What is a Marijuana Lab Director?
Marijuana lab directors oversee lab technicians and other personnel in facilities that produce and process marijuana and marijuana products, like concentrates and extracts. They're responsible for quality assurance (QA) and quality control (QC), which typically includes conducting analytical testing and reviewing data. Marijuana lab directors also must ensure that their facility is in compliance with state and federal laws and regulations.
Marijuana lab directors operate and maintain basic lab equipment, including balances, centrifuges and microscopes, as well as equipment more specific to the cannabis industry, like extraction machinery and vacuum ovens. Additionally, they usually fulfill basic management duties, like developing operating procedures, setting production schedules and tracking inventory, in addition to hiring and training personnel.
|Educational Requirements||Bachelor's degree|
|Job Skills||Management, communication and organizational skills, ability to multi-task, ability to operate various lab machinery, knowledge of safety practices|
|Median Salary (2020)*||$98,434 (for all laboratory directors)|
Marijuana lab directors typically need at least a bachelor's degree in chemistry, food science or a related laboratory science field. Students in these programs might take courses and/or labs in organic chemistry, inorganic chemistry, physical chemistry, biochemistry and analytical chemistry, in addition to fulfilling math and physics requirements.
Marijuana lab directors must be at least 21 years old to work in the cannabis industry. Depending on where they're employed, marijuana lab directors also might need to obtain a worker permit or otherwise register with their state. This often requires passing a criminal background check.
Marijuana lab directors must have well-developed management and verbal communication skills to guide their team of laboratory workers. They also need strong written communication skills to be able to document operating procedures, training records and lab standards, in addition to maintaining inventory of materials used in the lab.
Marijuana lab directors must be extremely familiar with extraction machinery, vacuum ovens and hot plates, as well as pipettes, pumps and liquid chromatography systems. Because they juggle many responsibilities, including overseeing employees, conducting extractions, and performing QA/QC duties, marijuana lab directors need excellent organizational skills and the ability to multitask.
Additionally, marijuana lab directors need to have knowledge of health and safety practices related to lab work. This includes knowing how to properly handle, store and dispose of hazardous substances.
Career Outlook and Salary
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics doesn't have career outlook information specific to marijuana lab directors. However, as the cannabis industry continues to grow (30 states and the District of Columbia had legalized medical and/or recreational marijuana as of March 2018), it's realistic to assume that jobs for marijuana lab directors will grow as well.
Salary figures specific to marijuana lab directors also aren't available, but the employment website Glassdoor.com reported that lab directors in general earned an average annual salary of $98,434 as of May 2020.
People who are interested in work as a marijuana lab director also might want to learn about these jobs in the marijuana industry: