Written by Features Writer Jeff Kingman
Cannabis in Canada is growing, in several senses of the word. The Canadian weed industry, fully legal for adult use since this October, is expected to swell up to contain 150,000 jobs and generate $5 billion in sales in 2019. Toronto has emerged as an early epicenter of hiring firms, and proximity is transforming Ontario’s small towns too. Some big players are openly fretting that Canadian companies could build an insurmountable advantage in the industry, while U.S. companies are stuck in regional limbo. It’s a dreamy environment for skilled workers, not likely to be replicated soon.
For those considering a new career in kush, here are five job categories continuing to boom up North.
Weed cultivation, moved from illegal shadows to the high-tech LED light, is the biggest point of industry need. Cannabis can be a fussy crop, and even previous experience growing the finest hydroponic corn in Ottawa might not transfer over directly. Universities across the country have launched cannabis-focused agricultural courses to bridge that gap, but it’ll take time for new graduates to fully meet the current demand. It’ll help that estimates show pay grades for jobs in cultivation have the highest ceiling in the industry, topping six figures at upper management levels.
Quality assurance is a tricky and difficult to fill specialization in Canadian weed production. An effective QA worker needs to be comfortable with technical horticultural principals and interacting with growers. They also need to navigate the exacting regulatory standards of the Canadian government and the voluminous paperwork that comes along with them. As with a lot of cannabis-related specialties, this is new territory at so large a scale, so folks who’ve worked in inspection positions in other agricultural or food manufacturing fields might have a leg up to slide over to the many jobs currently available.
With retail workers are manning the front lines of the Canadian cannabis rollout, budtenders and store managers are very much in demand too. (Job listings in retail outnumbered all other cannabis-related fields in the first weeks of the country’s recreational market.) Canada allows for online sales and above board mail delivery, which is an interesting wrinkle that’s so far been absent from any U.S. market. Will in-person sales dip as novelty fades and consumer behaviors adapt? Maybe! For now and in the near future, the dispensary counter is a steady gig.
That ability to make sales online also has a big impact on demand for coders and programmers who can build out e-commerce portals and user friendly websites needed to smooth out the process. High-tech jobs are a need in other corners of the weed industry, too. Processes including seed-to-sale tracking, filling prescriptions, and government compliance are going to be increasingly automated. App developers will seek to idiot-proof the home-grow market. As customer and patient information continues to accumulate over time, analysts applying Big Data will swoop in to make sense of it all.
It’s still as much art as it is science to understand consumer behaviors in a brand-new space, though. Business school savants who are also versed in the particulars of cannabis are of vital need right now, when many companies are vying to differentiate themselves in a market where name brand dominance is still being decided on a national scale. Expertise in newer digital skills like Search Engine Optimization might be particularly useful in cannabiz, given the stricter-than-average advertising restrictions pot products face in Canada versus other industries.
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