ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – Millions of dollars each month pass through New Mexico’s cannabis businesses. So, how do you get in on the action? The traditional way is by slowly building experience, but the University of New Mexico (UNM) Continuing Education offers a certificate program to jump-start a career.

“There are so many myths and just bad information out there about cannabis, so we said, ‘We’ve got to have programs. We’ve got to have solid education if we’re going to really help these people succeed’,” Audrey Arnold, the executive director of UNM Continuing Education, told KRQE News 13. “That was the impetus for us.”

With the idea of building course offerings for cannabis, UNM Continuing Education paired with Green Flower, an online cannabis training platform, to create six-month certificate programs in cannabis agriculture, cannabis business, cannabis healthcare, and cannabis regulatory compliance. Each certificate program is online, and the advertised price is nearly $3,000 per program, with the next cycle starting this November.

Arnold says they have already enrolled around 800 people from all walks of life in the certificate programs. “These folks are serious. They’re really working to get their education,” Arnold says.

But some in the industry say certificates aren’t necessary. Alfred Kahsin, an assistant manager at The Grass Station Dispensary, says you can build experience just by working in the industry.

“I had, like, zero experience getting started, and this was well before they had any of the certifications or anything that they’re offering now,” Kahsin says. “I think as long as you have that passion, that motivation to learn more aspects of it [you can succeed]. Like, after my first bud tending job, I assisted with manufacturing, and then I assisted with extraction, and then with the growing, and I really wanted to get into every aspect of it.”

That hands-on, no-certificate training allowed Kahsin to build a good resume within the industry. “As long as you just have a good comprehension for what’s going on, that’s just as valuable in my opinion as these certificates,” Kahsin says. “If you don’t have $2,500 to $3,000 to throw down [on an education], but you do have a lot of relevant experience, I guarantee any employer will see that relevant experience.”

But certificates can be a good addition to your resume, Kahsin says. And the knowledge you get from a certificate can be particularly helpful if your goal is to launch a business, Kahsin adds.

“Any business courses with cannabis tied in definitely make a huge difference,” Kahsin says. “That would have been super helpful just to kind of understand the industry a little better.”

UNM’s Continuing Education certificate program offers that, Audrey Arnold says. “You’ll walk away [from the program] with a great deal of tools, no matter which area you go in,” Arnold says. “In the business track, you’ll learn about business plans, you will learn about marketing, you will craft your own marketing plan.” And, of course, you’ll learn about the financial side of a cannabis business.

The online programs are self-paced, but Arnold says that doesn’t necessarily mean they’re a breeze. There are homework assignments to turn in as you go through the coursework.

For people interested in the certificates, Arnold recognizes that they are not free and it’s difficult to cover costs, especially when starting a business or a job in a new industry. But she says: “It’s an investment in yourself, and it’s an investment in your business.” And the school does offer a financing plan.

For those who want to try to enter the industry without going to class, Kahsin has this advice: “Don’t be shy if you don’t have experience because anyone can learn. And as long as you have that attitude and as long as you have that desire to really be in the space, I think you’ll make it.”