Vital report explores employment in the psychedelics industry

Psychedelics Today recently surveyed students and graduates of its 12-month intensive professional psychedelic certification programme, Vital, publishing its findings in The Emerging Psychedelic Workforce report.

Aiming to understand more about the emerging workforce, Psychedelics Today spoke to 130 students and graduates of its Vital course about how they are building their psychedelic careers.

With the nascent psychedelics industry seeing rapid progress, the report highlights the need for a knowledgeable workforce of people with a variety of skills — not just doctors and therapists.

To succeed, the industry will need to establish “a racially, economically, and culturally diverse workforce that can service a broad spectrum of communities,” states the report. 

This ecosystem is already on its way to being established, with the report finding that 50.4% of the survey respondents said they are interested in working in areas beyond facilitation and therapy, including media, academia, biotech, cultivation, marketing and finance.

Further key findings from the report include: 47% of students are not switching careers but instead are incorporating psychedelics into their current careers; 87.6% have been influenced to do so by their own positive experiences with psychedelics; and, 98.3% of respondents indicated that making money is not a primary motivation to enter the field.

David Drapkin, Director of Education at Psychedelics Today, discussed the findings, emphasising the growth of the industry and highlighting the significance of personal experience and motivations for entering the field, as well as the importance of education and awareness.

“The report shows that our future workforce is going to have a lot of diversity on multiple levels including racial and ethnic diversity and LGBTQ representation,” said Drapkin.

It also revealed that over half of the current psychedelic workforce – 67% – are women, 2.5% are non-binary and 1.7% are transgender, demonstrating the inclusivity and progressive nature of the industry. 

The report reads: “The psychedelic field’s workforce appears to be breaking some traditional gender norms, with a strong female presence complemented by diverse gender identities. This inclusivity and diversity might shape the field’s progression and outcomes in unique ways, and lead to a richer pool of ideas, methods, and approaches to challenges.”

Further findings include a 66% BIPOC representation in the industry, who say they aim to serve their community, indicating a dedication to addressing racial and ethnic disparities.

“That looks to me like a positive development for those communities and the kinds of communities that are often underrepresented in mental health care,” Drapkin added.

As different countries have different regulations around psychedelics and different requirements around licensure, Drapkin highlighted that there is also a need to open the industry up to both licensed and unlicensed professionals.

“We’re seeing that a lot of the folks entering the psychedelic workforce are mid-career. They’ve had seasoned careers already and half of them are self-employed. Half of them also intend to build psychedelics into their existing career. So, they are already in quite a good place with a career and want to get a depth of education, learning and community to enable them to take the next step,” he said.

“Those are the folks in the real world that are going to be a really big part of the workforce. When you think about that and the number of people that are going to be required for centres, clinics, integration support, and more, there are currently not enough licensed professionals to do that. 

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“We simply have to be honest about that. And that’s why Vital is going to be serving all of those people who have to be part of scaling out of the psychedelic ecosystem.”

Drapkin also emphasised that with over 90% of people surveyed saying they had their own personal experience with psychedelics, the workforce “knows how psychedelics feel”, as well as the benefits of psychedelic medicine.

“I think our community is also really aware of the state of affairs that we’re in globally around trauma, depression, anxiety, suicidality, and addictions. We know a lot of students in the workforce know that psychedelics could be a game changer for mental health. 

“Because of those two factors, I believe that folks entering the psychedelic workforce are more motivated to maximise impacts on local communities and to be part of this new paradigm of helping people more effectively than the status quo. 

“That’s something we have really prioritised when interviewing students for the Vital course. We’re looking for those that are working in the community, maybe involved in policy work, and working with marginalised people, because we know that this will maximise health impacts by reducing health inequalities on the ground.

“I’d say people entering the psychedelic workforce are still the pioneers. It still is early days and career opportunities are slowly starting to expand and open up. If and when MDMA gets medicalised and commercialised this could have a huge impact on not just practitioners, but the entire industry when it comes to mental health and wellness – the industry is going to be revolutionised. 

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“I think people are aware that getting ready now is best because it’s happening now in places, like Oregon, Colorado and Australia. We’ve got quite a lot of students coming from those places who can do the work right now and are already legally able to work.”

To help improve access to psychedelic education and champion diversity in the industry, Vital has established a diversity fund and scholarship programme which has provided funding of $700,000 over the last two cohorts of its scholarship awards.

To read the full report please visit: 

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