The Ins-and-Outs of Cannabis Cultivation Career Training

The cannabis industry is booming, and with it comes a surge in job opportunities. With cannabis expected to add an amazing $115 billion to the United States economy in 2024, high-value employees are being rewarded handsomely in the industry. Salaries in the cannabis sector saw a significant increase compared to other industries, even amidst the economic challenges of 2023. This trend is expected to continue, with the promise of new markets opening in states like Minnesota and Ohio. cannabis cultivation career training

This positive outlook translates to exciting career prospects for individuals with the right skills. However, one particular area faces a unique challenge: cultivation.

Mac & Fulton Talent Partners, being one of the leading recruiters in the cannabis space, has firsthand experience of the difficulties faced by candidates seeking professional training. The matter is further exasperated when it comes to cultivation career training. Of all the vacancies in the marijuana business, M&F has observed that cannabis cultivation jobs are often the most difficult to recruit for. While there’s a clear demand for skilled cannabis cultivators, there’s a critical gap in training opportunities. Unlike other sectors, many experienced growers honed their craft in the black or grey market, making their expertise difficult to verify on paper.

This lack of formal training also creates confusion for employers, as they go through a sea of candidates with potentially inflated resumes. To complicate matters further, grower vacancies garner the attention of novices outside the industry, all claiming to be masters of the craft.

Therefore, employers looking to hire skilled cannabis cultivators face numerous challenges. These include sifting through questionable information and understanding who might be the best fit for their company.

The Challenges of Cannabis Cultivation Career Training

In more traditional career environments, the fact that an applicant has a relevant college degree takes much of the guesswork out of the hiring process. As a result, they can objectively weigh the coursework stated in a resume against their minimum hiring criteria. Such a process is almost nonexistent when it comes to cannabis cultivation jobs.

The recruiters at M&F Talent Partners are often asked what sort of cannabis cultivation career training is available for aspiring growers. While there is no definitive answer, you can explore a few avenues to strengthen your resume and launch a career in marijuana horticulture.

Here is a brief overview of cannabis cultivation career training options:

Online Cannabis Training

Anyone who has researched an education for marijuana growing has probably run into online training programs, such as THC University. Generally, these online schools offer horticultural education through video tutorials and online quizzes.cannabis cultivation career training

This online training can prove quite helpful when it comes to a basic understanding of cannabis growth processes. However, it does not qualify anyone to be a managerial-level cannabis cultivator.

As such, online certifications benefit those interested in pursuing entry-level positions as cultivation technicians or harvest workers.

Here are some pros and cons of online cannabis cultivation career training:


  • Flexibility: Learn at your own pace, anytime, anywhere.
  • Affordability: Generally more cost-effective than in-person programs.
  • Depth of Topics: Courses might cover specific areas like organic cultivation or breeding techniques.


  • Limited Hands-on Experience: Crucial skills like troubleshooting pest infestations or monitoring nutrient levels are best learned through practical application.
  • Varied Quality: The quality of the course may vary from instructor to instructor.
  • Employer Recognition: While some online certifications hold weight, their value can vary depending on the employer and the program’s reputation.

Compliance Certifications

States like Colorado offer compliance training programs for those seeking a better understanding of the rules and regulations of cultivating cannabis.

If you are looking for cultivation positions, it is recommended that underground growers join such formal training to make their experience more marketable in the now-regulated industry.

Not only does formal compliance training show that a grower is willing to play by the rules, but also that they understand track and trace protocols of entities such as the Colorado MED (Marijuana Enforcement Division).

Compliance certifications can be a game-changer for “grey market” growers seeking to enter the legal cannabis industry.


  • Legitimacy: Shows employers you’re serious about playing by the rules.
  • Regulation Expert: Understands track-and-trace and other key compliance areas.
  • Career Boost: Positions you for higher-level cultivation jobs.


  • Costly & Time-Consuming: Requires investment of time and money.
  • Limited Availability: May not be offered in all legalized states.
  • Focus on Rules: Leans more on regulations than hands-on cultivation techniques.

Controlled Environment Agriculture (CEA) Degrees

For those growers who are truly passionate about a managerial-level career in cannabis cultivation, a four-year degree in Controlled Environment Agriculture is a great choice.

To illustrate, schools such as Cornell University offer extensive indoor and greenhouse crop production training. This coursework applies seamlessly to cannabis cultivation. One of the real draws of programs like this is up-to-date training on cultivation equipment and technology.

As the cannabis industry grows increasingly competitive, businesses are streamlining operations with smart grow equipment and software. Formal training in cutting-edge technology and methods is necessary for higher-level cannabis cultivation jobs.

cannabis cultivation career training


  • Management Ready: Provides the knowledge and skills to lead large-scale cultivation operations.
  • Tech-Savvy Advantage: In-depth training on the latest cultivation technology used in the cannabis industry.
  • Future-Proofed Career: A strong foundation in cutting-edge practices prepares you for the cannabis market.


  • Time & Cost Barrier: Significant investment of time and money may not be accessible to everyone.
  • Broad Focus: Might not offer the most focused training on cannabis-specific cultivation techniques.
  • Experience Matters: A degree alone may not guarantee immediate management positions.

Do Colleges Offer Cannabis Cultivation Career Training?

Due to the novelty of legal cannabis, many traditional universities are still catching up to the times with cannabis cultivation career training. However, there are a few schools you can look at if you are interested in focusing exclusively on cannabis horticulture, chemistry, policy, and business.

Northern Michigan Universitycannabis cultivation career training

Northern Michigan University offers the premier four-year degree program dedicated solely to cannabis cultivation. Titled Medicinal Plant Chemistry, the program covers horticultural techniques and the medicinal applications of cannabis.

University of Maryland’s School of Pharmacy

For pharmacy professionals, the Master of Science (MS) in Medical Cannabis Science and Therapeutics at the University of Maryland offers a two-year program that blends online and in-person learning. This program equips graduates to support patients, contribute to research, and develop informed cannabis policies.

Clark University School of Professional Studies

This recently launched graduate certificate program focuses on the regulatory affairs of cannabis control. It delves into the public policy intricacies surrounding cultivation, distribution, sales, and regulation of both medical and recreational cannabis.

Colorado State University-Pueblo

Aspiring cannabis scientists can explore the Bachelor of Science degree in Cannabis Biology and Chemistry at Colorado State University-Pueblo. This program provides a deep understanding of cannabis genetics, cultivation techniques, and quality control processes.


The cannabis industry is sprouting with opportunity, and with the right training, you can be perfectly positioned to flourish. As we’ve explored, there’s no single path to becoming a qualified cannabis grower. Whether you’re seeking an entry-level harvest technician role or aiming for a management position overseeing large-scale operations, there are educational avenues to equip you with the knowledge and skills employers crave.

Navigating this job market for the first time? As a boutique search firm specializing in agriculture, food production, and cutting-edge technologies, M&F Talent Partners has its finger on the pulse of the cannabis industry. Our experienced recruiters can connect you with top cultivation employers seeking passionate and qualified individuals.

Contact us today for a free consultation!