Vangst Releases First Ever Industry Salary & Jobs Guide

For anyone in the cannabis industry, the report findings were positive

“As a general rule, new cannabis businesses should create their budget to accommodate industry standard compensation,” says Karson Humiston, CEO of Vangst to Marijuana Retail Report. The company just came out with the cannabis industry’s first comprehensive salary and jobs guide for the cannabis industry last week.

For anyone in the cannabis industry, the report findings were positive, showing nothing but growth in both jobs and salaries in the cannabis industry nationwide. Average salaries across the board in cannabis jobs increased 16.1% between 2017 and 2018.

Between January 1, 2017 and August 1, 2018, there was a 690% growth in cannabis-related job listings on the company’s employment platform that regards itself as the “ for weed jobs.” The company projects a 220% growth in cannabis industry jobs by 2019.


A Look into Salaries of Common Cannabis Retail Jobs

Vangst surveyed 1,200+ cannabis companies about the salaries that they are paying common roles within the cannabis industry. They obtained the low, average, high, and top salaries for 7 positions within the cannabis industry. Here is a summary of the salary surveys:

Role Low Salary Average Salary High Salary Top Salary
Director of Extraction $47,000 $72,000 $153,000 $191,000
Director of Cultivation $47,000 $88,000 $140,000 $250,500
Compliance Manager $45,000 $62,000 $81,750 $149,000
Dispensary Store Manager $41,500 $56,250 $65,400 $98,000
Outside Sales Representative $28,000 $58,800 $73,500 $150,00
Budtender $12/hr $13.35/hr $14/hr $16/hr
Trimmer $11.50/hr $12.25/hr $13/hr $14.50/hr


What does this mean for industry professionals who are deciding on their pay structures for their employees? “Cannabis businesses who pay on or above industry standard are likely going to be able to retain the best talent,” says Humiston, “Simply because they can afford to keep them and meet salary demands.”



Retaining the Best Talent

For some cannabis businesses, these salaries may be overwhelming, and increasing the budget line on labor isn’t always possible. “There are opportunities for new businesses to provide other forms of compensation, such as equity.”

Cannabis businesses that are publicly traded (of which there are few) can offer shares to their employees in the form of stock grants, restricted stock grants, or phantom equity plans when a holder will get a lump sum payout when the stock reaches a certain valuation.

Limited Liability Corporations (LLC), which are a lot more common in the cannabis industry, are able to offer employees equity in the form of membership interests. These interests can be built on either capital equity or profit equity.

Other ways to retain talent include employee incentive programs, training and development, participation in conferences and events, and offering a full health and benefits package.


Using Salaries as a Bargaining Chip

“Cannabis industry professionals now have access to salary information that has never been available before,” says Humiston, “Candidates now know their value in the market and will be able to use it to their advantage in the chance a potential employer is trying to lowball them.”

Indeed, these salary data can be useful in salary negotiations. Those taking new positions within the cannabis industry but aren’t too familiar with salary structures now have a place to start. A candidate should take into account his or her formal education, industry experience, skills and competencies, and the size of the organization when going into salary negotiations.



What Will Organizations Pay for?

The question about professionalism has been a hot topic in the industry as of late, as more attention is given to formal education within the cannabis industry.

Private colleges that offer courses that range from a few hours a few days include Green CultureED, Oaksterdam University, Cannabis Training Institute, and The Trichome Institute among many others that employers see as adding value to candidates. A traditional degree is becoming of more and more value in the cannabis industry as more executives level up their education credentials.

Take The Giving Tree, a Denver cultivation site, as an example of a company who is recruiting top talent from educational institutions. “For cultivation, I look for students with a degree related to agriculture. For extraction, I will look for someone with a chemistry or biology degree and background. For inventory, I look for MBA and supply management degrees and so on,” says Lilach Mazor Power, CEO, and co-founder of The Giving Tree when talking to Forbes


Areas for Improvement

Diversity, or lack there of, has been an issue in the cannabis industry for too long that needs fixing while the industry is still young. The industry is falling into a trap where races and minorities are under-represented, and women leadership in cannabis businesses is falling.

While paying above industry standard will ensure you retain the best employees, companies should up the ante in their proactive diversity hiring strategies.

“Given the industry is so young, current businesses and influencers in the space have the opportunity to build the cannabis industry into the most inclusive industry in the world,” says Humiston to Green Market Report upon the salary and jobs guide release, “Cannabis businesses need to build diversity recruiting programs and prioritize building highly diverse companies from the start. While we are seeing many companies do this well, there is room for improvement.”


By 2021, BDS predicts that almost 100,000 Californians will be employed in the cannabis industry, and we can expect to see national employment trends for cannabis creep up significantly. This calls for hiring strategies that not only honor equitable wages, but equitable cannabis structures that truly reflect the population of our states.


A Powerful Future in Cannabis

Vangst’s report offers a bright future for cannabis that shows us that growth will only be continuous with 30 states legalizing medical cannabis, and 9 permitting recreational sales. As more jobs become available in the cannabis industry, we will expect to see more platforms like Vangst to crop up supporting cannabis-specific jobs.

Vangst’s full report can be found at:


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