quality control in the lab, Biologists in the Cannabis Industry

STEM Graduates in High Demand for Cannabis Industry Jobs

by | Jul 10, 2019

quality control in the lab, Biologists in the Cannabis Industry

Written by Amanda Luketa

The cannabis industry is rapidly growing, with more opportunities than ever for new and exciting careers. Discover the most in-demand cannabis industry jobs specifically for STEM graduates.

As of May 2019, the legal cannabis industry has created 211,000 full-time jobs – with no signs of slowing down. This is confirmed by a recent industry report from New Frontier Data, which projects the industry will have created more jobs than the manufacturing sector by 2020.

This is great news, too, as a December 2018 report by Glassdoor shows that cannabis industry jobs pay on average 11% more than the U.S. median salary.

Also, due to the need for cutting-edge technological innovation, more and more cannabis industry jobs are now related to STEM fields. This means new and exciting industry opportunities for women in tech, millennials with a range of backgrounds, and those completely new to the industry.  

|STEM careers in the cannabis industry|

Many professional cannabis industry jobs exist that are targeted specifically to STEM fields. Jobs in high demand range from engineering in the cannabis industry, to software developers and plant biologists. Take a look at eight of the most sought-after cannabis careers, below. 

Automation & Controls Engineer

Automation & Controls engineers are responsible for developing sophisticated monitoring and controls systems for indoor and outdoor cannabis grows. This can include integrating all essential equipment—such as lights, air conditioners, dehumidifiers, and fans—into one central dashboard, easily controllable via any smart device.

Typical annual salary range: $69k – $110k

Median salary: $86,588 / year

HVAC Engineer

Most commonly requiring a background in mechanical engineering, HVAC engineers are responsible for designing and testing cooling and dehumidification equipment, as well as creating equipment layouts and plans for cultivation facilities. For positions requiring facility design, EIT certification is a must although PE certification is preferred. There are many opportunities for entry level engineering jobs as well.  

Typical annual salary range: $51k – $106k

Median salary: $74,415 / year

Lighting Designer

Indoor cultivation requires precise lighting in order to be successful. Many lighting engineers within the cannabis industry have a background in optics or lighting for indoor agriculture. In recent years, the industry has been transitioning away from high-pressure sodium lights and toward LEDs in an initiative to reduce energy costs. And as the industry evolves, demand is only increasing for custom LED lighting recipes that best grow specific strains.

Typical annual salary range: $48k – $65k

Median salary: $52,447 / year

Extraction Technician

There are many areas of focus within the cannabis extraction world, from distillates and isolates to edibles and soft drinks. A chemistry background is a plus for extraction jobs, though some companies offer on-the-job training for the right candidates.

Typical annual salary range: $25k – $55k

Median salary: $36,826 / year

Laboratory Research Scientist

Cannabis science is truly in the beginning stages of development. There is still so much to discover about the plant, from research into cannabinoids to DNA sequencing for cannabis. Many research positions require an advanced degree in either biology or plant biochemistry, with prior plant research experience preferred.

Typical annual salary range: $49k – $105k

Median salary: $74,570 / year

Software Developer

Software developers will usually work closely with automation & controls engineers to help develop applications, from online dashboards to smartphone apps. UI/UX designers are also in high demand. 

Typical annual salary range: $58k – $112k

Median salary: $80,018 / year

Data Analyst

Data analysts are responsible for understanding the dynamics of an indoor grow, and predicting how each environmental variable will interact together. Using these insights, an analyst will develop machine-learning algorithms that help the consumer optimize their cultivation space, via a controls system dashboard.

Typical annual salary range: $46k – $96k

Median salary: $67,377 / year

Director of Cultivation

Blending science and management, a cultivation director must oversee the entire grow operation from start to finish. Prior experience with operations management is usually preferred, though cannabis industry experience is desirable as well.  

Typical annual salary range: $70k – $164k

Median salary: $111,069 / year