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How to become a Cannabis Master Grower

How to Become a Master Grower

As Cannabis & Hemp Trainers and Recruiters, we get asked this question fairly often. How do I become a Master Grower? There are many titles that employers can use for this role, some of the most popular are Master Grower, Lead Grower, Head Grower, Director of Cultivation, and Farm Manager.

While the title varies, the responsibilities of the Master Grower are always the same. Below we have provided information regarding cannabis cultivation and working your way up to become a Master Grower.

The cannabis industry is expected to exceed $30 billion by the year of 2022. Based on these predictions, it is evident that the employment opportunities within the industry will also grow.

Job opportunities in cultivation are highly sought after and can sometimes be more competitive than other roles in this industry, so understanding the ways you can prepare to enter into a role like this can be quite beneficial.

Keep reading this article for tips and guidelines on how to become a Master Grower.

What is a Master Grower?

A Master Grower is an individual who has dedicated their career to cultivating cannabis, they have learned what it takes to run a large-scale commercial cannabis operation, successfully.

Since the cannabis industry is still fairly new, job seekers are still navigating their way through trying to figure out where to start. But being as new as it is, it gives individuals more options on how to start their career. For instance, it is required to have a law degree to practice law. In cannabis however, there is no universal requirement to receive any kind of degree to become a Master Grower therefore, there is no “one way is the only way and the best way.”

First, we will discuss the paths you can take to work in cannabis cultivation and then we will explain what it actually takes to be a Master Grower and the responsilbities included.

Working Yourself Up the Ladder

If you wish to become a Master Grower but don’t possess a formal university education in botany or horticulture, there are other ways to become a Master Grower.

Some individuals prefer to learn cannabis cultivation or basic horticulture in a “Hands-On” fashion rather then by the books. All Master Growers in the cannabis industry have started in a lower-level role and have worked themselves up. Some growers may have even started by setting up a personal grow operation (in states that allow it) and learning how to grow on their own. After doing so, they decide they want to make it their career, so they enter into a commercial cultivation role and work themselves up the ladder to a Master Grower role.

If you are looking to create a personal grow, check out our Personal Cannabis Cultivation Course.

If your state does not allow personal cultivation, that is okay! Most entry level cultivation positions do NOT require any sort of experience or degree although it is beneficial.

College Education

Although there are exceptions, Master Growers usually hold some sort of Degree in Botany or Horticulture. Receiving a college education that is related to horticulture or plant science in any way will always be beneficial to your resume. Think about it, an employer may want to hire an employee with a college degree and 5 years of experience versus the candidate with just 5 years of industry experience.

Again, some individuals are hands-on learners or may not have the time to get a degree. But if you have the motivation and the opportunity to do so, receiving a college education will have a positive impact on your career. Keep in mind though that even with a degree, do not expect to land a “Master Grower” position fresh out of college, you will still need to start in a lower level role because cannabis is unlike any other plant in this world, so earning a broad plant science degree will help you understand the plant, but it will not prepare you to be a master grower until you are actually in a cultivation environment. This is the same for any cannabis cultivation specific university courses/degrees or training, you can still learn by the book, but you will always need the experience under your belt as well.

Entry level cultivation positions to look out for can include (but not limited to):  Cultivation Technician/Associate, Propagation Technician, Trimmer, Harvest Technician, and Grow Assistant

**Keep in mind that “Dispensary Agents” can also possess responsibilities working in a grow operation as some states will allow the grow operation to be connected to their dispensary**

Working In Horticulture, “pre-cannabis employment”

We have had many individuals transition from one career into the cannabis industry. This is the same for individuals with a horticultural background as well. Since a majority of people wish to become a grower or work in cultivation, landing these entry level positions can be extremely competitive. If you are not having luck locating any cannabis cultivation roles in your area, then go back one step. Instead of looking for cannabis jobs, look for horticulture jobs outside of the industry.

There are many nurseries, greenhouses, and farms that are growing plants all around you. If you can gain experience in a horticulture role outside of the industry and then apply for any cannabis cultivation positions, I guarantee you that your resume will stand-out from other resumes being submitted. This shows the potential employer that you have taken the initiative to gain some sort of relevant experience and that you are committed.

What Does it Take to Be a Master Grower?

Although some people think they have what it takes to be a Master Grower, they must know what they’re talking about. It’s not enough to think you can grow the best cannabis, you must know the basics, the advanced, and the unexpected.

A Master Grower knows the ins and outs of cultivating cannabis. Make sure you are completely comfortable with the stages of growing — clone/seed, flower, and vegetable. Don’t throw around these terms unless you know exactly what they mean.

Also, you must be familiar with the optimal environmental factors such as ventilation, temperature, light, water, humidity, etc.

You can’t grow a great plant unless you feed it the right nutrients, keep pests away, fix pH levels, and keep it healthy.

Master Growers must know all the state regulations and how to follow them. They must know how to deal with state inspectors, as well as state and federal law enforcement officials. They also must know what information needs to be submitted to the state and when. All these guidelines must be followed exactly as set forth by the state to avoid fines, recalls, and possibly being shut down.

So, before you earn the title of Master Grower, you need to cultivate cannabis in a legal setting for several years, keeping all of the factors mentioned above in mind.

Be Ready to Put in The Work

The work of a Master Grower never ends. Master Growers are in charge of growing cannabis on a larger scale. Most people who grow it as a hobby don’t have any idea all the work it takes to grow in 10,000-50,000 square foot or more as supposed to 200 square feet.

Many master cannabis cultivators utilize grow rooms and vertical farming systems to maximize production capacity. These innovative growing methods provide bountiful year-round yields to keep up with the tough cannabis market competition. Vertical farming entails understanding the natural and technical requirements of marijuana plants. You may read about the 10 Essential Vertical Farming Tools for the Ultimate Grow Room to learn more.

If you want to become a Master Grower, know that you will have to put in a lot of work and many hours a day. You shouldn’t expect this job to be fun and exciting every day. Most Master Growers spend their time observing each plant. They must track the plant’s growth cycle, feed, water, and watch out for health issues. Although it can get tedious and repetitive on a day to day, once the plant is harvested it will be quite rewarding!

Duties of a Master Grower

As mentioned before, a Master Grower has a long list of responsibilities. When looking for a Master Grower, a licensed cannabis grower will look for a candidate who has an extensive horticulture background, but someone who also possesses managerial skills.

The duties of a Master Grower include:

  • Extensive knowledge of garden maintenance plus grow and trim rooms
  • Able to work in collaboration with other experts
  • Responsible for hiring and firing employees
  • Must know how to plan/coordinate production cycles
  • Expert in plant soil, nutrients, pH levels, and more
  • Know which pests are good and which to use depending on the disease
  • Understanding the light requirements for each plant
  • Making sure the crops have the proper temperature, humidity, and ventilation
  • Expert in state laws, Inventory and POS Systems

Based on the level of knowledge and training, the salary of a Master Grower is around an average of $83,500 a year. Some of the larger cannabis companies pay their Master Growers over $150,000 a year!

How to Become a Master Grower: The Bottom Line

Now that you know all of the different paths for how to become a Master Grower, it’s time you decide which one makes more sense for you.

You can go the traditional route and start attending college to get a bachelor or masters education in botany or horticulture. Others prefer to get a job in the industry and work their way up over about the same amount of time it takes to earn a college degree.

For those that have no idea what growing cannabis consist of, HempStaff offers a beginner’s course on cannabis cultivation for those who want to know what growing this plant entails on a smaller level.