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How much cannabis cultivation employees make in the Tri-State market

The Tri-State Cannabis Industry, which includes New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut, is expected to grow fast, especially with the legalization of adult-use cannabis reaching NY within the next few years and already making headwind in NJ. Single operators, multistate operators, and job seekers are shifting their focus from the heavily regulated West Coast market to the Tri-State region, where there will be plenty of cannabis job opportunities.

Globally, the cannabis cultivation market is expected to make $1,884.1 billion by 2030. Cultivation is the most important sector in cannabis, as the quality of cannabis products depends on the quality and execution of the cultivation process. Currently, flower is the best-selling cannabis product at dispensaries—61% of the top-selling dispensary products is flower. The Tri-State cannabis market will need to fill plenty of cultivation roles and create efficient teams to produce high-quality flower consistently to keep up with demand. Talented individuals with green thumbs when it comes to growing cannabis will find plenty of job options on the East Coast. With Croptober around the corner, which is harvest season for sun-grown cannabis, it is a perfect time to look at compensation for some of the popular cannabis cultivation jobs in the Tri-State market – both full-time and temporary. So, what are the immediate jobs that NY, NJ, and CT will be sourcing for? And, most importantly, what are they paying?

VP of Cultivation
The VP of cultivation is responsible for leading grow teams across all locations. They will provide day-to-day guidance and leadership and strategize for each stage of the cultivation process. Their ongoing goal is to improve operational efficiencies by creating detailed plans and working with leadership to schedule monthly, quarterly, and annual blueprints for success. Additionally, they will maintain cultivation budgets, working with the CEO and COO. Some of the cultivation operations they will oversee are the development of novel genetic varieties, harvesting of flower, curing, and nursery propagation. Here are some of the main duties and responsibilities of a VP of Cultivation:

  • Provide leadership and support for cultivation team
  • Develop goals and strategies for genetics, propagation, and cultivation
  • Update and improve Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) to continually improve efficiency in production while remaining compliant to the state’s regulations

Common requirements

  • Master of Agriculture or Ph.D. in Agriculture
  • 5+ years of experience in cannabis operations, cultivation, propagation, and breeding
  • Expertise with nutrients and soil mediums (hydroponics preferred)

Salary: $168,000+

Director of Cultivation
The director of cultivation is responsible for leading the production of high-quality cannabis that is compliant with all state and federal laws. They are also responsible for creating the standard operating procedures, setting up the harvest schedules, managing the cultivation team, and pest control. The director of cultivation will supervise every phase of the cultivation process, quality control, and maintenance. On top of that, they are responsible for recruiting, hiring, and training the cultivation staff. These are some of the job duties of a director of cultivation in the cannabis industry:

  • Leading and scheduling cultivation team activities, including planting, irrigation, harvesting, and chemical application
  • Recording and preparing reports for production and cultivation management for executives
  • Deciding on procedural adjustments to achieve greater cannabis quality for harvesting, drying, storage, etc.

Common requirements

  • Master of Agriculture or equivalent
  • Certified in pesticide application
  • Expert in nutrient management

Salary: $103,400+

Cannabis trimmers perform quality trimming to prepare cannabis plants for sale. They de-fan plants, accurately weigh and record them, cut off the sticks when they dry, and keep their work area clean. It is their duty to maintain the quality of the cannabis plants and ensure an ideal level of cleanliness. Cannabis trimmers work in a fast-paced environment and must have a stellar attention to detail. The entry-level cannabis trimmer position may lead to other cultivation positions, such as head grower. Here are some of the main job duties of a trimmer:

  • Precise wet, dry, or machine trimming
  • Ensure buds are free of any leaf material for a sale-ready aesthetic
  • Accurate recording of trim weight

Common requirements

  • Ability to stay focused on a task for long periods of time
  • Experience as a cannabis trimmer is a plus
  • Ability to weigh and measure accurately

Salary: $34,760+

Cultivation technician
Cultivation technicians support the head grower as well as the section growers. They handle the day-to-day plant maintenance and keep the cultivation facility clean. Considered the main labor force behind any professional growth team, cultivation technicians take part in all the phases of the cultivation process. They must go through proper training to carry out SOPs that lead to high-grade cannabis that can be packaged and delivered in a timely manner. The cultivation technician position is an entry-level role. Both candidates with and without cannabis experience may land the job opportunity. A blank slate may be better for some teams, as they have no prior experience or preference of how to execute a cannabis grow – making it the perfect job opportunity for job seekers looking to dip their toes in the growing industry. Here are some of the main job duties of the cultivation technician:

  • Assist with plant processing, including trimming, inspecting, weighing, and packaging
  • Transport harvested plants to designated areas
  • Keep the work area clean and organized 

Salary: $33,500+

Common requirements

  • Capability to learn about the fundamentals of harvesting, drying, trimming, and curing
  • Ability to perform manual labor tasks
  • Strong attention to detail and time management skills

Starting or expanding your cannabis cultivation team
Whether you are staffing a cultivation team for a start-up or an expansion of your business, choosing the right talent is crucial. In addition to filling some of the highlighted roles discussed, there are other key players to consider. Some key positions are director of operations, post-harvest manager, and system program expert. There are also temp roles you may need for cultivation support or Croptober, including harvest technicians, cultivation associates, and processing technicians.

Director of Operations: The individual in this role will coordinate all the different sectors of a cultivation facility. They oversee operations in cultivation, extraction, purchasing, shipping, and, in some cases, human resources. The director of operations ensures all sectors are working toward the same goal for the cannabis company.

Post-Harvest Manager: They oversee the finished crop once it has moved on from the cultivation phase. The post-harvest manager will make sure the cannabis flower is trimmed, dried, and cured. They are also responsible for packaging and labeling, ensuring the dried flower is stored properly in a way that quality is preserved.

System Program Expert: This individual is the technology professional of your cultivation team. They handle technical troubleshooting and get equipment from climate control tech to inventory tracking systems to work together.

If you are a start-up, a few employees may wear multiple hats initially, but as you grow, so should your cultivation team. When you begin the process of sourcing your cultivation dream team in the Tri-State market, compensation plays a key factor. Build your best team for Croptober and beyond.

Download CannabizTeam’s 2022 Tri-State Cannabis Industry Salary Guide

Liesl Bernard, Founder and CEO of CannabizTeam:
Liesl Bernard is the founder and CEO of the industry’s premier cannabis staffing firm–CannabizTeam. Above all, she is passionate about people and helping companies create a competitive advantage by recruiting exceptional talent. She has over 20 years of global executive search and placement experience. Prior to launching CannabizTeam and CannabizTemp, she was working with Fortune 500 companies. Her vast background in global executive search and staffing with a strong focus on all verticals of the cannabis industry formed the foundation to create the world’s fastest-growing cannabis staffing firm in the global market. Liesl and her team continually set themselves apart by their fine-tuned ability to understand each client’s business. Additionally, they take time to learn the skills, personality, and culture fit required for each unique placement. Since their start, CannabizTeam has connected top talent with thousands of jobs at the leading cannabis private and public companies across North America and Canada.

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