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There are now more legal cannabis professionals than hairstylists, barbers, and cosmetologists combined. A mature legal cannabis market could employ well over 1.5 million people in the United States alone in the years to come. 

These are two of the key findings of the 2022 Leafly jobs report, which paints a vivid picture of an industry that is expanding and creating jobs at a truly astounding rate.

The report found 428,059 full-time equivalent jobs in cannabis, which doesn’t include workers from the hemp industry. 

According to Leafly, these jobs include “direct cannabis jobs like cultivation and retail sales—what are often called “plant-touching jobs”—and indirect ancillary jobs that serve licensed companies or depend on legal cannabis sales.”

These indirect jobs include a wide range of positions as varied as accounting, human resources, legal affairs, regulatory compliance, security, maintenance, and construction, according to Leafly

In other words, an extensive range of jobs are available in the industry today. And for marijuana professionals and people looking to join the industry, a quick salary comparison may be in order. 

What are the best-paying jobs in cannabis?

According to the 2022 Cannabis Industry Salary Guide from Cannabiz Team, the 10 cannabis jobs with the highest median salaries are: 

  1. Chief Financial Officer: $363,500 
  2. Chief Operations Officer: $282,050  
  3. VP of technology: $245,650  
  4. VP of cultivation: $237,500  
  5. Chief Scientific Officer: $235,000  
  6. Chief Revenue Officer $222,000  
  7. VP of Retail: $215,790  
  8. VP of Operations: $213,200  
  9. Chief Marketing Officer: $208,750  
  10. General Counsel: $203,200 

The report found that the five jobs with the highest increase in median salary were all senior or executive positions. These include Chief Marketing Officer (10% increase), VP of Product Development (10%), Chief Revenue Officer (9%), Chief Scientific Officer (9%), and VP of Cultivation (8%). 

In contrast, the report found a much lower median salary increase for several entry-level positions. These include jobs like trimmer (3% increase), extraction technician (3%), and driver (3%), among others. 

Overall, the study found that industry salaries rose by 4% in 2021, but for senior executives, there was an average increase of 10%. 

The report's authors also predict that 100,000 new cannabis jobs will be added in 2022. And it may be possible to predict where many of these jobs will be. 

According to the report, “with rising consumer demand for edibles, cannabis beverages, and topicals, companies have substantially increased hiring of extraction, manufacturing, and testing talent.”

Which cannabis sector pays the most?

According to the study, testing is the cannabis sector with the highest median salary at $133,873, followed by manufacturing at $129,678. The lowest sectors were distribution and extraction at $80,187 and $89,125. 

These figures change dramatically after adjusting for the highest-paid position. Take, for instance, accounting and finance. The average median salary is $131,922, but after removing the CFO position (median salary of $363,500), the median drops to $102,975. 

The report also states that multi-state operators have increased their compensation packages to draw talent for high-demand positions. 

The CannaBiz Team report differs from some other assessments. For instance, HempStaff called the sales and marketing sector “the highest paying and most sought-after job in the cannabis industry!” The article added that they see candidates making $250,000 - $300,000, including commission. 

The company's methodology is based on “proprietary salary data, salary surveys, and independent research from trusted sources.”

Cannabis companies offer improved benefits packages

According to the 2021 Cannabis Industry Salary Guide compiled by the cannabis jobs site Vangst, companies are attracting talent by offering benefits equal to or better than those in other industries. This includes paid time off (72% of companies), medical insurance (71%), and remote work (46.2%), among others. 

The Vangst report was compiled from survey results sent by over 1,000 cannabis industry professionals. The report found that the top 5 most high-paying jobs had the following salary ranges:

  • VP of manufacturing (between $140,000 - $185,000) 
  • VP of Retail (between $120,000 - $200,000)
  • Director of cultivation (between $85,000 - $160,000)
  • Director of extraction (between $80,000 - $160,000) 
  • Compliance manager (between $60,000 - $115,000)

The importance of temporary workers in cannabis  

The Cannabiz Team and Vangst reports highlight the importance of temporary staff for cannabis businesses. 

According to Cannabiz Team, “companies in medical and adult-use markets are increasingly turning to temporary or "on-demand" workers to fill short-term and mid-term needs in cultivation, extraction, manufacturing, distribution, and retail.” 

Vangst wrote that temporary staff “will become mission-critical” for cannabis businesses looking to save millions and avoid overstaffing. 

Vangst also estimated that around 50,000 temporary cannabis jobs would be available in 2022. Vangst added that as companies “better understand their staffing needs, they will better leverage temporary employees.”

What to do when you're ready for a career in cannabis

As legalization spreads, more and more people are looking to start their next chapter in cannabis. In addition, since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, the so-called “Great Resignation” has seen countless professionals resign from their jobs. Many of these people have sought careers they’re more passionate about, including cannabis. 

If you’re looking to enter the cannabis industry, there are several steps you can take. 

You can determine what interests you and how your skills apply to cannabis. You can also reach out to people in your professional or personal network who work in cannabis and ask them for advice or about job openings. 

Luckily, in the era of remote work, you can still find a cannabis career even if your state hasn’t legalized marijuana. Also, people without experience can see that all types of prior job experience apply to the industry. 

But entering the cannabis industry can also involve a shift in your mindset. It means dropping any preconceptions about the industry or cannabis professionals. 

In addition, it is wise to take the time to boost your cannabis knowledge. You can follow industry thought leaders on LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook and attend industry events and webinars. 

You can also avail yourself of a wide range of content on the cannabis job market on the Rootwurks blog

The marijuana job market is booming, and opportunities are rife - even if you aren’t applying for one of the highest-paying jobs.

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Ben Hartman, Content Manager

Ben Hartman is a cannabis writing and marketing professional with over 15 years of experience in journalism and digital content creation. Ben was formerly the senior writer and research and analysis lead for The Cannigma.

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