How to Break Into the Cannabis Industry

Mike King / Jul 14, 2021
hero-graphic-How to Break Into the Cannabis Industry

Cannabis is growing. Here’s how you can break in.

Every year, the cannabis industry continues to grow with more opportunities, more positions, and more potential than ever before. With that comes the need for talent from all kinds of places, including the mainstream workforce. After all, people are changing their careers now more than ever and cannabis speaks to those who value innovation, inclusivity, and discovering a newfound passion for what they do. Here’s your guide for how to break into this growing and exciting industry.

man smiling w/ paper and pen

I’m ready to make the leap into cannabis. What are your top tips for breaking in?

  • #1: Start by doing your research.

In the cannabis industry, knowledge is often just as important as experience. Learning everything you can about the industry will put you a few steps ahead of others. For instance, employers appreciate when you understand the specific rules and regulations for working in the industry and our Requirements By State Tool makes it easy to get those details in one place. We also recommend spending time getting familiar with common cannabis terms in our Glossary Guide. And it’s always a good idea to research the brands, growers, labs, and dispensaries you want to work for. Time spent learning about the industry you want to work in pays dividends when it comes time to actually working in it.

  • #2: Networking matters.

⁠Like most industries, networking in cannabis is key for breaking into it. And while the cannabis industry may appear as an exclusive members-only club, you’ll quickly learn there are a lot of people in your shoes, often more than you realize! Our Getting Started In Cannabis Forum is the perfect place to ask questions and get familiar with some basics around the industry. Also be sure to check out our events calendar to meet industry professionals, network and learn more about opportunities in your neck of the woods.

  • #3: Don’t let a lack of experience define you.

If you want a career in cannabis but lack industry experience, it’s easy to lose a bit of confidence. But companies aren’t just looking for experience, they’re looking for passion and drive. Remember, the legal adult-use cannabis industry is less than a decade old, meaning the majority of today’s leading cannabis professionals also made a big career shift. As you network and apply for jobs, remember to sell what you know and focus on what you can bring to the table. Show your employer what they’re missing by not hiring you, not what you’re missing by being new to the industry.

  • #4: Keep current with the latest insights and news.

Staying up-to-date on the latest cannabis insights, trends, and happenings is important whether you’re a first-timer or industry veteran. There are all kinds of ways to stay sharp on what’s new and what’s next in cannabis, starting by signing up for our newsletter (peep our footer 👀) and following the Vangst Blog to learn more about industry news, opportunities, career-building tips, and more.

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Do I need to be a consumer to work in the industry?

Contrary to popular belief, there are a lot of non-cannabis users in the industry today. Likely more than you think! Simply put, cannabis consumption is not a prerequisite to working in cannabis. While many in the cannabis industry have a personal affinity for the benefits of the plant, not everyone does. As with any profession, it’s important to believe in what you’re selling and to understand the product or service inside and out. But remember that being authentic in your passion for the product doesn’t mean you have to have direct experience with it. Pros in pharmaceuticals, medical services, and luxury products demonstrate this every day.

I have a lot of previous work experience. What kinds of skills does the cannabis industry look for?

If you’re lacking cannabis experience, you’re not alone. But there’s a good chance you have experience in areas the cannabis industry appreciates and has a need for. In fact, there are all kinds of relevant workforce skills that translate well to the cannabis industry. Here are our top 6 transferable skills for cannabis:

  • Experience working within a regulated industry: Cannabis is highly regulated and even if you don’t have experience in the industry, experience in a regulated industry, such as alcohol or pharmaceuticals, goes a long way for your job prospects.
  • Start-up experience: Between the tight budgets, fast-paced environments, and need to wear many different hats in a given day, start-ups are a lot like cannabis. Be sure to include that experience in your resume.
  • Sales skills and experience: If you love the thrill of the sale, then there’s probably a place for you in the cannabis industry. All cannabis companies that have sellable products are looking for reliable salespeople. You could be next.
  • The ability to self-teach: One of the most successful ways to get a handle on the cannabis industry is simply the willingness to learn and ask questions. If you’re this type of person, don’t be shy about it on your resume or during your interview.
  • Cost accounting expertise: If you’ve got accounting experience, cannabis businesses will be interested. Lean into your past experiences, certifications, and your ability to keep solid books amidst an industry full of changes and pivots.
  • Digital marketing, web development and IT skills: Like most industries today, digital skills are essential. Cannabis companies of all sizes are looking for people who are knowledgeable and passionate about digital marketing, development, social media, and more.

So where do I go from here?

The cannabis industry needs talent now more than ever and the absolute best way to get your foot in the door is to start applying for jobs. Make sure your resume is cannabis-ready, then take the next step by signing up and creating your Vangst profile. Spend some time browsing available jobs in your area and start applying. And if you have any questions along the way, always feel free to reach out and ask us anything. And when we say anything, we mean anything. There are no dumb questions when it comes to crossing over into cannabis and we couldn’t be happier to answer them to help you get started on your cannabis career journey.

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