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When you look at the state-by-state barriers to cannabis that have fallen recently or will soon fall, it is easy to understand why the cannabis industry is growing so markedly in the United States. And as even more states move to fully legalize or decriminalize the plant, more career opportunities are becoming available in an array of disciplines and business settings. 


But, like other fast-moving and emergent industries, the cannabis industry is a highly competitive one at practically all levels. If you want a role in this industry, you’ll need to set yourself apart from an ever-growing collection of candidates who are attracted to this industry for reasons ranging from economic to social, political to cultural. It might seem like a formidable undertaking at first, but you’ll quickly find it’s essential if you want to land that dream job in what so many view as a dream industry. Toward that end, here are three things you should consider if you want to make the cannabis industry your vocation, no matter if you approach it from retail or logistics, cultivation or accounting.


Build your knowledge

Obtaining a job in cannabis will prove challenging if you are not knowledgeable about the industry. And that goes across the board for practically all roles. Remember, this isn’t a longtime industry with a set of common expectations. That means you’ll need to be familiar with cannabis laws that change from state to state and market to market; usage effects that vary among age groups and cannabis experience levels; benefits both medical and recreational; strains/cultivars seemingly growing in number seasonally; and the pros and cons of myriad cultivation factors and how they can affect users.


Depending on the role you want in the industry, you may need to be more knowledgeable in certain specialized areas compared to others. For example, if you’re working as a budtender, it’s a given that you’ll need detailed knowledge about the various cannabis cultivars and their side effects and uses. And you’ll have to be able to communicate this to consumers. On the other hand, if you’re looking to spend your workday hours as a much sought-after compliance manager, you’ll need comprehensive knowledge of cannabis laws and regulations in the market(s) in which you want to operate, and you’ll also need an understanding of the growing number of tech applications and platforms being used for compliance in different states.


Professional cannabis groups on LinkedIn are an excellent place to start if you’re interested in broadening your knowledge about the cannabis industry.


Sharpen your interpersonal skills 

This is a people-centric industry. Jobs in the cannabis industry will require you to interact with other people daily. And it won’t be just your co-workers down the hall. If you’re in cultivation, chances are you’re interacting with compliance and logistics. If you’re on the retail side of things in this business, you’ll also be required to understand a great deal about supply-chain dynamics and work with these professionals, too. And note that this industry can be unlike most others in how large parts of it value the benefits of remote work, and that expands the circle of your interactions, even if they are digital. Without a doubt, you will need good people skills to communicate your vision – and your value – to this expanding industry.


Take cannabis sales, for example. It is an attractive entry point for many in the industry today. But as attractive as the profits might be, don’t forget that you’ll need to visit numerous stores, interacting with store managers to get your company’s products on store shelves. And as much as these retailers might appreciate the value and appeal of your product, their shelf space comes with a high premium – if it comes at all. Without excellent people skills, you’ll struggle to sell your company’s product to both retailers and consumers.


No matter the role you want to take on in this industry, it pays big to enhance your interpersonal skills in small and big ways. Not only will this skill help you to get more job offers, but once you land a role, it will help you perform more effectively.


Expand your network

Despite the way it has grown, the legal cannabis industry is still relatively new. That often means many small business owners are open to embracing newcomers and showing them the ropes.


Any time you can, seize this opportunity to learn from seasoned professionals in the industry. One of the most immediate ways of accomplishing this is by joining cannabis groups on LinkedIn and other platforms. You’ll find multiple groups are available, focusing on different aspects of cannabis. Additionally, industry events can be a great place to meet different kinds of professionals in the industry. And doing so in person is, even in this age of pandemic, still the best way to make the best impression.


The relationships you build online and offline will help you land a job in the industry, and they may even propel you toward unexpected career paths in the future. That’s certainly been the case with so many entrepreneurs and company founders during the industry’s first wave of multimillion dollar success stories.


Land a Job in the Cannabis Industry

The best advice for entering this industry is really the same as it is in many other market segments: ID your unique skill sets and apply them relentlessly and with passion. The legal cannabis industry is a fast-growing one that needs skilled and passionate people to lead it into what could be phenomenal market growth in just a short five-year period. But unless you stand out as someone who has the potential to be that leader, you could find it more challenging to fully participate in this industry on your terms.