3 Growing Career Opportunities in Canada’s Cannabis Sector

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Back in the late 1990s, the dot-com boom unleashed a tsunami of employment opportunities for people who wanted to join what was still called the World Wide Web. More than a decade later, the rise of smartphones and mobile apps created a similar wave of job openings for workers with a wide variety of skill sets and backgrounds.

In 2019, it’s the cannabis sector that will reshape the demand for labour, and tech-related fields are just part of the equation.

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According to recent figures from Statistics Canada, for example, the number of people employed in cannabis-related jobs in November 2018 was 10,400, an increase of 7,500 (+266%) from 12 months earlier. While some of these jobs could be as simple as bud trimming, emerging cannabis firms have a lot of work to do in building their brand, improving the way they operate, and making the most of digital channels.

Here are a few examples of career options worth watching, what’s involved, and what you need to prepare.

The Job: Software Developer

What You’ll Be Doing

The variety of applications in the cannabis sector will depend on whether you’re applying to work with a producer or a supplier to the industry, but the latter may offer some particularly interesting projects to create tools that help firms exchange information, transact sales, or monitor the health of their business.

What It Takes

“Full-stack” developers may need to have proficiency in high-end application development techniques involving what are known as microservices, as well as single-page application (SPA) frameworks like Angular and Backbone. In other roles, knowledge of cloud-based platforms like Microsoft Azure or AWS will be essential, as will training in key programming languages such as JavaScript, C# and SQL.

Those interested in learning new frameworks or programming languages have access to a variety of new learning options designed for busy professionals, from coding bootcamps to free online courses and, even, corporate-led training programs.

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The Job: Data Analyst

What You’ll Be Doing

There are lots of traditional industries, from banks to retailers, that are trying to move beyond guesswork or instinct in making business decisions and acting based on insight from data. Many firms in the cannabis industry want to be more data-driven from the beginning. While the titles in this area may vary, expect to be involved in everything from building “data dictionaries” that define what’s being analyzed to using analytics tools to produce reports, teaching your coworkers about data visualization and how to use it effectively.

What It Takes

Data science might seem intimidating to newcomers, but a lot of the tools are becoming more standard and there are a growing number of data science courses to learn them. Some of the key products you might need to know include basic spreadsheet applications to Tableau, Power BI, SSRS, Cognos, Splunk, Sumo Logic, Salesforce Einstein, Crystal Reports and more. Some job listings in this area say knowledge of specific programming languages, like Python, are a plus.

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The Job: Marketing Specialist

What You’ll Be Doing

Like everything else in the cannabis sector, there are new firms starting their marketing departments from scratch, which mean that there will be openings for more junior roles all the way up to manager and even director level. The duties will likely run the gamut, too. Budgets will need to be allocated around areas such as field marketing teams that work with sales to help generate demand, advertising strategy, events planning and production, and of course brand messaging and PR that anchors all the marketing content.

What It Takes

Marketing vacancies tend to seek out those with a background in a similar role or even some education in business administration. You might stand out, though, by demonstrating any additional training or coursework you’ve done in making the most of connecting with consumers across digital channels such as social media, email, websites, or even apps.

Given current limitations on advertising in the cannabis sector, the ability to experiment with paid and unpaid marketing tactics, as well as new platforms, will help set you apart. Luckily, there have never been more online marketing courses available to help bring you up-to-speed on new skills and technologies.

These kinds of jobs are just the tip of the iceberg, of course. As the cannabis sector continues to expand across Canada, a successful career will depend on a willingness to keep learning, adapting to change and an entrepreneurial attitude. In other words, working in cannabis is all about having the right kind of growth mindset.