabis Salary Guide

Salary guide download for the Tri-State cannabis market

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2024 Cannabis Industry Salary Guide

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