Will Cannabis Job Growth Continue to Outpace Tech Job Growth?

The question of whether or not to legalize medical and recreational cannabis in the U.S. has been debated for over a century. While cannabis is still illegal under federal law, numerous states have legalized marijuana use over the past two decades. Beginning with medical legalization in California in 1996, the drug is now legal (in at least some limited medical capacity) in 29 states and the District of Columbia.

This shift has led to significant growth within the industry’s legal job market, creating a plethora of new career opportunities for small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs), which account for the majority of companies in the legal cannabis industry, and job seekers alike.

Overall industry growth

In 2016 alone, nine states made marijuana (either medical or recreational) legal. Shortly after, the number of cannabis industry job posts rose dramatically. According to ZipRecruiter data, the total number of industry job posts increased by 445% in 2017, compared to an increase of just 18% one year prior.

Our data also shows that the cannabis industry is growing more rapidly than some of today’s fastest-growing fields. Year over year growth of job posts in the cannabis industry is outpacing both tech (254% growth) and healthcare (70% growth)— by some reports, there are 14% more legal marijuana workers than there are dental hygienists in the U.S.

Our Q4 data for 2017 revealed an especially dramatic leap in the number of new cannabis industry job posts. The number of cannabis industry job posts increased 693% year over year and 79% quarter over quarter. This impressive growth can probably be attributed to SMBs preparing for the kick-off of retail cannabis sales in Q1 of 2018 in huge markets like California.

Where to find cannabis industry jobs

When we look at where opportunities in the cannabis industry are located, it’s no surprise that the majority of jobs are concentrated in some of the states that first legalized marijuana.

ZipRecruiter data shows that the top 5 MSAs (metropolitan statistical areas) with the highest total number of job posts in 2017 were concentrated in Colorado, California, and Washington. When it comes to growth in this industry, we see the most significant growth in states that recently loosened their marijuana laws. Two out of the top 5 MSAs exhibiting the greatest job post growth are located in Florida, which legalized medical cannabis in 2016.

MSAs with the most marijuana job openings, according to ZipRecruiter job posting data:

  1. Los Angeles, CA
  2. San Francisco, CA
  3. Denver, CO
  4. Seattle, WA
  5. Miami, FL
  6. Portland, OR
  7. Las Vegas, NV
  8. San Jose, CA
  9. Santa Barbara, CA
  10. Tallahassee, FL


Not only does the legalization of cannabis create a safer and more stable market for medical and recreational users, but it also significantly drives job growth. In fact, analysis from New Frontier Data (a firm that focuses on the marijuana industry) found that the federal government could create at least $131.8 billion in tax revenue over the next eight years if cannabis were legalized in all 50 states. Their research suggests that federal legalization would immediately create 782,000 jobs, and the firm forecasts that that number would increase to 1.1 million jobs by 2025, including growers and retailers.

If you want to be a part of one of the fastest-growing industries in the U.S., you might consider applying for new types of jobs like Wellness Coordinator, Visual Merchandiser, or Post Harvest Technician.

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Written by

ZipRecruiter's former Chief Economist, Cathy Barrera is the founding economist of Prysm Group, a leading blockchain economics and governance design firm.

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