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What is an Organic Extraction Technician?
Organic extraction technicians use extraction and refining techniques to produce cannabis extracts for medical and recreational use. More specifically, they use solvents (including carbon dioxide, ethanol and butane), heat and pressure to turn marijuana plant matter into cannabis concentrates, which are then refined to ensure purity. Organic extraction technicians also collect samples for potency testing and record resulting data, and they might weigh, package and batch track cannabis products. Additionally, they must ensure that the lab equipment and lab facility where they work are clean and otherwise well maintained. Organic extraction technicians often work for medical marijuana dispensaries.
As with other workers in the cannabis industry, extraction technicians must be at least 21 years of age and attain any necessary licensing or registration from the state where they work. For example, in Illinois, organic extraction technicians must hold an agent card from the state Department of Financial and Professional Regulation. In addition to filling out an attestation form, applicants for an agent card must pass a criminal background check.
|Educational Requirements||Range from high school diploma to Ph.D.|
|Job Skills||Knowledge of solvent extraction methods, laboratory skills, ability to work quickly, attention to detail, ability to work as part of a team and independently, caution|
While some employers might hire prospective extraction technicians with only a high school diploma or associate degree, most prefer candidates who hold at least a bachelor's degree, and some hire those with Ph.D.'s. Applicable majors include biology, chemistry, chemical engineering, laboratory technology or a related field. A program with an emphasis on lab work could prove beneficial.
Because the cannabis industry is relatively new and thus still evolving, organic extraction technicians also need to keep up with changes in extraction techniques. For example, some dispensaries are moving toward solventless extraction instead of methods that use chemical solvents.
Organic extraction technicians should know about various extraction techniques, including carbon dioxide, ethanol and butane, and have strong laboratory skills. They must be able to work quickly while maintaining the integrity of the product, and they must be cautious and follow safety procedures when handling hazardous materials. Organic extraction technicians also must be able to work independently when performing extractions and within a team when working with other lab employees, including bud trimmers and master growers.
Career Outlook and Salary
There are no official career outlook statistics for organic extraction technicians, and job opportunities are currently limited to the 30 states (and the District of Columbia) that have legalized marijuana for medical and/or recreational use. However, as states continue to legalize marijuana, it's reasonable to assume that job prospects for organic extraction technicians will increase.
Likewise, there are no official salary figures for this career. Based on a survey of job listings in April 2018, though, organic extraction technicians often earn around $12-$16 per hour. In 2016, Forbes revealed that skilled extraction technicians with a Ph.D. earned up to $125,000 per year.
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