Cannabis jobs are on the rise and salaries are increasing, according to a new report by employment agency Vangst. Those figures are set to grow further as capital continues to flow into the industry and the work force gains experience.

Vangst, founded in 2015, has connected about 7,500 job seekers with the emerging legal weed industry. Recently the company surveyed 1200 cannabis companies, to find out who they’re hiring and how much they are paying. Vangst added information it has collected in its day-to-day operations to those survey results to put together a cannabis salary guide.

Vangst CEO Karson Humiston, said the industry is rapidly outpacing other US job area growth. “Growth of the marijuana industry has been extraordinary in every sense,” said Jon Fanburg, an attorney at the New Jersey law firm Brach Eichler. He was one of nearly 800 attendees at a bidder’s conference for six new medical cannabis sales licenses in New Jersey recently. He said he’s seen, “no shortage of capital and no shortage of property owners willing to supply locations,” in the industry.

According to Vangst, the most hired positions in legal cannabis are Director of Extraction, Director of Cultivation, Compliance Manager, Dispensary Manager, Outside Sales Representatives, Bud-tenders and Trimmers.

The range of salaries for some of these positions is surprisingly large. The salary span Vangst found for Director of Cultivation ranged from $47,000 to $250,000.  The duties for the job include establishing standard operating procedures, managing nutrient, pest control and harvest schedules for cannabis grow operations. Cultivation directors need to train their team to produce high quality, healthy plants, using practices that are compliant with all state and local regulations.

Lower-skilled jobs had a smaller average-wage span. Budtenders, who work in retail locations recommending products and making sure all sales are properly tracked, made between $12 and $16 per hour. Trimmers who manicure harvested flower to be sold, make between $11.50 and $14.40 per hour.

Vangst found one of the main reasons for the salary ranges had to do with experience levels of the candidates. On the lower end, applicants did not have all the required work skills and qualifications needed to get up and running quickly. They would need significant training to get up to speed. On the other end of the spectrum, candidates had “extremely high, relevant experience” related to the job as well as advanced degrees or certificates, according to the report.

Company funding and size also affects salary levels. Well-funded companies in newly legalized states sometimes have higher salaries said Humiston. She said the new companies “want to be extremely competitive in their market from the start, which requires top talent.”

While the attention often focuses on California and Colorado as the largest cannabis job markets, Humiston says other markets are rapidly expanding as well. A market often overlooked, is in Illinois she said. “We currently work very closely with Green Thumb Industries and Cresco Labs, both companies headquarters are in Chicago and are recruiting roles in marketing, finance, IT, HR,  and legal,” she said.

Humiston says salaries will continue to rise as funding continues to come in and candidates gain more experience within the industry. Humiston said she’d already seen a Director of Cultivation in Colorado receiving a 25% salary increase to move to newly legalized Maryland and bring their skills and experiences there.

Article appeared in FORBES on 9/24/18 by Julie Weed.


Author of the best-selling All I Really Need to Know in Business I Learned at Microsoft. I now write about the marijuana industry and, yes, Weed is my real last name. I’ve written about 100 articles for The New York Times, as well as articles and cover stories for Inc. magazine.

Julie Weed wrote the best-selling All I Really Need to Know in Business I Learned at Microsoft. Follow her on Twitter @julie_weed and at

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