So You Think You Want to Work in Cannabis...

Jonathan Rose / Jun 22, 2022
hero-graphic-So You Think You Want to Work in Cannabis...
Photo Credit: Cova Software via Unsplash

...but you're not sure you have the skills. Here's why you're probably more ready than you think.

It's a sentiment we hear frequently at Vangst: "I want to break into the cannabis industry, but I'm not sure I have the skills or experience."

Fret not! A cannabis business, while treated wildly different than many other industries when it comes to laws and compliance regulations, is still a business when it comes down to it. And business fundamentals are business fundamentals.

There are plenty of jobs for workers looking to make a lateral move from an industry like tech, healthcare, or manufacturing. Plant-touching cannabis companies and the ancillary businesses that serve them have HR departments, IT teams, and customer service reps just like the traditional players. They even have C-suites.

But what about entry-level work? Well, there's plenty of that too, in a wide range of positions. Let's explore some of the options a high school or recent college graduate has in the cannabis industry, starting with some you've definitely heard of--and a few that might surprise you.

And don't forget the fundamentals: Network, research, and stay up-to-date on the industry.

And if, after checking out some of these positions, you think you're ready, join our network where you can search and apply for jobs. You can also touch base with one of our knowledgeable and helpful recruiters while you're there.


This is probably the position the cannabis-industry layperson is most familiar with--the budtender is the first face you see once you get past security and check in, and they're often the friendliest. Budtenders help retail customers or medical patients in their shopping. Just like mainstream retail, this position is often referred to as "sales associate." It's typically an hourly position with shared tips.

All customer service and retail experience provides transferable skills for the budtender position. But you better brush up on your strains, terpenes, and cannabinoids if you want to get past the interview process.

Cultivation Technician

Cultivation technicians are behind the scenes--but they're critical to every cannabis business. They're the folks hand-trimming the sticky buds we in the industry often call "flower." The position requires attention to detail and focus as cannabis retail outlets and their customers expect those buds to look beautiful on the shelf. There are machines that will do this, but hand-trimmed buds are prized among enthusiasts.

This is an entry-level position that requires long, uninterrupted periods of physical labor.


The packager may work for any variety of cannabis verticals. These primarily hourly positions are focused on accurately packaging cannabis products from flower to edibles and concentrates into predetermined weights or amounts.

This is an entry-level position that requires long, uninterrupted periods of physical labor.

Edibles Specialist

The edibles specialist oversees the kitchen where cannabis-infused products are manufactured and maintains high standards for product development, portioning/dosing, formulation, finished product, and cleanliness. They often manage a production team.

This could be the perfect job for an experienced restaurant or bakery kitchen manager, or college graduate with a culinary arts-type degree.

AP Specialist

An accounts payable specialist is responsible for regular financial transactions including accounts payable, corporate credit card reconciliations, and various other transactional issues.

An AP specialist role typically requires about a year of experience (college may be an acceptable substitute) and knowledge of software like the Microsoft Office Suite, especially Excel; Oracle; Quickbooks; Freshbooks; or Xero. The position is sometimes salaried.

Marketing Associate

Marketing associates partner with leaders in the organization and assist in company marketing needs, from social media to creating advertising materials, collecting data, performing market research, and client communications.

The marketing associate role is most often salaried, and usually requires some experience or a college degree. A deep understanding of all mainstream social media platforms is a must, as is experience using design software like the Adobe Creative Suite and Canva.

Sales Representative

The sales representative is nearly identical in cannabis as in every other field. The major difference is the product you're selling--and you should know that product like the back of your hand. A sales representative focuses on selling a company’s suite of products or services and is a brand ambassador. They may visit retail stores, pitch suppliers, and/or chat people up at a trade show.

A sales representative can be an hourly or salaried position, but much of their total income is often commission-based.

HR Coordinator

Human resources coordinators support the overall human resources department and ensure that policies are followed throughout the company. This may mean addressing and elevating employee complaints or conflicts. It is focused on most employment-related matters like pay, benefits, and promotions.

Human resources coordinators can be paid hourly or salaried. The position typically requires a high school diploma or GED, strong communications skills, proficiency in the Microsoft Office Suite, and some sort of training or experience in HR or a similar field like payroll.

These positions are relatively frictionless entry points for newcomers to the cannabis industry, provided they have the experience and skills required.

  • Jar of a cannabis product called Releaf Balm
  • Person using cannabis lotion on their hands
  • Person reaching over couch to use cannabis oil product
  • Person picking cannabis flower out of a jar
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Proud to Work in Cannabis

Listen to Vangst’s signature podcast.

Each week, Vangst Founder and CEO Karson Humiston talks to the founders, executives, thought leaders and change-makers who are building a brand new industry. Get executive-level insights, and find out why they’re Proud to Work in Cannabis.

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Why Vangst?

Cannabis companies were having a hard time finding the talent they needed — and talent wasn’t sure where to look.

Vangst Founder and CEO Karson Humiston noticed a glaring need in the cannabis industry to connect the right talent to the right cannabis jobs. In 2016, she built the tech platform to make that happen, and the rest is history.

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