Here Are the Top 4 Jobs Needed to Run a Dispensary

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Now that 33 states have legalized marijuana use, at least for medical purposes, the cannabis industry has become one of the country’s fastest-growing job sectors. By 2021, the industry is likely to employ more than 400,000 people. Job postings in the industry have outpaced both tech and health care year after year, according to data from ZipRecruiter

Some of the most in-demand jobs can be found at cannabis dispensaries since they comprise a large chunk of the industry. From entry-level to entrepreneur, here’s every opportunity to break into cannabis retail.


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Receptionists, who are your first point of contact at a dispensary, are usually the most entry-level on staff and cover administrative tasks like greeting customers and answering phone calls. Receptionists also help maintain the store’s compliance with state and local regulations by checking customers’ eligibility to make purchases. It’s a great opportunity for those looking to gain industry experience, although the position requires some in-depth knowledge of cannabis. Average pay for receptionists starts around minimum wage, or about $11 to $12 an hour.


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Budtenders help customers decide what kind of marijuana they want. Like sommeliers or—you guessed it—bartenders, these salespeople specialize in pairing customers with their perfect product. Since budtenders have extensive knowledge of different trends, strains and medical uses, they can answer customers’ questions and offer suggestions. They also educate customers on proper dosage and product safety to ensure they have an enjoyable experience. Budtenders are usually paid $12 to $15 an hour, or about $25,000 to $30,000 a year, including tips.



Behind the scenes is the dispensary manager, who handles day-to-day operations and maintains the store’s regulatory compliance. These daily tasks might include scheduling, training, ordering products, arranging deliveries and establishing the store’s appearance. More broadly, managers are responsible for assembling a team of knowledgeable staffers and ensuring the dispensary’s profitability. Managers often have years of retail or managerial experience in the cannabis industry and earn an average salary of $75,000 a year with a bonus based on sales.


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Entrepreneurs who want to set up shop should expect some unique challenges to entering the business. For example, obtaining a license to operate a dispensary can be a difficult and expensive process. Not only do applicants need to show that they can successfully run a business, but they also need to follow compliance regulations around security and management. Licensing can cost anywhere between $5,000 and $25,000, often with hefty legal fees. 

Prospective owners should have a thorough knowledge of all things cannabis since they will be launching the dispensary. It’s important to stay up to date on current marijuana laws, as stores must be in compliance to continue selling. It often takes time for a dispensary to become profitable in a newly legalized state or a state with a saturated market, but if owners can overcome these risks, they have the potential to earn six-figure salaries.

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