Dispensary Jobs: The Complete Guide | Shift Processing

Dispensary Jobs: The Complete Guide

Since the legalization process began, the marijuana industry has boomed. In fact, a recent nationwide study found that 64,000 dispensary jobs were created in 2018 alone.

Given that the industry is growing, many are looking for work in dispensaries. However, current legality differences across state lines can make the application process a bit confusing.

The varying rules and regulations surrounding Marijuana is the main reason why you must be a resident of the state that the dispensary is located in to be an employee. 

Anyone wanting to work a dispensary job will need to supply their employer with information for a federal background check.To qualify in most states, you must have no felony convictions on your record. Prospective employees must also provide a valid State ID as dispensary jobs do require all employees to be over the age of 21.

One of the most common questions that those wanting to enter the medical marijuana industry have is if they need a medical marijuana card to work at a dispensary. There is no law that requires this, but dispensary jobs do prefer that you have experience in the legal cannabis industry.

The marijuana industry has three areas- cultivation, production, and dispensary jobs.       

Cultivation Jobs

marijuana farm





Inventory Manager


Junior Grower


Master Grower



A trimmer is a typical entry level job in the cannabis industry. These workers are in charge of trimming and manicuring the marijuana. Trimmers work closely with the master grower to ensure all raw materials are ready to be cured. 

This entry level position is how most workers take their first steps into the cannabis industry. Trimming jobs generate an average of  $20,000 - $25,000 in annual wages. However, in recent years trimming duties have been shifted to other cultivation site workers.  

Inventory Manager

The main duty of the inventory manager is maintaining the inventory and delivers product to dispensaries or production facilities. Inventory managers are also responsible for processing incoming and outgoing orders. Generally, this position works between the growers and the vendors.

More specifically, the inventory manager is in charge of inventory tracking. Due to the fact that marijuana is illegal federally, inventory must be monitored. Inventory managers oversee and record each time inventory is moved and coordinate these movements.

Given that this is a managerial position, past inventory experience is usually required. Most companies want candidates that are experienced in the legal cannabis industry, and some dispensaries even require a bachelor's degree.

A well paid inventory manager can make as much as $45,000 a year, with the lower end of the salary falling at $25,000 annually.

Junior Grower

Junior growers help the cultivation site function wherever they are needed. Junior growers are primarily responsible for the order, cleanliness, and efficiency of warehouse operations by performing labor work duties. This means duties include watering plants, mixing fertilizer, checking pH, or filling in trimming product.

The skills required to work this position are very specific and must be taught. As a result, employers looking to hire junior growers usually mandate agricultural experience. This can come in the form of a Bachelor’s Degree in Plant Science, or cannabis-specific cultivation experience.

Some cultivation sites hire junior growers as entry-level positions. In these cases, candidates do not need any technical experience. Instead, growth facilities provide brief training that covers the basics of cannabis cultivation.

Yearly salary for junior growers varies depending on job duties and facility size. Usually, they can earn anywhere between 30 and 45 thousand dollars a year.

Master Grower

The master grower is the person in charge of the growing operation as a whole. Daily work for the master grower is to regulate all aspects of the growth operation. They must keep the greenhouse conditions ideal- control lighting, chemicals, and fertilizer.

Each master grower must also keep a detailed log of the daily operations of the cultivation site. These logs can be reviewed by compliance inspectors, local authorities, and the DEA.

In addition to bookkeeping, the master growers also act as general managers of cultivation sites. As managers, their job requires years of experience within the industry. Candidates looking for jobs as a master grower should also have managerial experience.

These steep experience requirements do not go uncompensated. In fact, a master grower can earn anywhere between 80 and 150 thousand dollars per year.

Production Jobs

Marijuana production



Extractor Assistant


Extractor Technician


Master Extractor


Extractor Assistant

Extractor assistants are the hands on workers of the extraction process. It takes very little training to become an extractor assistant, so it's a great way to enter the industry.

With no formal education, a parttime position as an assistant could even turn into a full time career. The technical skills learned in this position are perfect for higher-level extraction jobs. As a result, many who start as an assistants have been known to build cannabis production careers.

Starting salary for an assistant can range between $25-45,000 annually.

Extractor Technician

An extractor technician is essentially the assistant manager of the production process. This person works under the master extractor to oversee the safety of the operation. Working with the master extractor, technicians learn the ins and outs of facility practices. This allows them to take over operations if the master extractor is not available.

For a job seeker interested in this position, it's best to have a degree in chemistry, bio medicine, or plant science. However, these jobs are often offered as promotions to extractor assistants as well.

Entry level extractor technicians usually make around $30,000 a year, but can make as much as $45,000.

Master Extractor

A master extractor is the most difficult job in the entire marijuana industry. The master extractor takes raw marijuana trimmings and makes them into a concentrate. The effects of this concentrate depends on how the production associate extracted it.

Extraction potency varies depending on which gasses were used. Master extractors synthesize amounts of ethanol, carbon dioxide, butane, or nitrogen with trimmings. The way these gasses interact with the trimmings give the concentrate its effects.

Needless to say, this is an incredibly delicate process that requires past experience. Master extractor jobs are held by a wide range of people all with varying degrees of experience.

Some have earned this job with a few years experience in a cannabis job, or other herbology jobs. For those looking to run larger operations, it is necessary to have a PhD in chemical engineering.

With the high demands of the job, come high salaries. A master extractor can easily make upwards of six figures yearly. In fact, most make between 80 and 180 thousand dollars a year.

Dispensary Jobs

dispensary counter





Dispensary Agent


Security Guard


Dispensary Manager



A receptionist is the face of any business. They are in charge of making patients and customers feel welcome.

In a cannabis dispensary, receptionists have the added responsibility of patient care. Similar to hospitals, cannabis receptionists help with forms, check I.D., and coordinate with security.

Employers usually prefer candidates with some experience. Receptionists can expect between 20 and 28 thousand dollars in annual wages.

Dispensary Agent

Dispensary agents are the backbone of marijuana dispensaries. Often called budtenders, dispensary agents interact directly with customers. They welcome them in, answer any questions, and suggest link dosages to symptoms.

Seeing that this job requires so much industry knowledge, previous experience in the legal cannabis industry is a must. Many draw experience from jobs in medicine, like a pharmacy technician. Budtenders must be especially aware of the effects of each particular product. Many candidates interested in this job type receive training to learn these skills.

Recently, these jobs have become the most sought after positions in the industry. As a result, formal training is increasingly necessary to get hired. Luckily, this training is accessible to almost everyone. Dispensary training courses are available in all the following cities:

  • Las Vegas, NV
  • Phoenix, AZ
  • Chicago, Il
  • Denver, CO
  • Los Angeles, CA
  • Scranton, PA
  • Philadelphia, PA
  • Seattle, WA
  • Portland, OR
  • And many more!

Cannabis training makes earning a position at a cannabis dispensary much easier. A position as a dispensary associate can earn between 25 and 35 thousand dollars yearly.

Security Guard

Security guards working for a dispensary are the most essential personnel. As such, they have the broadest job description in the industry.

Security officers working cannabis dispensary jobs are responsible for several things. Most obvious among them is general security. On top of that, many verify MMJ cards or I.D.'s at the door.

The most important job of security officers is to protect the cash the cannabis company has on hand. Cash is the most common payment method for the cannabis industry because most dispensaries don't yet use high risk credit card processing.

High risk processing allows dispensaries to accept card payments. This lessens the amount of cash dispensaries must process and security officers must protect. When dispensaries are flush with huge amounts of cash, instance of robbery increases.

For the security of dispensary workers and customers, security officers protect this cash.

The compensation for this protection is a very competitive wage. Security guards at a medical marijuana dispensary can make upwards of $60,000 in annual wages.

General Manager

Dispensary management is the highest paying of the cannabis dispensary jobs. A dispensary manager is the link between vendors, staff, law enforcement, and landlords. Added to that are all the duties of providing hirees with training for dispensary jobs.

In practice, a general manager also maintains transactional records and contacts between suppliers. This aspect of the job makes business safe, efficient, and legal for the dispensary. 

 Another aspect of the job is as a patient care specialist. Dispensary jobs near large hospitals encounter many patients looking for medical cannabis. The dispensary manager must stay up to date with the dosage for each therapeutic effect.

 Working business, law, and patients, a managerial position absolutely requires practical industry experience. Salaries for dispensary managers can range from $40-95,000 each year depending on dispensary size.

The cannabis industry is only growing from here.

The question that remains is how, or where, to jump start a cannabis career.

Leave a Comment:

Johnny G. says September 17, 2020

Hello, thanks for the article. I’ve been trying to get into the cannabis industry and recently started my own online business that caters to the field. This article gives a good understanding on how the industry works and just wanted to say thanks for the information.

Kevin mannella says July 16, 2021

Probably a stupid question but I order to work at a dispensary do you need to smoke?

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