Labor shortage, rising wages could strike Canada’s cannabis sector in late 2018

Marijuana companies could face a tight labor market and rising wages as businesses in this fast-growing industry compete for skilled workers after legalization takes effect.

That’s according to Alison McMahon, founder and CEO of Calgary, Alberta-based Cannabis at Work, Canada’s leading cannabis staffing agency.

A new salary survey by Cannabis at Work analyzed 26 benchmark positions in the marijuana industry to help executives track labor supply and demand and adjust compensation strategies accordingly.

Jobs with transferable skills from other industries will see less competition among businesses – and less pressure on salaries – than positions unique to the cannabis industry, such as those that require cultivation skills, McMahon said.

“There will be tight labor markets with certain functions. I would expect that to be the case for cultivation and production, but not necessarily for retail,” she said. “Now that the cannabis industry is more mainstream, we’re seeing people (with transferable skills) starting to enter this market more freely.”

Nineteen licensed producers participated in the salary survey.

In-demand positions among the growing number of cannabis companies could include master grower (79,700 Canadian dollars [$61,400] average annual value), growing technician (CA$43,600 aav), quality assurance person (CA$91,300 aav) and extraction specialist (CA$54,100 aav).

On the top end of the survey, the average midpoint salaries for CEO, CFO and COO were CA$207,000, CA$180,200 and CA$162,500, respectively.

On the bottom end, the average midpoint salaries for customer care specialist, security specialist and shipping manager were CA$41,823, CA$46,239 and CA$42,976, respectively.

Matt Lamers can be reached at [email protected]

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