Beyond Horticulture Degrees | Qualifications for a Cannabis Master Grower

cannabis master grower

The commercial cannabis industry is trending toward hiring Master Growers with degrees in Horticulture or Botany and with work experience in greenhouses producing flowers or food. These degrees and work experience provide a good background for potential Master Grower candidates for cannabis facilities. However, without a solid understanding of the specific nature of the cannabis plant, such hires tend not to be as successful as hoped.

Conversely, a person with many years of cannabis growing experience, but no formal training, may not have the skills needed to grow cannabis on a large commercial scale. The good news is that without a degree and commercial growing experience, it is still possible to be a viable hiring option for a commercial cannabis facility.

Cannabis Master Grower Qualifications

Growers with Horticulture or Botany degrees and experience in commercial greenhouse or indoor settings unrelated to cannabis need to learn about the specific growing needs of the cannabis plant. While traditional food or flower growing processes provide a base for your skills and knowledge, cannabis has it’s own set of requirements for growth. It’s important for potential Master Grower candidates to learn about:

  • Specific light cycle needs
  • Nutrient and plant feeding schedules
  • CO2 enrichment
  • Ideal growing conditions
  • Temperature and humidity
  • Grow methods and mediums

Grower candidates without degrees and commercial growing experience need to have a comprehensive understanding of the cannabis plant, mold/mildew/pest prevention, and propagation fundamentals. Learning about these specific factors that influence the growth of the cannabis plant are essential for individuals hoping to become Master Growers in the industry.

While either degrees or real world cannabis experience are important, what is truly essential for a successful Master Grower is embracing the arduous work involved in growing plants, placing significant importance on the cleanliness of the grow environment, skills to manage people and manage the perpetual cannabis grow cycle in the most efficient manner.

Degrees in either Botany or Horticulture have their place in the cannabis industry and provide many growers with the basic skills necessary to grow on a commercial scale. Without a degree or experience growing in a commercial setting, potential Master Grower candidates can improve their chances of being hired by learning about the specifics of marijuana cultivation and honing their managerial skills. In depth knowledge of the plant, the ability to organize the propagation and cultivation of cannabis on a large scale, and quality people management skills are essential for potential Master Grower candidates.

Whole Plant Technologies offers grower training and placement options within the commercial cannabis industry. Contact Whole Plant for more information about our grower training and placement programs.

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  • Roger on January 8, 2017 at 5:35 pm Reply

    I want to grow 50 cannabis plants. I need to know how much space I need and how many lights I need for 50 plants and the best CO2 set up. It will be grown indoors under 600 watt HPS

    • Abbie Testaberg on January 8, 2017 at 8:24 pm


      Thank you for the inquiry. Using our system, you could grow 50-100 plants using 4-8 trays in 200-500 square feet of grow space. If you wanted to grow larger plants using slightly more time, you may want to consider more trays with less plants in each tray.

      An 8 tray system can yield 72-96lbs per year and do so 30% more profitably than a soil or drip irrigation system.

      We have sent you an email, too.

      Thank you!

  • Memori Haynes on April 26, 2017 at 5:24 pm Reply

    My son is 16 (17 in November). He wants to be a pot farmer & go into saling for businesses & medical reasons. He has been in & out of school, therefore has all his classes on line but in a classroom. He was told by a teacher that he just needs to get his GED next year & start working on college. What are the requirements to get his college education/degree in botany/business? To even get in?

    • Abbie Testaberg on September 10, 2017 at 2:51 am

      We suggest contacting your area tech school and/or university and speak with an admissions adviser – they are best equipped to help you with what he needs to get into an appropriate school and area of study.

  • SeVern Lee Ashes II on June 2, 2017 at 6:07 pm Reply

    I have aspirations to one day become a master grower, unfortunately, because of my location it is very hard to talk about these things without running the risk of being flagged as a drug dealer. If anyone has any information (books, classes, personal exp. Etc.) Please feel free to contact me and help me take proper steps to a bright future. Thank you!

    • Abbie Testaberg on September 10, 2017 at 2:49 am

      Consider tech school or university in Botany, Horticulture, Agriculture, Controlled Environment Agriculture…Also, take a look at books by Ed Rosenthal and Jorge Cervantes for intro to growing reading materials.

    • Payton on August 14, 2019 at 4:27 pm

      Yeah I’ve been pretty weary about asking my college counselor about marijuana classes… I live in tx.

  • TY on July 11, 2017 at 7:07 pm Reply

    I would like to learn more about the Cannabis industry. I hope to someday own my own farm, I have zero experience in the growing industry but I am very eager to learn. I have even considered going to college to study Botany and Business Management, are there any schools, training programs or classes you would suggest?

    • Abbie Testaberg on September 10, 2017 at 2:44 am

      There are tech-school and university options. More schools are offering classes on cannabis. It is very dependent on where you are located. Feel free to contact us at We should have our training facility up and running in about nine months!

  • Colton Bailey on September 6, 2017 at 6:28 am Reply

    Is there a specific Degree that major buisnesses are looking for in a master grower

    • Abbie Testaberg on September 10, 2017 at 2:30 am

      Degrees in Botany, Horticulture, and/or Agriculture tend to be more highly regarded for growers. Controlled Environment Agriculture for indoor/greenhouse.

  • Justin Quarterman on November 27, 2017 at 10:37 pm Reply

    I plan on starting an indoor grow. The building size is a little over 13,000 sq ft. I was wondering should I create 3 rooms at the about 3200 sq ft for my grow and about how many lights would you say I would need for this operation.

    • Abbie Testaberg on October 13, 2019 at 10:35 pm

      Many factors go into planning out cultivation facilities. Electric load capacity, HVAC design, drying and/or processing needs. Number of lights depends on type and vertical grow layers.

  • Javen on December 31, 2017 at 6:43 pm Reply

    Hi, I’m 22 and I have taken 2 and a half years in horticulture production, but recently I decided to take a break from college because I felt like I was not learning the right things to be a successful Master Grower. So basically I’m wondering if I should get back in college and get my degree or self teach myself on growing marijuana specifically then try and get into a dispensary or farm

    • Abbie Testaberg on October 13, 2019 at 10:19 pm

      Finding a school in a legal state so that you can attend school and work part time in the cannabis community may be a great solution!

  • Stephen Forest on March 21, 2018 at 11:08 am Reply

    My partner and I are currently researching the requirements to become a licensed cannabis producer on a rural piece of property that we own.
    I am wondering what the requirements for the QA person are in regards to training/ education. Is there a preferred market certification in regards to the licensing process?

    • Abbie Testaberg on October 13, 2019 at 10:16 pm

      QA position requirements are state-specific and usually outlined in the regulations, or if you are in Canada – Health Canada has the requirements listed.

  • Nichole on June 28, 2018 at 8:12 pm Reply

    I would like to know what do you think about these online classes that offer certificate in the weed growing do you think they are legit An needed to work or be in the industry period

    • Abbie Testaberg on October 13, 2019 at 4:43 pm

      It depends on the program. Ask for their data on how many graduates/certificate holders are working in the cannabis community. If the program can not offer data on their success rates, keep looking!

  • Daniel on August 7, 2018 at 5:08 pm Reply

    I plan on attending a University where I live for at the very least two more years. I plan on going into the Cannabis industry as a grower. I plan to take an online program through Cannabis Training University. However, while I do that I wanted to do college courses that directly are related. Should I take business along with horticulture and Botany? What courses do you recommend I take?

    • Abbie Testaberg on October 13, 2019 at 4:42 pm

      Yes, you are on a good track: Horticulture, Botany, Business, as well as Chemistry – all good options!

  • spencer on May 20, 2019 at 5:47 pm Reply

    Is it a must have degree or would they hire someone with a lot of knowlege to the spceific job as a grower

    • Abbie Testaberg on October 13, 2019 at 4:39 pm

      Still not a “must.” An experienced grower with outside consistent work experience and/or references are often looked at as well.

  • bailey on May 20, 2019 at 5:48 pm Reply

    Is it a must have degree or would they hire someone with a lot of knowlege to the spceific job as a grower

    • Abbie Testaberg on October 13, 2019 at 4:39 pm

      Still not a “must.” An experienced grower with outside consistent work experience and/or references are often looked at as well.

  • sean voss on July 7, 2019 at 12:17 am Reply

    Hey, I am 26 and I have a bachelor’s degree in business management and a degree in UX design. However, I want to one day become a master grower and myself. I have a deep passion for marijuana as a medicine as it has helped me overcome anxiety and other related problems. Is there a program you know of to help me with this career change?

    • Abbie Testaberg on October 13, 2019 at 4:37 pm

      University of Maryland School of Pharmacy: master’s degree in medical cannabis science and therapeutics.
      University of the Sciences in Philadelphia: four courses MBA option cannabis industry.
      McGill University: graduate degree in cannabis production.
      Northern Michigan University: Medicinal Plant Chemistry.
      Minot State University: Medicinal Plant Chemistry.
      Clark University: graduate certificate in regulatory affairs for cannabis control.
      Stockton University: Minor in Cannabis Studies.
      SUNY Morrisville: Minor in Cannabis Studies.
      Colorado State University Pueblo: Minor in Cannabis Studies.

      There are some schools with individual classes…science, journalism, law, business. Above is not exhaustive, but a good start!

  • en on July 18, 2019 at 7:34 am Reply

    what is better regarded: botany or horticulture? i am interested in the genetics and would like to create better, targeted strains. would you say botany is the way to go? if i went with botany, would i accumulate the same practical, applied knowledge as horticulture? i guess i am asking is botany more likely to cover aspects of horticulture than horticulture is to botany?

    • Abbie Testaberg on October 13, 2019 at 4:19 pm

      This often depends on the institution you are attending. Many Botany and Horticulture programs have various emphasis tracks. Horticulture is often a more “applied science” vs. Botany often being a “research science.” If you are interested in propagation and cultivation you may want to consider Horticulture. If you are interested in strictly breeding, perhaps Botany. Many programs merge the two.

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