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After the marijuana plants are grown, harvested, and cut, a portion of the plant is sold as flower, and the rest (the “smalls”) are sent off to the lab to produce cannabis extracts, including oils and tincture. In industry speak, we call this extraction.
Extraction is perfect for those who have a background in science and chemistry. Another part of this process that presents plenty of job opportunities is testing labs. All cannabis must be tested for microbes, solvents, pesticides, and other potentially harmful substances at a state-licensed cannabis laboratory. This must be done before it can be sold as flower or turned into oil. Lab jobs include director of product development, lab manager, lab tech, tissue culture scientist, and director of extraction.
The lab and extraction team includes extraction jobs and other lab jobs such as those in lab management and product development; concentrates processors; cannabis lab technicians; quality managers; and cannabis lab directors. All these roles demand technical skill sets, and those with more senior roles require years of experience.
A lab director runs the post-harvest process, which includes performing a chemical analysis to decide the harvest time. They juggle a range of responsibilities, including managing lab technicians and other team members, making sure their facility is legally compliant, as well as running quality assurance (QA) and quality control (QC) procedures. Lab directors run and maintain extraction machines, standard lab equipment, and vacuum ovens. Combining proven management skills and ability in extraction techniques, this role is one of the most vital cannabis jobs out there.
The position of quality manager in cannabis is all about overseeing product testing, making sure the facility is following excellent production practices. A quality manager is responsible for reviewing and approving cannabis testing and processing methods, as well as investigating any complaints concerning the quality of the marijuana. If quality is compromised, the quality manager must take immediate action to identify and correct the error within the process. And they should also develop preventative measures to ensure the cannabis is safe for use.
If you’re looking to become a concentrates processor, you’ll need to have skills in chemistry and incredible attention to detail to create safe concentrates, which include hash oils and dabs. Concentrates can have immense effects, making them highly beneficial to medical cannabis patients. Yet they’re also used for recreational purposes. They’re getting more popular every day, so more and more concentrates processor roles will likely pop up.
If you want a job in extraction, find the type of role you want. Unlike many other cannabis jobs, a lab or extraction position requires specific certifications or qualifications. This is a highly technical field to work in. Therefore, relevant education and work experience will give you an edge. For higher-paying extraction roles, you will need a science or chemistry background and a degree.
However, there are also entry-level extraction or lab roles in cannabis. For lab or extraction technician roles, you may only need lab training. If you have experience as a mechanic, chef, or agriculture tech, you may qualify for a technician role if you are willing to learn. Here are some of the most popular roles in extraction:
To get your foot in the door of a cannabis lab, the ideal position is that of an extraction technician. Let’s look at what it takes to be an extraction technician in the cannabis industry.
As a cannabis extraction technician, you will be helping to extract and isolate active ingredients from cannabis. This includes cannabinoids, terpenes, and flavonoids. There are various roles and job duties for an extraction technician. It all depends on the lab sizes and processes used. However, at the end of the day, the goal is the same: produce high-quality concentrates.
Having an educational or professional background in the following will put you in a good position to get hired as a cannabis extraction technician:
Employers will favor candidates with chemistry or lab science experience. However, HVAC tech, plumbing, and other types of mechanic experience will help, too.
There are also companies that are willing to train techs from the ground up. Some entry-level tech positions only require a high school diploma or GED. Therefore, if you are willing to learn, you may land an entry-level role as an extraction tech.
The hiring decision makers at a lab are looking for extraction candidates that work hard and smart. There are three skills that will help you get a job in extraction:
Salary guide download for the Tri-State cannabis market