Contrary to stigma, cannabis and college are the perfect pairing for individuals looking to form professional careers in the cannabusiness. Jobs for stoners with college degrees are numerous and represent some of the most crucial, in-demand positions in the industry.
As legal marijuana builds its credentials through its employees and proves to be an industry to be reckoned with financially, more and more cannabis aficionados will pursue college degrees to help them gain jobs working with marijuana business.
Although there are specific cannabis jobs that require college degrees, most positions in the industry will strongly consider college graduates who have shown consistency and growth throughout their continuing education.
This is not to say that job candidates without degrees will be automatically ineligible for careers; in fact, one of the beauties of this business is that it is geared toward those with experience, rather than academic ability.
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Jobs for Stoners with College Degrees?
As the cannabusiness extends its reach and encompasses other industries, opportunities to gain employment with cannabis are more available than ever before. Jobs for stoners with college degrees largely describe leadership positions that require field experience in addition to holding a degree.
Concentrate Extraction Technician
- Degree: BS Chemistry or Higher
- Salary: $80,000-105,000
Concentrate extraction technicians are a relatively new addition to legal cannabis operations. As consumer drive for cannabis concentrates continues to boom, experienced, trustworthy individuals are needed to perform the task of turning cannabis flower and trim in sticky, waxy, crumbly concentrates.
Senior level extraction technicians accept their position, knowing the many responsibilities and potential for danger that comes with the job. The process of transforming greens in concentrate involves using solvents, (CO2 and butane) heat and pressure to create a chemical reaction that separates plant matter from compounds like cannabinoids and terpenoids. The final product? A highly potent substance that can be smoked, vaporized or infused into edibles.
As far as hard and fast job qualifications go, it makes sense that most extraction labs desire candidates with degrees in chemistry. For lab assistant positions, it’s likely that employees have at least a BS in chemistry or an associated science, while lead technicians likely have advanced degrees in the same field of study. Currently, cannabis extraction jobs are one of the best jobs for stoners with college degrees as the position has a positive growth outlook, comes padded with high wages and facilitates an important process for the legal cannabis industry.
Green Rush Daily reports that extraction techs can make anywhere from $80,000-$105,000 a year– not bad for working with weed. While the appeal for extraction techs jobs is understandably high, the position requires only the most adept, organized and safety conscious job candidates.
Master Grower/Grow Operation Leader
- Degree: BS Horticulture/Agriculture or Higher
- Salary: $100,000+
All the cannabis flower strains and products you find in dispensaries don’t appear there out of thin air–indoor and outdoor grow operations are led by master growers who are wise sages of marijuana cultivation. Leading a grow operation is one of the highest attainable positions in the cannabusiness and comes with a hefty dose of personal accountability, creativity and leadership skills.
Master growers are in charge of personally investing into every part of the grow process, including grow operation setup and management, facilitation of soil or hydroponics systems, plant nutrition, humidity, light, pest control, transporting, cloning, pruning, harvesting and everything in between. Although master growers in larger operations have assistant grower staff to assist them with daily upkeep, the success or failure of the crop is ultimately placed on the master grower.
Cultivation is a stressful job; in a way, growing cannabis can be a bit like gambling–the opportunities for big payouts is just as possible as losing an entire crop. Master growers are expected to have years of professionally leading and assisting with successful grow operations. Master growers have a good deal of pride and know that their reputation is on the line every season.
Many master growers have degrees in horticulture and agriculture and use their vast knowledge of cultivation and cannabis to engender the most successful operation. Certainly there are celebrated master growers without college degrees, however, as the legal industry continues to be dominated by stringent regulations, cannabis cultivation jobs will likely mirror the rest of the American job market by all but requiring college degrees.
The salary for master growers ranges, depending on a number of factors including Grow-op size, location and business partnerships, but it is common for master growers to make $100,000 a year or more if they receive bonuses or percentages of the grow operation’s total profit.
- Degree: BA Finance, BS Accounting; Advanced Degrees in law
- Salary: Around $100,000
As more cannabis entrepreneurs seek to open businesses, consultants are in high demand to help navigate owners through the complicated, stringent nature of the legal industry. Law firms and independent lawyers are increasingly narrowing their focus on cannabis law, charging high fees to assist potential business owners with filing licensing applications and understanding how to follow regulatory compliance.
Legal cannabis grow operations, edibles production facilities and extraction labs all can benefit from the guidance of cannabis consultants, who can make sure that each employee is following the rules to a T, assuring that the business won’t be shut down should it be raided or audited.
Cannabis consultants in accounting are highly sought after as well to help cannabis dispensaries and other sectors of the industry track sales and revenue, as well as correctly file taxes. At present, marijuana in still a predominantly cash business, even in the legal industry. Most banks refuse to let cannabusinesses open accounts until cannabis is federally legal.
While the federal government doesn’t forbid banks from partnering with legal businesses outright, participating banks are threatened with severe disciplinary action should it be discovered that the businesses were breaking any of the many laws and compliance measures surrounding cannabis distribution.
Whether assisting with the legal or financial hurdles facing the industry, consultants use their niche expertise to get entrepreneurs on the path to success. Cannabis consulting jobs are one of the primary jobs for stoners with college degrees, as most individuals in this industry leverage their professional credentials to make good incomes. Accountants are expected to at least have a Bachelor’s degree, while lawyers of course must endure years of education and continuing ed.
All that hard work does pay off, though– cannabis consultants can make six figure salaries, sometimes charging clients $5,000 a day in consultation fees.
- Degree: BA/BS Marketing; Business Administration
- Salary: $42,000-245,000
Marketing is largely responsible for the mass rebranding of the marijuana industry into the professional legal business it is shaping up to be. Similar to consultants, niche cannabis marketing firms are appearing in greater numbers across the country to assist businesses in widening their advertising reach and establishing professional credibility out of the rubble of century long stigma against the potent plant.
Indeed, the use of the word “cannabis” in replacement of “marijuana” is perhaps the most significant achievement of marketers in the cannabusiness. After decades of using the “marijuana” as a term, advocates chose to replace the outdated, racist term in favor of the plant’s actual genus name, “cannabis.”
This shift is just one of many significant rebranding efforts with the goal of eliminating the negative connotations surrounding cannabis. Marketers work with businesses to advertise cannabusinesses and products through the lens of cannabis as medicine and a viable recreational activity. Many cannabis advertisements focus on appealing to a greater demographic of novice and experienced smokers.
Essentially, these jobs for stoners with college degrees aim to bring cannabis out of the black market and into the light. Finding gainful employment in cannabis marketing firms often requires a Bachelor’s degree of some sort, particularly those in business or marketing. Agencies want to make sure that entry level employees, all the way up through senior managers are suited to take the important responsibility of steering the cannabis ship into unprecedented territory.
Compensation for marketers varies widely depending on the position, but entry level marijuana jobs begin around the $40,000 mark, increasing from there.
- Degree: Associate’s Degree; Bachelor’s Degree
- Salary: $21,120 – $26,880+
One thing that is important to remember about having a college degree is that it does not guarantee to help you find employment in advanced careers. Plenty of educated, bright job candidates are working budtender jobs in dispensaries and other entry level jobs like trimming.
Budtenders can be likened as the barista of the weed world. These insightful, well informed individuals help medical patients and recreational customers understand and select cannabis products from the dispensary display. Besides knowing the differences between individual flower strains, budtenders can accurately suggest the best products to suit a customer’s medical needs or intended high.
As more students obtain college degrees and the American job market is further stuffed with overqualified candidates for entry level jobs, budtenders are a light at the end of the tunnel for advancing into higher ranking cannabis jobs. Working as a budtender is a great springboard to become a cannabis cultivator or processor. Budtenders work hands on with a constantly rotating selection of products and must interact with industry professionals and passionate potheads from all walks of life.
Budtenders don’t have to be college graduates to find jobs as budtenders, yet this position is still one of the best jobs for stoners with college degrees as it offers a kush environment for working with cannabis, being part of a community and getting discounts on products. What hiring managers are looking for most in budtender job applicants are effective customer servers and experienced with direct cannabis interaction.
Frequently, cannabis dispensaries will promote from within, moving budtenders into better paying positions like dispensary management. Managers have the potential of making salaries between $48,000–70,000 a year– much more than entry level budtenders.
Future Jobs for Stoners with College Degrees
The legal pot biz boasts some of the ripest opportunities for job creation and development. Jobs for stoners with college degrees are appearing in virtually every sector of the industry. Since it is still relatively young, it’s hard to tell exactly how much the industry will encourage its employees to have college degrees.
Although it seems that employers are looking for more and more advanced degrees, dissenters argue that the over-inflated cost of traditional college education isn’t worth the debt it incurs just for a piece of paper. Cannabis is known for being part of an alternative, countercultural revolution and has historically employed non-traditionally educated individuals who would’ve struggled to find work had cannabis not provided them with a home.
In any case, the cannabis industry is set to undergo an interesting next four years under a largely conservative regime. Since the industry is still regulated on a state and municipal level, it’s likely current legalization measures will stay in place; cannabis scheduling, however looks unlikely to change. The cannabis industry is exciting and competitive– jobs for stoners with college degrees are acquired by individuals with the passion and dedication to this expanding business.
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