Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.
Cannabis isn’t just an expanding industry, it’s also very popular among job seekers. While the U.S. experienced an economic downturn in 2019, cannabis added more than 30,000 full-time jobs. While the so-called Great Resignation has led to many people leaving their jobs to seek a better position, many are turning to the cannabis industry to find their dream job.
For good reason. The industry is new, exciting, and growing at a tremendous rate. Plus, cannabis pays roughly 2 percent more than the nation’s median salary, reaching up to 47 percent higher depending on the location. Many manager or director-level roles dole out six figures with the more technical jobs not far behind, and salaries for every type of role are increasing annually.
The transition to cannabis from other industries is also easier, given that you can apply the skills people you’ve gained in a traditionally mainstream sector to cannabis. There is a need for workers across various disciplines, including developers and programmers, delivery drivers, agriculture and cultivation experts, marketing specialists, and even scientists.
But how do you find your way into cannabis from square one? You can start by attending online and in-person industry conferences to learn about the business and meet key players.
A few years ago, I co-founded the National Cannabis Industry Association to bring people together to advance and better our space. Our conferences are meant to increase participation and encourage attendees to make new connections and deepen professional relationships. For those curious about open positions and opportunities, I promise you attending cannabis industry events and conferences is the most effective first step to joining our community.
Related: 10 Best LinkedIn Cannabis Groups for Networking in the Weed Industry
Networking on the expo floor
To job seekers, the exhibition floor is a sea of opportunity. Every few steps, you encounter another company to learn about and another group of professionals eager to share their stories. The emerging businesses and sectors within the industry showcase their personalities and missions on the expo floor. It’s where to meet the movers and shakers of our space.
And landing a fun, well-paying job is more about who you know than anything else. Around 85 percent of jobs are filled via networking, while 70 percent of open roles never even make it into the public forum. It is undoubtedly the most critical piece in the job hunt, opening doors to opportunities that may have never presented themselves otherwise.
There are many reasons why building relationships with industry professionals is critical for those looking to join the cannabis community. You do more than obtain references through your network—you absorb knowledge. You learn what types of jobs are out there and what may or may not fit your skillset and interests. They help you stay abreast of industry shifts and trends, significant issues or debates on the table at that time, and innovations and ground-breaking brands.
The expo floor is where to meet new people and build a network of relationships within the cannabis space. Don’t be a wallflower. Strike up conversations, ask questions and put yourself out there. Everyone here is more than happy to talk about this space and offer support or references for more information. One of them may be the key to your dream job in cannabis.
Wisdom from industry insiders
Cannabis conferences also provide a complete educational experience. It’s a competitive space, making it easier for employers than for job seekers. Attending an educational event gives you an advantage over other applicants by exposing you to the inner workings of every sector of the space. Hear from true industry veterans and insiders on the most recent regulatory issues, technical advancements, business best practices, and more.
When you’re sitting at a job interview, you want to be able to showcase just how excited you are to enter the cannabis industry and let your passion shine. It’s impressive to show that you’ve made an effort to learn about the industry by attending an event and doing research on your own time. Holding a background in cannabis isn’t required in a vast majority of roles, so a jumpstart on your education is attractive to prospective employers.
Read through conference agendas and take note of the topics that pique your interest. The basic informational sessions are helpful, laying the groundwork for industry processes and regulations. It can be a lot to absorb, but even having a beginner’s knowledge can help win you the interview.
An industry event is like hundreds of mini textbooks specifically focused on cannabis all in one building. They are essential for job seekers intrigued about working in cannabis but who may not know where to start.