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how much do marijuana growers make

Master Grower Salary: How Much Do Weed Farmers Make?

Curious how much you could get paid working in the legal cannabis industry? We conducted a survey of over 2,000 participants working in the US cannabis industry, from those working on grow operations (master growers, bud trimmers, edibles chefs, extraction technicians) to those working in dispensaries (budtenders, dispensary managers, dispensary owners, receptionists, security) on their annual salaries and bonuses, and compiled a simple report to show you the average salary, salary range, and bonuses you can expect for the most common cannabis industry jobs.

Have a question about a specific marijuana job? Ask us in the comments!

Read on below to learn how much do dispensary jobs pay, and how much marijuana growers make.

Marijuana Job Salaries

  • 1. Marijuana Growing Jobs: Quick Salary Comparison Chart
  • 2. Marijuana Dispensary Jobs: Quick Salary Comparison Chart
  • 3. How much do growers make selling to dispensaries?
  • 4. How much does a Master Grower make?
    • 4.1 Master Grower Salary
    • 4.2 Assistant Grower Salary
    • 4.3 Bud Trimmer Salary
    • 4.4 Marijuana Extraction Technician Salary
    • 4.5 Marijuana Edibles Chef Salary
  • 5. How much do dispensary jobs pay?
    • 5.1 Budtender Salary
    • 5.2 Dispensary Manager Salary
    • 5.3 Dispensary Owner Salary
    • 5.4 Dispensary Receptionist / Security Salary
  • 6. Working in the Cannabis Industry 101: Useful Terminology
    • 6.1 Cannabis Strains: Indica, Sativa, Hybrid
    • 6.2 Hydroponic Growing
    • 6.3 Cannabis Propagation & Cloning
    • 6.4 Transplanting
    • 6.5 Harvesting
    • 6.6 Bud Trimming
  • 7. Master Grower Job Description
  • 8. Working Your Way Up in the Green Rush: The Future of Legal Cultivation

Master Grower, Bud Trimmer & Other Marijuana Growing Job Salary Comparison

Budtender & Marijuana Dispensary Job Salary Comparison

How much do growers make selling to dispensaries?

The amount a grower makes selling to dispensaries varies based on the size of the grow operation. For example, here’s what the top 5 producer/processors in Washington State made in 2018:

  • Sunnyside Northwest: $200,662,980
  • Grow Op Farms: $91,255,557
  • Northwest Cannabis Solutions: $45,186,770
  • My Weed Bunny: $45,082,317
  • Cowlitz County Cannabis Cultivation: $28,031,838

In 2018, the average grower in WA made $1,057,383. There were a total of 990 revenue-producing grow operations included in the calculation of that average.

Looking at just the top 10% of grow operations, the average sales for 2018 was $8,232,026. The average sales across the bottom 90% of grow operations was $268,253.

As you can see, the big producer/processors make a killing. But the average grower makes a much more modest income.

How much does a Master Grower make?

Master Grower Salary

Becoming a paid, legal marijuana grower is a highly sought after position in the legal cannabusiness and comes with high levels of responsibility and equally impressive compensation. Assistant growers, on average, earn $20.55 per hour; master growers typically earn a salary of $125,000 per year and sometimes a share in the grow operation’s profits.

The marijuana grower salaries awarded to grow-op leaders are well deserved as the job is all encompassing, stressful and requires both personal and professional time commitments.

In our survey results, master growers had an average annual salary of $125,000. The average salary for a master grower ranges from $85,000 to $145,000, depending on size of the grow operation and which state they were located in.

Assistant grower salary

Assistant grower at a commercial operations earns $48,000 per year on average. Typical range of assistant grower annual salaries across the US are $43,000 – $53,000.

Bud trimmer salary

A bud trimmer can make an annual salary of $30,000 – $35,000 depending on which state they’re located in. The national average salary for a bud trimmer is $31,000.

Marijuana extraction technician salary

An extraction technician working at a grow operation can make an annual salary of $80,000 – $143,000. The national average salary for an extraction technician is $115,000.

Marijuana edibles chef salary

A professional marijuana edibles chef can make an annual salary of $60,000 – $90,000. The national average salary for an edibles chef is $75,000.

How much do dispensary jobs pay?

Budtender salary

A budtender can make an annual salary of $31,000 – $42,000 depending on which state they’re located in. The national average salary for a budtender is $36,000.

Dispensary manager salary

A professional marijuana dispensary story manage can make an annual salary of $60,000 – $150,000, depending on how profitable their store is. The national average salary for a dispensary manager is $75,000.

Dispensary owner salary

A dispensary owner can make an annual salary of $200,000 – $2,750,000 depending on how well the store’s sales perform. The national average salary for a dispensary owner is $685,000.

Dispensary receptionist / security salary

A receptionist or security guard at a dispensary can make an annual salary of $21,000 – $31,000 , the lowest pay tier among dispensary jobs. The national average salary for a dispensary receptionist or security guard is $23,000.

Working in the Cannabis Industry 101: Useful Terminology

Before breaking down marijuana grower salaries for grow masters, assistant growers and trimmers, it’s necessary to establish some basic vocabulary concerning cannabis cultivation.

Cannabis Strains: Indica, Sativa, Hybrid

One thing that all serious cultivators looking to make high marijuana grower salaries know are the differences between cannabis strains. Strains can be broken down into three major categories and then further specialized into many individual strains. Each strain produces different effects that greatly influence the kind of high or medical treatment customers and patients experience.

Indicas are upheld as couch-lock inducing strains mostly used for sedation and relaxation. In terms of plant appearance and genetics, indicas are bushier and shorter than most sativas and hybrids. On the contrary, sativas produce cerebral, energetic and uplifting highs that are used to treat depression and spur creativity. These plants have pointier leaves and grow taller than indicas. Not surprisingly, hybrids appear along the spectrum between the two former strains as they are created from genetic and geographical mixing by growers.

Hybrids are beneficial as they provide dual effects from both strains in different proportions, and are great for recreational smokers looking to experience a unique high. While also used by medical patients, these individuals still value the hard lined differences between sativas and indicas , as they allow for more specific, accurate courses of treatment.

Hydroponic Growing

Whereas traditional outdoor cannabis cultivation is carried out using soil, hydroponic growing is soilless and involves transferring nutrients directly into a plant’s root system. This process is frequently used by present day cultivators looking to grow a consistent, significant crop, without the climate, nutrition and increased pest-related risks associated with outdoor growing.

Classically, hydroponic growing simply involves suspending a plant’s roots into water and creating a nutrition plan to introduce into the solution that allows the crop to grow forcefully and healthily. As the cultivation process has advanced and factionalized over time, different hydroponic growing practices have arisen that individual companies and cultivators swear by.

Cannabis Propagation & Cloning

When starting a grow operation from seed, growers are given the opportunity to influence the vegetative and mature growth of cannabis, before making clones. Simply put, cloning is the relatively easy processing of cutting off parts of a cannabis plant and allowing these cuttings to form roots of their own and grow into an exact genetic copy of the parent plant.

Many clones can be taken from one healthy plant, though the resulting female crop will be one, unanimous strain. Cloning can be done simply by using a sharp pair of scissors, starter cubes and growing jell .

Transplanting

In order to make significant marijuana grower salaries, cultivators must be confident in their ability to effectively transplant young cannabis plants from smaller containers into larger containers and other environments that allow them to grow vigorously and successfully meet maturity.

Transplanting is a key process in producing a viable crop and can truly make or break a grow operation’s success. If the transplant goes well, the crop will have the nutrition and room it needs to bolster its own growth. If done improperly, the plant will go into shock, which greatly reduces its chance of bearing usable flower or surviving at all.

Harvesting

Once a crop has reached maturity and has produced many flowering buds, it’s high time to consider harvesting. It can be tricky to tell when the best time is to clip the ripe smelling colas from the rest of the plant; but never fear, the answer lies in the trichomes.

The goal when harvesting is to avoid doing it too early, or too late. Plenty of growers have different ideas about what flowers should look like and smell like to reach optimal compound concentration. Naturally, growers want to maximize the levels of THC, CBD and terpenes present in each flower before the plant is exposed to too many factors like light and oxygen and compound levels become less effective. A good product makes happy customers and brings in higher marijuana grower salaries.

Trichomes are small resin saturated hairs that change from white to a darker reddish amber color. Once it has reached this stage, you know it is time to harvest. Letting it go any longer will produce more indica-like effects, including lethargy and anti-anxiety.

Bud Trimming

After a crop has been harvested, cultivators must decide how they want to carry out the trimming process. Depending on the financial resources, staffing needs, and set up of the operation, growers engage either in wet or dry trimming.

As the names suggest, wet trimming is when excess plant matter is removed from trichome-filled flowers before it is cured; dry trimming is done after the curing process is finished and is much more difficult for human hands to do alone.

For operations using wet trimming methods, it’s likely they have hired real people to snip away all the fan leaves, sugar leaves and other unnecessary plant matter to produce the most highly concentrated, aesthetically pleasing final product possible.

Dry trimming is chosen when operations can afford to purchase a machine trimmer, which is more adept at the job than real people, who would likely have to spend more time fumbling around with the dry leaves. Even in situations where cultivators can afford machine trimmers, some choose to keep with standard protocol in order to create jobs for workers. While trimming may not offer one of the highest marijuana grower salaries, it’s a great place to start. See our Marijuana Bud Trimmer Salaries article for more specific information on cannabis trimming pay.

Master Grower Job Description

Depending on what you’re heard (or who you’ve heard it from), growing marijuana can seem like both a simple or elaborate task. Frankly, it can be both at the same time. One the one hand, cannabis flowers actively want to grow and will grow vigorously in the right conditions. Conversely, in order to achieve the perfect mature cannabis flowers, a lot of detail must go into creating and maintaining very specific protocol for feeding, watering, heat, sun, humidity and more.

Marijuana grower salaries are awarded based on the hierarchy of cultivators employed in the operation. Grow masters are ultimately responsible for managing and caring for the entire grow operation and leading a group of assistant growers in maintaining the plants.

When it comes to major grow operations, master cultivator responsibilities are diverse and many. In contrast to home growers cultivating a few plants, master growers can taste the difference between a well cultivated crop and a very well cultivated crop. They understand how these seemingly minute differences between the two can vastly impact the success or failure of the product once it is processed and distributed.

Master growers are constantly having to test their products and determine the efficacy of their growing program in producing an effective product. Under the newly legal cultivation sector, growers send out their products to third parties for quality assurance and to make sure they are abiding perfectly with regulatory compliance measures.

This is perhaps the greatest difference between black market operations of yore and legal ones. Cannabis regulations are no joke and any grower who fails to follow protocol perfectly could be personally fined or jailed, as well as contributing to an entire grow operation being shut down.

Large scale and smaller legal grow ops undergo inspections by regulatory boards armed with a long checklist of compliance measures that each require individual attention. In all honesty, legal growers are pushed to their limits by the somewhat suffocating nature of the legislature. Since the industry is still new and is regulated on a state level, there is a lot of room for continued development in ensuring safe growing practices and fair marijuana grower salaries, without overloading well-intentioned cultivators.

To give a better idea of just how numerous the responsibilities of a grower are, grow masters are expected to have significant prior experience as a master or assistant growers at commercial grow operations. Additionally, more and more growers are expected to hold degrees in horticulture, agriculture or an associated program of study. This requirement is not just for show; growers must prove their confidence in problem solving, should any issues with the plants arise.

There is very little room for error in commercial grow operations, so companies don’t want to waste their time with novices or intermediate level employees when seeking a grow leader.

On top of direct cultivation and management responsibilities, grow masters are charged with accurately recording and organizing data across platforms like Microsoft Excel and other spreadsheet and word processing software.

Working Your Way Up in the Green Rush: The Future of Legal Cultivation

It might seem like an improbable task to acquire a job as a master grower, but in reality it’s all about dedication, education and making connections. While it’s true that some growers have the financial privilege to attend college or university, many top-level cultivators moved their way up the ranks, starting with marijuana trimming jobs or working as grow assistants before gradually obtaining leadership positions.

The weed farmers most likely to garner significant salaries are the passionate, curious cannabis lovers and advocates who truly believe in their business. This is not an industry to get involved in solely for the prospective financial reward. Especially since so much time is spent researching and interacting with cannabis, it is essential to have respect and fascination for the plant and its medical and recreational uses.

Furthermore, as the legislation and regulations for cannabis cultivation changes country and statewide, growers must keep on their toes to make sure they continue to keep their heads above water in following any and all compliance measures. The future may be uncertain, but cultivation opportunities are growing as more Americans are won over by this miracle plant.

Master growers typically earn a salary of $104,000 per year and sometimes a share in the grow operation's profits. Assistant growers earn $20.55 per hour on average. Bud trimmers earn $25,000 – $30,000 per year and sometimes get per-pound bonuses. Edibles chefs earn between $50,000 – $85,000 with a national average of $65,000.

5 High-Paying Jobs in the Marijuana Industry

When most people think of marijuana, they’re likely to think of grow ops set up in secret backrooms of shady dealers. But things are changing, especially now that the stigma attached to using the plant begins to fade. The cannabis plant has been used for both medicinal and recreational purposes for as long as we can remember. But governments have only recently recognized—and admitted—that the physical and economic benefits outweigh the dangers of the drug. In fact, with more areas of the world legalizing usage, the marijuana industry is growing and rapidly innovating. Read on to find out the basics of the industry and what some of the highest paying jobs are in the field.

Key Takeaways

  • Medical marijuana is legal in some form in 35 states and the District of Columbia.
  • The cannabis industry is expected to grow by as much as 14% by 2025, according to a cannabis research group.
  • Top roles in the field include consultant, dispensary executive, extraction technician, grow master, and edibles chef.

The Marijuana Industry: An Overview

People’s perceptions of the cannabis industry are evolving thanks to a greater degree of research and available information. In fact, a study conducted by Pew Research suggests two-thirds of Americans welcome the legalization of the plant.   As of November 2020, 35 states and the District of Columbia legalized medical marijuana, while residents in 15 states and D.C have voted to legalize recreational usage of the drug, according to USA Today.

Although many states have legalized marijuana, the federal government still considers it a controlled or illegal substance.

This new reality is helping the development of a multi-billion dollar industry. Cannabis research group New Frontier Data suggests the industry could grow roughly 14%, with sales reaching as high as $30 billion by 2025.   All of this has major benefits for anyone looking to cash in on a career in an industry that had as many as 28,000 related businesses in 2017, according to market and consumer data provider Statista.

If you want a top-paying position in this industry—which is finally gaining respect for its role in helping people ease medical symptoms and side effects and relax and enjoy themselves more—here are five jobs to consider. The joint, as they say, is jumping.

Cannabis Consultant

Consulting is generally a high-paying career path, and the cannabis industry is no exception. Cannabis consultants can earn six figures by combining their expertise in state and local cannabis regulations with their backgrounds as lawyers, accountants, or people with experience in another area of the marijuana industry.

They can help businesses find acceptable locations, obtain the licenses they need, and advise them on other legal matters so they don’t get fined or shut down. They may also help business owners with bookkeeping and tax requirements, which can be especially tricky, as cannabis is generally a cash-only business due to its illegality at the federal level.

Dispensary COO and CFO

Work for a state-licensed medical marijuana dispensary as a chief operating officer (COO) or chief financial officer (CFO) and you could earn $125,000 a year, plus medical and retirement benefits. Job responsibilities may include:

  • Managing cultivation facility operations
  • Managing the company’s accounting department
  • Supervising financial reporting
  • Overseeing harvesting, processing, and distribution
  • Analyzing operations to improve efficiency and reduce costs
  • Developing and monitoring budgets

Even if you don’t have marijuana industry experience, this position may be open to you if you have held a similar role in another industry and are a certified public accountant (CPA).

Cannabis Extraction Technician

A cannabis extraction technician can earn anywhere between $75,000 to $125,000 annually for doing skilled laboratory work, extracting THC, CBD, and other cannabinoids that provide the therapeutic qualities consumers seek from cannabis plants. These techs use solvents such as CO2 and butane to consistently create high-quality, high potency concentrates. This job’s scientific knowledge base—many workers have a PhD—and risk of injury due to the chemicals involved (a risk that’s higher among people attempting to do extractions themselves in home labs than among trained scientists in a professional setting), contribute to its high pay.

Grow Master/Botanical Specialist

For a salary of approximately $80,000 to $100,000 or more per year, a grow master’s responsibilities may include:

  • Managing warehouses and their grow lights
  • Cloning, transplanting, feeding, trimming, and other growing tasks
  • Training supervisors
  • Managing a warehouse crew
  • Managing garden scheduling and organization to minimize expenses
  • Preventing and eliminating molds, fungi, and pests
  • Keeping records
  • Managing harvests

A successful crop can lead to bonuses on top of an excellent salary.

Marijuana Edibles Chef

Being a successful marijuana edibles chef requires more than an ability to cook and bake well and an understanding of commercial kitchens. It also takes an understanding of how to infuse marijuana into food in quantities that are legal and pleasurable while keeping that overwhelming flavor at bay.

In addition to creating edibles like candies and cookies, chefs can use cannabis-infused oils and butter in creative ways to concoct anything they can dream up, from mixed-berry streusel to mushroom ravioli, while earning $40,000 to $50,000 a year or more—perhaps up to $80,000 for leading a kitchen. Opportunities for additional income exist in blogging about cannabis recipes and cooking techniques, working as a private chef, and catering special marijuana-themed events for cannabis connoisseurs, depending on what state marijuana laws permit.

The Bottom Line

The marijuana industry has numerous high-paying jobs in addition to the five covered here. Many that pay well are also lucrative in other industries—think management, science, and accounting. If you already have skills in a high-paying field, combining them with cannabis knowledge can create new employment opportunities, especially if you live in or are willing to relocate to a state where medical or recreational marijuana is legal. Likewise, if you have cannabis knowledge and are willing to train to become a CPA or other highly paid professional, you can blaze a new career path for yourself.

Here are five high-paying jobs in the marijuana field—a rapidly growing industry that continues to flourish.