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Breaking Into The Cannabis Industry Jobs - Plant Trimmer/Cultivation Worker

December 17th 2018 photo/istock/Zbynek Pospisil

 By Roger Malespin

Among entry level positions in the cannabis industry, the plant trimmer or cultivator is probably the position that most will start at. In a way, it’s the most important position in the industry. The amount of crop in the country has grown and will continue to grow at an exponential rate, and these workers are the backbone of the operation. To be a part of the ground force, one does not need experience but will undergo various stages of training, and there is a lot of room for advancement with time. While some college education and work experience in botany would be preferred, most places will hire with a high school diploma as long as the applicant is at least 21 years old, and will likely need a clean criminal record as well.

The main function of plant trimmers is to manufacture wet or dry flower from stalks and break down plants to process and trim them, separating unusable from usable parts to meet employer and client quality standards. There are many different types of cannabis strains and trimmers will be trained to identify them and how each ought to be processed.

Potential applicants have to understand before sending a resume that this work requires intense focus. Trimming buds is a delicate and meticulous process and it takes many hours to produce a single pound of usable product. As such, workers must be able to sit and focus for hours at a time while maintaining bud quality. Growhouses can be small, medium, or large scale operations, and many workers will be on site at any given time, so it is essential that they be a team player and help their coworkers when needed.

Once a worker has displayed competence in the early stages of the job, they will be taught and guided in more complex areas related to harvesting, drying, and curing. With this will come additional skills of analyzing potential problems with a plant. The amount of dryness to the flower can vary between different operations and products, and can but the goal is always to maximize the usefulness of each bud. Further knowledge of the growing process and various details of cannabis cultivation will come with experience on the job and will serve workers well in any future capacity in the business.

Additionally, workers are required to have a basic knowledge of the cannabis laws and regulations of the state. Of course, further education is encouraged and commendable, so it is recommended workers use some of their own time to acquire more knowledge of the entire process to make a good impression.

The job does not pay well to start, averaging between $13-$16 per hour (depending on the state) according to Forbes, but the work consistency, low entry barrier, and room for growth can offset this. The more skills and knowledge acquired on the job, the more valuable one becomes. Many of the supervisors of grow operations started out on the bottom rung of the ladder as trimmers themselves.

Bud trimming is hit or miss depending on the area and operation. Like all dynamic work environments, taking initiative in ways outlined here could very well put you on a path to advancement, but this is ultimately dependant on the business that employs you. It is recommended that one researches or asks about advancement in the business if that is their goal. However, even if an operation has limited growth potential, the skills acquired will make you more valuable to another. Experienced trimmers who display strong ability are much more valuable than those who are at the beginning stages.

Bud trimming is best suited for people who are comfortable working in a quiet, concentrated manner with a good amount of alone time, for many hours straight. Detail-oriented people who are not bothered by repetitive work are the most ideal. Working environments are often said to be a small, tight knit group of people who have certain perks like listening to music while working.

Overall, there is a lot to consider. This is not a position for someone who needs a higher income immediately, but is possibly the best one for those looking to break into the industry. The work itself is repetitive and diligent, but the knowledge you can acquire about the many stages of the cannabis industry can be leveraged to advancement in cultivating or even other aspects of the industry later on. You won’t become rich as a trimmer, but for astute workers it can be a solid stepping stone to a career in cannabis.