We spoke with top recruiters in the cannabis business, where openings are plentiful and salaries can top $100,000. Here are their 3 best tips for landing your dream job.
Cannabis companies are growing rapidly. They're a great place to look for jobs, from entry-level retail positions all the way up to senior management. To get a sense of how to best land a job in the booming industry, Business Insider spoke with some of the top recruiters in the cannabis world. They told us their best tips — and explained why being passionate about cannabis isn't enough to land a new role. Click here for more BI Prime stories.
If you're looking for a new gig, the burgeoning cannabis industry is probably a good place to start. As the industry grows and cannabis becomes legal in more parts of the US, the number of cannabis-related job postings has quadrupled, from 231 per million in May 2016 to 915 per million in May 2019, according to data from the job search site Indeed. Overall, the cannabis industry employs about 200,000 people in the US now, and that number is expected to increase to over 400,000 by 2021, according to Vangst, a cannabis-industry recruiting startup More people are looking for jobs in the industry as well. From May 2016 to May 2019, cannabis-related job searches have skyrocketed 650%. "There are very few industries that have seen a sevenfold increase in job-seeker searches in three years," Andrew Flowers, an economist at Indeed and the author of a recent report on cannabis hiring told Business Insider in August. Wall Street analysts say cannabis could become an $85 billion industry by 2030, and most Democratic candidates for president have advocated for full-scale legalization. Michigan began legal recreational cannabis sales on December 1, and Illinois will allow sales at the beginning of next year. The cannabis industry is complex and companies are hiring people with a variety of backgrounds, from entry-level retail to senior-level finance and M&A positions, to pharmacists, biochemists, and horticulture experts. Jobs in the industry pay well, and some can command six-figure salaries, according to Vangst. Vice presidents of retail can take home an average salary of $104,000, while a vice president of manufacturing can make $134,000 on average. Budtenders make about $14.90 an hour, on average. Read more: Here's how much key jobs in the cannabis industry pay, from budtender to cultivation director To get a sense of how to best land a job in the booming industry, Business Insider spoke with some of the top recruiters in the cannabis world. Here are their best tips. Tip No. 1: Bring a 'startup' mindset. Like any new, exciting space, cannabis companies are growing rapidly. But unlike many other industries, cannabis companies are operating in a murky legal climate where regulations are constantly shifting and businesses are sometimes forced to pivot on a dime. "People call it 'cannabis time' because things are just moving so fast," said Katherine Kramer, a research associate at the executive search firm Whitney Partners. "You have to be very comfortable with uncertainty and a constantly changing market." Karson Humiston, the CEO of Denver-based Vangst, which places job candidates into cannabis companies, agrees. "There's a ton of hype around the cannabis industry right now," Humiston said. If you're coming from a big, established company where everything is organized and every department is laid out with standard operating procedures, you may have a tough transition into the cannabis world "where every company is still a startup," she said. Read more: 'It's a once in a decade opportunity': How top VC firms like Greycroft and Lerer Hippeau are cautiously opening their doors to the potentially $194 billion cannabis industry "Don't go into cannabis if you want to be able to hide behind other people," Humiston said. "You need to go in being ready to provide value and roll up your sleeves and do a ton of different jobs." To Humiston, the most successful candidates in cannabis have come from hyper-growth startups in other industries. "They get ready to pivot and jump a million ways and they're excited and energized by all the changes," she said. On that front, Ed Schmults, the CEO of the cannabis company Calyx Peak Capital, previously told Business Insider he's focused on recruiting "nimble" employees from small startups. "I think what you really want at the start of an industry are people who've been involved in smaller companies who can work fast, be nimble, and wear multiple hats," Schmults said. Tip No. 2: Look at US cannabis retailers (multi-state operators) and cannabis tech startups. Bonus if you have finance experience.
As cannabis companies mature, they're looking for senior executives across accounting, finance, marketing, and retail roles to help build out their teams. One of the biggest trends that Humiston said she's seen this year is publicly traded US cannabis companies is that they're leveling up their teams by hiring more experienced leaders. These companies, like Green Thumb Industries, Columbia Care, and Cresco, among others, are expanding rapidly into new markets and have "really aggressive" growth goals, she said. "They need that level of VPs, executives, and directors who have experience in traditional retail and other mature industries," said Humiston, especially as these companies go from managing, say, three or four pot shops in one state, to a network of hundreds of stores across many states — all with their own specific regulations. Read more: CBD and hemp startups are using creative loopholes to skirt Facebook's ad ban. Here's how they're doing it. On top of that, cannabis companies, like any other emerging industry, are increasingly fighting for market share and hunting for acquisitions. That means they're in a period where they're raising lots of capital, so they need financial experts and people with investment banking experience. "Companies maybe went from having a more entry-level bookkeeper to really saying, OK, we need to hire a CFO," Humiston said. "I think that what's happening is you're bringing in that top-level person — potentially a CFO or the VP of finance — and then they're getting involved and saying, here are six additional accounting rules that we need to support this growing business. And so we've seen just a ton of finance roles this year." Read more: These execs are leaving behind careers at companies like Coke and Victoria's Secret to tap into the $194 billion marijuana industry A quick scan of cannabis retailer Green Thumb Industry's open jobs reveals hundreds of open positions across every division from human resources, to retail, to accounting. And like any other business, there's high turnover among entry-level retail and cultivation employees. "There's a constant need to recruit budtenders and entry-level horticulturalists," Humiston said. Besides the bigger, publicly traded cannabis companies, tech startups that serve the industry — like cannabis marketplace LeafLink or cannabis vaporizer company Pax — are also growing rapidly, according to Humiston. Pax, for its part, has over 100 job openings in multiple states for positions ranging from sales to user experience research. Tip No. 3: Being passionate about cannabis isn't enough.
While cannabis companies may certainly appreciate a candidate being passionate about the product, you need to bring "hard skills" to the table, Humiston said. "Saying, 'I love cannabis' isn't enough," Humiston said. "Now companies need real hard skills and real hard experience that are going to add value to their business." Kramer, from Whitney Partners, said employers in cannabis are looking for experienced workers. "Having an industry background is super helpful," Kramer said. "Whether its consumer retail, industrial, or cultivation, there are so many subsectors in cannabis. Kramer's best advice: "Find your niche and run with it." And don't be scared to switch up your geography if you really want to land a cannabis job. Humiston said Oklahoma, which legalized cannabis for medical use last year, has one of the fastest-growing cannabis industries in the US. It's a direct effect of the number of medical licenses the state has issued. "We've seen a ton of growth in states like Oklahoma, Florida, and Nevada this year," Humiston said. For those of you who are still in school, Humiston expects cannabis companies to recruit from colleges and universities with cannabis programs, like Niagara University, in Ontario. "It's still early days," Humiston said. "It's a great chance for people to get in with a company and be a part of building the industry."
Read more: Brand house Cannabis One just brought in a top dealmaker to chase down unconventional deals in the nascent sector From Pax Labs to Surterra Wellness, VCs have poured over $1.6 billion into cannabis startups this year alone as investor interest in the burgeoning industry explodes Cannabis could become a $60 billion industry in the US. That's more than double the market for vitamins and supplements. Buzzy cannabis-delivery startup Eaze is looking to raise a new round that could value it at $400 million This article was published in September 2019 and has been updated. Join the conversation about this story » NOW WATCH: The Marvel movies pay incredible attention to the physics of Captain America's shield
More like this (3)
Three things you can do today to help land a job in venture capital, according to a VC and two top industry recruiters
Summary List PlacementBreaking into the venture capital industry is notoriously hard. Top firms rarely post job...Summary List PlacementBreaking into the venture capital industry is notoriously hard. Top firms rarely post job openings on their websites and many enter the field only after a career elsewhere, providing them with track records as startup founders or execs at top tech companies. But industry insiders say that it is also possible to land a coveted entry-level job and work your way up...
Top psychedelics companies told us why they don't plan to participate in Oregon's historic magic mushrooms program: 'We've got our eyes on the long game'
Summary List PlacementOregon made history in November when it passed a measure to create a regulated...Summary List PlacementOregon made history in November when it passed a measure to create a regulated therapeutic psilocybin program, opening the door to what could be the first legal market for psychedelic medications on the state level. The use of psychedelics as treatments for mental health conditions, as well as for a variety of ailments like opioid addiction and Alzheimer's disease, has been gaining...
How leaders should address race with their employees, the Warren Buffett of tech, and top healthcare startups
Hello everyone! Welcome to this weekly roundup of the top stories in business from Business Insider...Hello everyone! Welcome to this weekly roundup of the top stories in business from Business Insider executive editor Matt Turner. Please subscribe here to get this newsletter in your inbox every Sunday. New York. Atlanta. Los Angeles. Denver. Dallas. Detroit. Washington, DC. Seattle. Miami. Chicago. Thousands marched in cities across the US last night, with many of the protests turning violent. The protests first...