When the coronavirus pandemic hit, Brandon Higgs decided it was time to go back to school and pursue a new career. Higgs had worked in the culinary field but had become interested in the budding cannabis industry in Maryland. “I had been looking into training options to get certified,” says Higgs, and he was glad to find a program offered local at Howard Community College (HCC).
Higgs enrolled in the two-course certification series, Dispensary Technician I and II. “Both classes were excellent, and my instructor was outstanding,” he says. “The timing and pace of the classes were perfect. Towards the end of the course, our instructor shared cannabis recruitment websites and insight about the industry and gave us guidance regarding interviews.”
Two scholarships are available for students interested in taking The Dispensary Technician I and II series. The Governor’s Emergency Education Relief (GEER) fund provides scholarships to those who have been impacted by the coronavirus. The Workforce Development Sequence Scholarships (WDSS) provides financial assistance for approved noncredit programs. Higgs applied for and was awarded a GEER scholarship that covered the cost of his tuition.
Recently, Higgs’ instructor invited him back to HCC to talk to a current class of dispensary technician students. “I was impressed with how the class size had grown,” he says. “My class was small—only six of us. The class I spoke to had 20 students.” Higgs shared tips on the dos and don’ts of employment search, what to look for in an employer, and what to know before you interview. “Being up to date on compliance is really important,” he said. “Because the industry is new, standards are updated monthly. You need to be aware and follow the rules.”
Now a post-harvest associate at a multistate cannabis company, Higgs would like to work up to the position of head grower, so he can make decisions about soil types and seeds, and work to improve products. “It’s a really exciting time to join this field,” he says. “The industry is growing quickly. I am telling all my friends to get certified at HCC.”
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