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how much do dispensary 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.

How Much Do Cannabis Growers Make Selling to Dispensaries?

Marijuana is uprooting laws everywhere and set the United States on fire with intrigue. Currently, 33 states have legalized marijuana in some form, whether it’s recreational or medicinal. At this rate, by 2021 the industry is projected to net $31.4 billion.

With such exponential growth, dispensaries are now popping up everywhere, and everyone wants a piece of the profits. Growers are starting to cultivate fields of the plant in hopes that they’ll reap more green than just marijuana.

But how much do growers make selling to dispensaries?

If you’re watching the marijuana industry expansion, and you’re thinking of starting your cannabis cultivation, read on to learn the numbers of a marijuana grower’s salary and more.

What do Cannabis Cultivators Do?

People who grow marijuana tend to be known as cannabis cultivators or marijuana growers. Cannabis is the technical term for marijuana.

In short, cannabis cultivators oversee the growth and production of marijuana. Typically marijuana is grown in a greenhouse. These greenhouses range anywhere from small-scale to several thousand feet.

Even though cannabis is a relatively easy plant to grow, there are certain aspects that are needed to produce a quality product. Cultivators become experts in marijuana. They understand the details that go into growing a healthy crop, such as soil, water, lighting, temperature, and more.

The responsibilities don’t stop at growth, production, and oversight.

Cultivators potentially manage an array of different tasks related to their business. One day they could be inspecting their crops, another day they could be dedicated to marketing, meeting with buyers, combing through finances, or maintaining strict guidelines.

At this time, the market is vast for growers and opportunity is plentiful.

What Are Dispensaries?

Cannabis dispensaries are places that you can visit to gain access to marijuana. Their location is in a hospital or doctor’s office.

Dispensaries, at its basic level, has similar traits to a pharmacy. Though contrary to a typical pharmacy, instead of seeing pills in bottles, in a dispensary, you’ll find jars filled with herbs or plants.

Budtenders work like pharmacists and answer questions about the type of marijuana strain you’re looking for. They’re knowledgable in THC and CBD compounds, and make recommendations on what they believe might be right for you.

There are two types of marijuana dispensaries, recreational and medical.

Medical dispensaries cater to the needs of patients. These dispensaries distribute marijuana per doctor’s orders with a written document. You must register at the dispensary before being given any medication, and they may track your purchase.

There might be more privacy in a medical dispensary, for example, a separate waiting area and dispensing area.

Recreational dispensaries work differently.

One noticeable difference is that anyone (over the age of 21), can visit a recreational dispensary, no doctor’s orders necessary. They might carry a variety of products like edibles, topicals, or flowers.

Unlike medical dispensaries, recreational ones are more of a come-and-go place, and while they both employee budtenders, the budtenders devote more time to helping those in a medical environment.

The Relationship Between Growers and Dispensaries

Selling to a dispensary isn’t as clear-cut as it sounds. There could be some humps to overcome, especially when it comes to legalities.

For starters, you’ll need a license to sell, and licenses can vary depending on which state you live or want to market to.

You’ll also need to decide if you want to sell to a medical or recreational dispensary. This is probably one of the most vital decisions you make when choosing to cultivate cannabis for a few reasons.

First, the standards for medical marijuana are higher than recreational. Even though each dispensary will have their requirements, marijuana that’s sold to medical dispensaries must be of strict medical quality.

Second, again, each dispensary will have their requirements and preferences on which type of marijuana they will purchase.

Some want organic, or specific strains. Knowing which dispensary you’re aiming for when growing, narrows your choices down so you can focus on producing a stellar crop.

How Much Do Growers Make Selling to Dispensaries?

The range of pay for growers fluctuates according to location, size of crops, where and how marijuana grows, and the laws in your area. An average annual salary could be between $50,000 and up to $100,000 or substantially more.

In 2017, dispensaries in California were purchasing marijuana for a few thousand dollars a pound.

But nailing down set prices across the board for all dispensaries is impossible. Each facility will have different pricing as they adhere to different standards.

Different Jobs

Being a grower is not the sole option for pursuing a career in cannabis. If growing marijuana does not appeal to you, you might consider these other positions:

Budtender: You’ve read that budtenders work in dispensaries, but how much do budtenders make anyway? They rake in $31,000-$42,000 depending on the dispensary.

Bud Trimmer: Budtrimmers prune and trim marijuana and make about $25,000-$30,000 per year.

Dispensary Store Manager: If you’re wondering how much a dispensary pays to manage a store, the pay scale is anywhere from $60,000-$120,000

Technician: Every plant needs to be extracted, and a technician can make $70,000-$100,000

Marijuana Edibles Chef: Cannabis and cooking go hand-in-hand bringing in a steady $40,000-$80,000.

These are just a taste of careers in the cannabis field. For additional choices, read more about what other jobs are offered and see if one attracts you.

How Do I Become a Grower?

Becoming a cannabis cultivator is much more complex than just buying a few plants and hoping for the best.

Having a license is a must, but before that comes many other factors.

A degree in horticulture or extensive knowledge and experience in the field of botany can help tremendously.

Realize growing cannabis is an opportunity to grow (no pun intended), and learn in your craft more than you already do. Resist the urge to call yourself ‘a master grower’ and instead showcase your product.

Growing cannabis is hard work. Most likely, you’ll be responsible for the health of more than 100 plants at a time.

If you have trouble maintaining houseplants or even a garden, seriously reconsider (or cultivate a love for!) pursuing a career as a grower.

Go For Growth

Hopefully, this article has answered how much do growers make selling to dispensaries and has left you thoughtfully contemplating (or not!) becoming a cannabis cultivator. Do you think you have what it takes?

Do you still need help deciding on an education? We’ve got you covered! Visit our site for information on education.

If you're watching the marijuana industry, and you're thinking of starting your cannabis growing company, read on to learn how much cannabis growers earn.