Cannabis report in U.S. shows demand for top talent driving up executives’ salaries

Study says shortage of qualified workers behind pay spike for industry’s high-level employees
Written by 
Chris Kudialis, CBD and Cannabis Reporter.
|Last Updated:

Tallying more than 320,000 full-time cannabis jobs in 2021, legal adult-use in 17 states and medical marijuana in 36 states, the U.S. industry continues to flourish as operators keep their fingers crossed that the plant soon becomes legal nationwide.

Yet despite the industry’s massive growth, a newly released report from California-based staffing firm CannabizTeam found that companies still have plenty of demand for more workers, especially white-collar employees.

The report compared 50,000 salaries of cannabis professionals in every marijuana-legal state, from the second quarter of 2021 with previous quarters dating back to the beginning of 2020. It found that each of the 46 different types of recognized legal cannabis jobs saw year-on-year rises for the median salaries, ranging from 4 to 11 percent.

“The cannabis industry proved its strength and resiliency in 2020 and enters 2021 as the fastest-growing industry in the United States,” Liesl Bernard, CEO of CannabizTeam, said in a statement. “With so much hiring, growth and investment activity, we’re seeing a red-hot cannabis job market.

Some of the most desired jobs in the marijuana were in leadership roles. Director positions for distribution and cultivation were specifically high in demand, as were vice presidents of product development, human resources and retail. Companies awarded the highest year-on-year salary increases – from 10 to 11 percent – to CFOs, CEOs, COOs, staff accountants and VPs of marketing, product development and cultivation.

Comparatively speaking, salaries for budtenders, sales reps and delivery managers rose only 4 to 5 percent. Budtenders had the lowest median salaries of the 46 listed cannabis professions ($39,250), while CEOs had the highest median salaries ($350,300).

Bernard noted that salaries for each position varied by location, company size, and employees’ previous experience.

California topped the list of all states with about 58,000 total cannabis jobs and gross sales totaling $3.8 billion. It was followed by Colorado, Florida, Arizona and Washington, all of which had over 20,000 industry employees and over $1 billion in sales.

CannabizTeam partnered with financial media outlet Benzinga to find where cannabis companies were finding new talent to fill upper-level vacancies. The report discovered many hired away experts in the food and beverage industries. Other popular areas for talent included the pharmaceutical field as well as the agriculture, medical supply, consumer packaged goods, technology, and retail sectors.


Chris Kudialis
Chris Kudialis
CBD and Cannabis Reporter
Chris Kudialis is the mainstream media’s authority on marijuana and CBD news coverage in Las Vegas. Chris began covering the beat as a reporter with the Las Vegas Review-Journal in 2015, when cannabis had been medical-only for almost two years and the first dispensaries were just opening.

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