The Best-Paying Jobs You Can Find in the Marijuana Industry

As politicians debate legalizing marijuana, keep in mind that proposals involve more than treatment for health conditions and improvements to America’s dated drug laws. It’s also an economic issue.

You can already see the impact on job growth and tax revenue in states that have legal cannabis industries. In fact, jobs that never existed (like medical marijuana delivery person) now provide an income for people in dozens of states.

But there is plenty of room for advancement, too. If you scan available jobs on employment sites, you’ll see plenty of positions paying six figures in the cannabis industry once you have experience. Here are 10 of the best-paying jobs you can find in marijuana.

10. Cannabis product development lead

Customers buy cannabis products at Essence Vegas Cannabis Dispensary after the start of recreational marijuana sales began in Las Vegas, Nevada

Developing new pot-based products is an essential part of the industry. | Ethan Miller/Getty Images

  • Salary: $70K-90K

There’s more than a few ways to consume marijuana, and the cannabis product development lead explores the possibilities. Experience with extraction, purification, and past product development would be necessary to land the job.

If you have the experience, the payoff is big. A job starting in August 2018 offered up to $90,000 a year with benefits.

Next: If you can run a dispensary, you’ll get paid.

9. Dispensary manager

Alison Holcomb criminal justice director at the Washington state ACLU, buys marijuana at the Cannabis City retail marijuana store

Dispensary managers can make great money. | Elaine Thompson/AP/Getty Images

  • Salary: $75K-85K plus bonus

In California, an established medical marijuana industry made the addition of recreational weed easier. As of 2018, dispensaries are gearing up for big business and paying employees well.

Up in San Leandro (just south of Oakland), a dispensary manager’s salary could start at $85,000 and go up with performance bonuses. You’ll need strong retail experience and a bachelor’s degree to land this position.

Next: If you can cook edible products, good-paying jobs await.

8. Head edibles chef

Argentine chef Natalia Revelant teaches people interested in medicinal cuisine

Cooking edibles can bring in good money. | Martin Bernetti/AFP/Getty Images

  • Salary: $80K-100K

As product development teams dream up new possibilities for edible marijuana goods, they need something to concoct them in the kitchen. That’s where edibles chefs enter the picture.

While a starting job in a cannabis kitchen pays something near or below America’s median salary, standouts in the industry make much more. In fact, head edible chefs can earn $90,000-$100,000.

Next: A background in horticulture now applies to the legal cannabis industry.

7. Applied research biologist

People with a background in horticulture could make a good living. | Lars Hagberg/AFP/Getty Images

  • Salary: $95,000

Cannabis is already beginning to power the Nevada job market, as you can see in positions available in the city of Sparks on Simply Hired. (Nevada legalized recreational marijuana in July 2017.)

Candidates with a background in horticulture can now apply those skills to the cannabis industry. Work as an applied research biologist now pays as much as $95,000.

Next: Cannabis companies pay well for financial controllers.

6. Controller

Businessman using a calculator to calculate the numbers.

CPAs can find good jobs in the marijuana industry. | utah778/Getty Images

  • Salary: $80K-95K plus bonus

Another great job in the cannabis industry is financial controller. A Certified Public Accountant (CPA) with several years of experience leading a team can apply for the position.

Responsibilities include overseeing all accounting practices for a marijuana company and hiring staff as necessary. Cannabis industry experience isn’t required, and pay packages go as high as $95,000 with bonuses, as you can see in an April 2018 job posting.

Next: Lab tech skills pay, especially in the marijuana industry.

5. Cannabis lab technician

Lab work is important and lucrative in the industry. | Uriel Sinai/Getty Images

  • Salary: $75K-110K

If you have two years of lab experience and have done some work with cannabis, high-paying positions await. For example, a job at an L.A. lab pays up to $110,000, according to a Simply Hired post from March 2018.

As with work in other industries, you’d need a background in chemistry to get your foot in the door. But even better-paying positions await.

Next: Cultivation is king in the marijuana industry.

4. Director of cultivation

marijuana greenhouse

Directors of cultivation are incredibly important. | Uriel Sinai/Getty Images

  • Salary: $80K-110K

To land a job as director of cultivation in a marijuana company, you’ll need at least five years of experience managing cultivation and personnel. Meanwhile, you’ll need to know cannabis law and be able to manage regulatory guidelines.

However, you’ll get paid well for it. These lead positions earn job holders as much as $110,000 in base salary.

Next: Only master cannabis growers need apply.

3. Cannabis head grower 

Head growers often have years of experience. | Uriel Sinai/Getty Images

  • Salary: $100K-120K

For a job like cannabis head grower, you’ll need many years of experience managing crops for a large company. In other words, this position is for people who got in the business early.

However, that should encourage anyone getting started in lower-level grower jobs. If you make it to the top, you can bank $120,000 per year.

Next: Turning plants into essences is hard work, but the salary is appropriate.

2. Lead cannabis extraction specialist

Cannabis extraction is a highly specialized skill. | Desiree Martin/AFP/Getty Images

  • Salary: $120K

As with high-paying cultivation work, a lead cannabis extraction technician needs specialized skills. For example, you’d need to have put in three years in extraction at a lab.

Meanwhile, you’d have to understand manufacturing processes inside and out. But the payoff is huge: $120,000 at the top end.

Next: Marijuana retail operations are exploding, and salaries are jumping appropriately.

1. Dispensary director of retail ops

Tourists on a four-wheel leisure vehicle pass the Coughie Pot marijuana dispensary

Running dispensaries isn’t easy, but it is lucrative. | Natalie Behring/Getty Images

  • Salary: $125,000

Now that we’re out of the “medical marijuana only” phase, retail operations in the industry are plowing forward. Outside of owning your own cannabis business, you’ll find the highest-paying work in the marijuana industry as a dispensary director of retail operations.

In a word, the job involves running the show at a chain of dispensaries. You’ll need an MBA as well as management and retail experience. But you’re guaranteed to make six figures and have room to grow.

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