Why Budtending Could Be The Hottest Job Of The Next Five Years

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Looking for the next big growth field? Consider getting into the marijuana business.

Retail sales of medical and recreational marijuana in the United States are expected to come in between $8 billion and $10 billion this year (a nearly 50% increase from 2017) and could reach $22 billion by 2022, according to Chris Walsh, industry analyst and editorial vice president of MJBizDaily. And that growth means there are a ton of job opportunities.

“The cannabis sector currently employs an estimated 125,000 to 160,000 full-time workers,” he said at The Marijuana Business Conference & Expo. “To put this in perspective, there are potentially more full-time marijuana industry workers than there are librarians or kindergarten teachers throughout the country – and over 6 times the number of coal miners in the U.S.”

The industry is projected to add as many as 340,000 full-time jobs by 2022, an estimated annual growth rate of 21%.

To put the sales numbers into more relatable terms, notes Walsh, 2017 U.S. sales of medical and recreational cannabis were nearly nine time higher than those Oreo cookies. And Americans spent nearly as much on weed as they did, collectively, on Netflix subscriptions.

This year, with California in the mix, industry sales could top McDonald’s annual revenue.

The numbers are likely to continue rising. The federal government doesn’t seem likely to reverse its stance on marijuana in the near future (though prominent former members of Congress have reversed their opposition). Still, more states are taking matters into their own hands and legalizing some form of the drug. This November, for instance, Michigan voters will decide whether to legalize recreational use. And Missouri seems poised to put the issue of medical marijuana on the ballot this year as well. New Jersey and New York are also floating the idea.

That’s going to open up a lot of budtender jobs in the years to come.