It’s rare for an entirely new multibillion-dollar industry to appear almost overnight. However, when Canada legalizes recreational marijuana on Oct. 17, the cannabis industry, which the Financial Post estimates is worth $31 billion and growing, will suddenly become legal and mainstream.
With such a large and rapidly expanding industry comes a huge demand for workers. From farmhands to production managers, browse any job board and you’re likely to come across dozens, if not hundreds, of cannabis-related postings.
According to the Hamilton Spectator, on the job site Indeed, cannabis jobs make up 25 out of every 10,000 new job postings, which is a threefold increase from one year ago.
There’s definitely plenty of interest in these new marijuana jobs. The Spectator also found that cannabis-related job searches had increased fourfold between July 2017 and July 2018. Clearly, many people want in on this exciting new industry, but they may be wondering how to find a cannabis job or whether they have the right skillset for the industry.
The Cannabis Industry Needs Diverse Skills
Let’s break down what skills the cannabis industry is actually looking for these days. While a job in marijuana may invoke images of little more than bud trimmers—and, indeed, bud trimmers are in demand—the cannabis industry needs an extremely diverse range of skills. Many of these skills may not appear, at least at first, to have much to do with cannabis.
From production to processing to sales, the cannabis industry is just like any other business in many respect. So, somebody could easily take skills from an entirely unrelated industry and use them to get a job in cannabis.
Nurses, for example, are one of the most sought-after candidates in the industry, largely in connection with the medical marijuana side of the business.
Cannabis research and science are creating big demand for chemists and researchers.
And, just like any other retailer, cannabis companies need to draw customers in, which means that marijuana advertising and marketing jobs are booming.
Executive assistants are also in high demand as many licensed producers (LPs) have quickly become major public companies.
These large companies are also looking for:
- Computer programmers
- Administrative staff
- Web developers
Such corporate positions tend to be most popular in areas where cannabis companies are headquartered, such as Toronto or Vancouver.
Rural & Hard-Hit Areas Benefiting From Cannabis
But cannabis-related job growth isn’t limited entirely to Canada’s main economic centres. Particularly when it comes to production and manufacturing, less populated provinces have seen cannabis as a huge opportunity to create well-paying jobs for their residents and revitalize towns that have fallen on hard economic times.
New Brunswick, for example, has been aggressively marketing itself as an ideal business environment for cannabis companies to operate in. The provincial government projects that the new industry will bring 3,000 jobs to New Brunswick in the next four years. That’s a lot of work for a small province where the unemployment rate has typically exceeded the national average.
Meanwhile in Saskatchewan, it’s thought that the legal marijuana market will create more than 700 cannabis jobs. Many of these positions will be permanent and stable. This is especially important given the Saskatchewan job market is particularly susceptible to the volatile oil and potash industries.
So How Do I Find a Cannabis Job?
The popular job boards, like Indeed, LinkedIn, Glassdoor and Monster, are all great places to start if you want to land a job in the cannabis industry. But don’t limit yourself to just the usual suspects.
Job boards that cater specifically to the marijuana industry, such as The Marijuana Job Board, may offer more specific opportunities that wouldn’t otherwise be available on the generic job sites.
You may also want to consider a staffing agency, especially for seasonal jobs like those for farmhands that don’t always get advertised on the most popular jobs sites. A staffing agency that specializes in the cannabis industry will be your best bet as they’ll have pre-existing relationships with the big cannabis companies and growers.
Failing these options, you can always try reaching out directly to a cannabis company and ask if they’re hiring. Given the rapid growth of the industry, there’s a good chance that they’ll respond positively.
Something that sets the marijuana industry apart from others is that personal connections can be key. So, don’t be afraid to make contact directly or introduce yourself to a potential employer at a cannabis event, educational talk or conference.
What Counts as Marijuana Experience?
One aspect of job hunting in the cannabis industry that makes a lot of people nervous is whether they’ll have enough experience to qualify for a position. Just remember that experience is a very relative concept in an industry that, aside from medical marijuana, hasn’t even become legal yet.
This means that many cannabis companies simply can’t find candidates with 10 or 20 years of experience in the industry, because such candidates, almost by definition, don’t exist. These companies know that when they look for experienced candidates, they have to be flexible about what they mean by experience. The fact that so few people can claim to have extensive cannabis industry experience largely levels the playing field for all job applicants.
And in a level playing field, the same rules apply to cannabis job hunting as any other industry, and your attention to detail will set you apart. Remember:
- Act professional
- Be on time
- Make sure your resume and cover letter are error-free and on topic
The cannabis industry is facing a massive labor shortage—especially for skilled workers—and is expected to add 150,000 new jobs over the coming years. So if you can think creatively and show how the skills you acquired in one industry are transferrable to the cannabis industry, then you shouldn’t have too much trouble finding a job in this new and exciting field.
Photo credit: bruce mars