It’s no secret that the cannabis industry is booming. Fortune reports that there will be 340,000 new jobs in cannabis by 2020. And with that many openings, there’s sure to be an avalanche of applicants. So how do you make yourself stand out? One answer might be cannabis certifications.

A quick Google search of “cannabis certifications” will yield more than 1 million search results. So how do you narrow down which ones are worth looking into? Which ones will give you the most for your money and teach you the things you actually need to know? And will completing any of these before getting hired really set you apart from the rest of the field? We’ve got your answers.

What do cannabis certifications cover?
There are six general areas of knowledge that cannabis certifications cover: growing, cooking (or how to make edibles), dispensary opening, delivery services, law, and medical marijuana. Knowing what area of the cannabis industry you’re looking to enter will be key in deciding what type of certification you should pursue.

Growing certifications cover everything from knowledge of budtending, to the equipment needed, to best growing methods, ways of extracting THC, and practices to avoid. Dispensary and delivery courses help would-be owners and managers understand how to ensure that their business is compliant to laws and state regulations. Legal courses are designed to help suss out the laws surrounding marijuana, ensuring that in-house lawyers are equipped to protect their companies.

Should potential employees already be certified?
More and more dispensaries around the country are requiring their employees to have some sort of cannabis certification. The extra training and stamp of approval from certain organizations are viewed as a great way to set a dispensary apart from the others — a step above the competition. But will becoming certified before you’re hired help you land a job? The answer is a frustrating maybe.

Jeremy Kauffman, who runs a Seattle dispensary, told the Cannabis Training Institute, “If an applicant provided proof of extended education as far as cannabis was concerned, it would definitely demonstrate a drive for knowledge and a desire to succeed. This would put any applicant head and shoulders above the rest.” Other dispensary owners and hiring managers have said that they’re more concerned with an applicant’s customer service skills and practical business skills than with how many certifications they have.

The two roles where it is unequivocally helpful to have a cannabis certification before applying? Growing and budtending. Marijuana plants aren’t things that can just be grown harum-scarum in someone’s backyard. Every strain requires different amounts of light, fertilizer, and water, with different harvesting periods and methods. Additionally, budtenders need to have a deep knowledge of all the strains being sold, as well as the differences between them. Handling customer queries requires a wealth of knowledge that necessitates higher education.

Where to get certified?
Once you’ve decided to get a cannabis certification, the real work begins. There are hundreds of course options to consider — some in-person courses and some online — but how do you know which ones are really going to be worth your time and money? Leafly selected six that they think stand out above the rest. Their number one choice? Oaksterdam University in Oakland, Calif. Opened in 2007, their curriculum is led by some of the industry’s leading professionals and lawyers and is designed for those who are serious about pursuing the top jobs in the market.

But not everyone is seeking to relocate in order to get certified. And with a number of excellent online courses available, it certainly isn’t necessary. For example, THC University offers over 150 class hours and certificates in everything from Growing 101; Washington and Colorado Safety and Regulations; to Marijuana 101. The Trichome Institute specializes in “interpening,” which has been likened to a sommelier course for marijuana. They also offer responsible vendor courses, which are backed by the Colorado Department of Health and Environment. And CloverLeaf University, which is often ranked as the top educational resource and is dedicated to setting the educational standard, offers courses and certifications in all six areas.

Interested in working in cannabis? Search our job board or speak to one of our Executive Recruiters.