Now that the weed industry is becoming, you know, a little more “professionalized” here in the US, more and more people are looking to get hooked up with a high-paying career in the cannabis sector. As the majority of applicants are finding out, however, it’s not easy to get a job in the marijuana industry.
As such, thousands of applicants are looking for ways to beef up their resume in the hopes of increasing their appeal to would-be employers. And the common assumption when it comes to boosting qualification for a certain job description? Go to school and get certified for it, of course.
Online searches for the best marijuana schools have spiked in recent years, and it’s no secret as to why: by most estimations, the North American legal cannabis market will be worth around $50 billion by 2027. People are wanting to get in on this epic cash flow, and they’re wanting to get in on it early.
The real question, of course, is whether or not an online marijuana certification program will really help you get a job in the industry.
In this article, we set out to answer this question by reviewing the best online cannabis education programs, and also by considering feedback from people who have already taken the courses.
Enjoy, and best of luck.
The 5 Best Online Cannabis Education Schools for 2018/2019
[Be advised that the following information is opinion-based only. Based on our research, the following institutions are the most popular online marijuana schools in the U.S.)
#1) Oaksterdam University
Go on Google and search for the “best online marijuana schools,” and Oaksterdam University is sure to pop up as one of the first results. Founded in 2007, the Oakland, California-based institution is the self-proclaimed “first cannabis college in the US,” with “educational roots dating back to 1995.” Most of their courses are centered around growing and professional cannabis horticulture, and they offer classes both online and in-person. Here’s a rundown of their prices and online selections:
REVIEW OF OAKSTERDAM UNIVERSITY ONLINE MARIJUANA SCHOOL
|Courses Offered||Indoor Cannabis Horticulture|
|Course length||180 days allowed for completion (35 separate lessons, 9 quizzes)|
PROS of Oaksterdam University:
- “I had a blast, I loved it. And while I knew a lot, I still learned things. There is not just one way of doing anything… I learned a lot while I was there.”
- “[I don’t care] how much information you can find online, you do NOT have access to actually have hands-on [experiences with] all phases of the plant – every student learns how to germinate, and [perform] cloning, cutting clones off a mother, planting them, and [cutting] a new harvest…”
- “If you learn better being “taught” [rather than teaching yourself online], then Oaksterdam is probably the best place to go.”
- “I graduated from the second class back in 2007. I learned a few new tricks. I have had growing experience so it was not to hard to finish.”
CONS of Oaksterdam University:
- “I would suggest just buying older used horticulture textbooks online and reading those…”
- “If you are a seasoned grower with lots of time and experience I don’t think the initial class will be worth your time … [that said] if you [don’t have] at least 3 years of grows under your belt, you will learn something.”
- “I know someone who took their 6-week course. Best they got out of it was networking connections really.”
#2) Cannabis Training University (CTU)
Cannabis Training University has a much more extensive course selection than Oaksterdam University, which really only offers the Horticulture Certification in terms of online options. They also appear to be a great value in terms of price, offering a complete “Master of Marijuana Certificate” for $249 that includes 7 individual courses.
REVIEW OF CANNABIS TRAINING UNIVERSITY ONLINE MARIJUANA SCHOOL
|REVIEW||CANNABIS TRAINING UNIVERSITY|
|Course length||Students can work at their own pace, but will have up to 1 year (365 days) to complete all 7 courses for the “Master of Marijuana” certificate|
|Price||$349 (but frequently “goes on sale” for $249)|
PROS of Cannabis Training University:
- “I went to Cannabis Training University this year and it was excellent. Extremely informative and affordable. I landed a cannabis job as a budtender with the CTU credentials and CTU is widely respected in the cannabis industry.”
- “The program at CTU had very well done videos and many ebooks, along with quizzed and a very good exam. I was impressed with the amount of effort put into it and the low price they charged.”
CONS of Cannabis Training University:
- “The knowledge you gain is useful, but that degree/certificate might not even be accepted in most places. IMO I’d hold out for a more official and widely accepted institution [that offers] degrees.”
- “If you show up in a legal state fresh off the bus and go to a dispensary looking for a job, they aren’t going to care that you took some $300 course on the internet…”
- “CTU is an online-only program with no hands-on training.”
- “A certificate from a Cannabis College like CTU is definitely nice to have, but not necessarily worth it, depending on what state you’re in…”
#3) Clover Leaf University
As the oldest certification-issuing cannabis educational institution in Colorado, Clover Leaf University prides itself on being the first accredited university to be “approved, regulated and licensed by the Colorado Department of Higher Education’s Private Occupational School Board.”
We’re not really sure what this means exactly, but they certainly seem to offer an expansive selection of courses and certifications, ranging from state-specific training programs and workshops to cannabis industry job training, standalone classes, and seminars on growing and cultivation.
Basically, you can choose which specific field you want to get your certification(s) in, which is nice as this allows you to build your resume and learning experiences according to your own personal career preferences.
*[It does not appear that Clover Leaf University currently offers online classes, though they claim that their online platform “will be completed and launched soon.” In-person course and seminar certifications can be completed at the university’s primary campus in Denver, but they also offer seminars and certificate training at various locations and cities around the country].
REVIEW OF CLOVER LEAF UNIVERSITY MARIJUANA SCHOOL
|REVIEW||CLOVER LEAF UNIVERSITY|
|Courses Offered||Huge selection of courses and seminars available, each of which offers a separate certification. (Browse the complete course catalog for all current offerings).|
|Course length||Most certifications are 16-hours and consist of four separate lecture courses (each lecture is 4-hours).|
|Price||$299 to $499 for an individual course certification (prices vary according to which course you take)|
PROS of CLOVER LEAF UNIVERSITY:
- “Though these universities generally offer no cannabis-specific certification, Denver’s Clover Leaf University certainly does.” -PotGuide.com
- “They are approved by the Division of Private Occupational Schools, so yes, they are approved to operate in the state of Colorado as a school.” -Lorna Candler, Colorado Department of Higher Education
CONS of CLOVER LEAF UNIVERSITY:
- No online courses currently available
#4) Trichome Institute
The Trichome Institute is another online cannabis school that operates out of Denver, though they also offer classes in Portland, Oregon. They only offer three different course certifications (Cannabis Product and Sales Training, Interpening, and Responsible Vendor), but what they lack in overall selection they seem to make up for by keeping up to date with all the latest technology and cannabis-centric research. (Also, if you’re wondering what “interpening” is, it’s apparently a professional technique used to “identify, understand and grade cannabis quality by interpreting the plant’s terpenes and flower structure”).
*[As of right now the Cannabis Product and Sales Training (CPST) course is the only certification that is available online. The Responsible Vendor (RV) and Interpening courses can be taken in either Denver, CO or Portland, OR].
REVIEW OF TRICHOME INSTITUTE ONLINE MARIJUANA SCHOOL
PROS of the Trichome Institute:
- “I have a couple friends who tired their Level-1 (Interpening) class and said it was well worth the fee…”
- Can complete a certification in as little as one day
CONS of the Trichome Institute:
- Not a massive selection of programs/certifications/courses to choose from
#5) THC University
If you’re a complete cannabis rookie that doesn’t have the first clue about marijuana, THC University might be your cheapest option to gain some quality information, but we wouldn’t expect it to be ultra-impressive to an employer that’s looking over a resume. They offer 8 separate certificate programs, and also offer a nice pricing option that allows you to complete as many certificates as you’d like over the space of 1 month, 3-months, 6-months, or a year.
REVIEW OF THC UNIVERSITY ONLINE MARIJUANA SCHOOL
|Course length||Students work at their own pace. Depending on the pricing option you choose, courses will be available for periods of:
PROS of THC UNIVERSITY:
- “The great thing about THC University is they have partnered with some of the most respected names in the industry. If you say you took a growing course from Jorge Cervantes, a prospective employer will know for sure that you possess the minimum knowledge to start from.” -CannaInsider.com
- “While Jorge Cervantes is a very well-respected grower in the cannabis community, other teachers at THC University are equally well-respected including Max Montrose who teaches interpening.”
CONS of THC UNIVERSITY:
- “I tried the 3-day trial, info was super basic and some outdated (states legalization info outdated). Wouldn’t hurt to try the trial, but I would cancel afterwards.”
- “The website makes it seem like it’s a good basic introduction to growing and business. I can’t imagine that you will be getting much more than access to some online content for $50/month though.”
Will an Online Cannabis Education Certificate Increase Your Chances of Getting a Job?
Generally speaking, it’s always wise to take advantage of an opportunity to increase your education. This rings true whether you’re talking about marijuana, algebra, European history, classical literature, or whatever.
However, before you jump online and dish out your credit card info to one of the above institutions, be advised that a “Cannabis Certificate” from an online university – even something like a Master Grower Certification online – likely won’t be all that impressive to a potential employer.
One anonymous Reddit user, for instance, claims that “pretty much all cannabis “trade schools” are a joke to employers in the industry … any certificate you get from one of [these] places isn’t worth the paper it’s written on.”
That’s surely an over-the-top exaggeration, but it’s likely that the general sentiment is pretty accurate.
All things considered, an employer probably isn’t going to base his or her hiring decision on whether an applicant has an online certificate in “Cannabis Responsible Vendor Safety Training.”
As is the case with most fields, what employers would much rather see is an applicant who has a wealth of hands-on experience; whether this be as a previous industry employee, an intern, or even a volunteer at a seasonal grow farm.
With the increasing legality of medical and recreational marijuana across the U.S., there will be hundreds – if not thousands – of new dispensaries popping up in the coming years. As such, budtender jobs will surely be in high demand in virtually every state.
However, rather than a certificate that you can get for a couple hundred dollars online, what employers will most likely be looking for is folks with previous sales experience, or of course, previous experience of some capacity in the marijuana sector.
According to a recent article on Forbes online, companies will be searching for “savvy sharks to stand behind the counter and sell the heck out of as much cannabis as humanly possible.” We could be completely wrong, but this doesn’t sound like something that a 2-hour online course will be able to teach you.
Simply put, you’ll likely be much better off introducing yourself in-person to a would-be employer – and showing off your great personality and positive demeanor – rather than relying on a ‘Master Cannabis Certificate’ from an online institution to land you a good job.
That said, bachelor’s (or graduate-level) degrees in either business or natural science (biology, chemistry, botany, horticulture, etc) will certainly be appealing to most employers, so keep that in mind before you go and spend hundreds (or thousands) of dollars on an online certificate.
Final Thoughts on the Best Online Cannabis Education Schools
To summarize, if you’ve been thinking about going back to school to get a “marijuana education” that’ll help land you a job in the cannabis industry, be advised that a certificate – even one from the best online cannabis schools like the ones reviewed above – will likely not be all that impressive to a potential employer.
We can’t imagine that it would hurt your resume or application in any way, but unless it’s combined with some level of hands-on experience or previous industry-related experience, we wouldn’t expect it to be the deciding factor when it comes to landing a quality career (or even a part-time job) in the marijuana industry.
That said, the material offered at most of these institutions is surely top-notch, as many of the courses have been designed (and/or taught) by industry legends like Jorge Cervantes and Ed Rosenthal.
If you’re a complete cannabis newbie and don’t the difference between a trichome and a terpene, they’d surely be a great option that would provide you with solid foundational knowledge in the field. Just don’t expect it to land you your dream career.