Planting the Seeds of STEM: A Call for Scientists in the Cannabis Industry

August 30, 2018


Planting the Seeds of STEM: A Call for Scientists in the Cannabis Industry by Patricia Miller

How The Cannabis Job Market Is Ripe For STEM Professionals

Legal cannabis is one of the fastest growing industries in North America. New Frontier Data, a cannabis analytics firm, recently reported there will be more than 250,000 jobs for American workers in the cannabis market by 2020.

The potential for Canadian job growth will be even larger, as Canada is soon to become the first G20 nation to legalize recreational consumption on a national level. Careers in STEM will see the most growth as cannabis companies scramble to find qualified applicants to fill a diverse array of challenging positions.

Professionals with backgrounds in STEM will be entering a high-paying and expanding market. Many employers are willing to pay more than $150,000 a year for applicants with the right skill set. Current listings mention preferred experience in such fields as: plant biology, chemical engineering, plant genetics, analytical chemistry, and robotics software engineering.

Many commercial enterprises are studying plants on a cellular level to determine which cannabinoids produce certain physiological effects. In order to market and make sense of that information companies will require biochemists, biopharmacologists, phytochemists, and data scientists who can conduct research, interpret data, and utilize their findings in large scale production. Some companies are even seeking to integrate A.I., blockchain, and cryptocurrency into their operations and are recruiting individuals who are well-versed in the tech to join their teams.

A Background In Science Isn’t Everything

Applicants filling these positions will be expected not only to have backgrounds in the aforementioned sciences, but will also have to anticipate challenges and hang-ups in a largely undeveloped industry. Problem-solving and embracing new technologies will be pivotal in keeping up with demands from a hungry and previously underserved market of consumers.

GreenWave Advisors, another cannabis industry analyst, estimates there are at least 30 million recreational marijuana users in the U.S. alone. As this demographic continues to grow, commercial operations will require more diversity from their applicants, including expertise with cannabinoid extraction, software development for cloud based platforms, robotic process automation, and genomic DNA isolation.

Opportunities are available in 29 states across the U.S. and will be widespread throughout Canada once the legislation passes in August or September of this year. The creation of so many new jobs necessitated the development of cannabis specific career platforms where applicants can search for positions related to their field of study.

Sites such as Vangsters and AngelList offer a variety of opportunities within the cannabis field. Many of their postings are high-paying, technically advanced professions focused on filling gaps in STEM related aspects of cultivation, harvesting, systems optimization, and product development.

In addition to the $20 billion a year Canada is anticipating from the cannabis boom, several more American states are bringing cannabis legislation to the polls this year. As legislation catches up to demand, there is a strong likelihood for continued growth in what is now a highly technical career field.

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