Beyond the counterculture: the emerging psychedelic workforce 

psychedelic workforce

In a world where the search for mass mental wellness is becoming ever more desperate, a quiet but powerful revolution is underway.

The resurgence of interest in psychedelics – a topic that once echoed mostly in the halls of counterculture – is mobilizing a global workforce to usher in a new era of healing. Perhaps this is the most significant psychedelic movement since the 1960s, with people from all walks of life and professional backgrounds are eagerly getting involved.

RELATED: This Ivy League school is going all in on psychedelics

While many are rediscovering or finding psychedelics for the first time, we’ve been deeply involved in the psychedelic world for a relatively long time. Our media platform, Psychedelics Today, reaches around 2.2 million people annually (maybe you’ve heard our Psychedelics Today podcast?), and we’ve trained over 12,000 people through our education platform, the Psychedelic Education Center. Because of this, we thought we had a pretty good understanding of who is occupying the psychedelic ecosystem.

But our world is growing remarkably fast. From doctors and researchers to marketers and product designers, it’s become clear: psychedelics are no longer counterculture.

As evidenced in the cannabis industry over the last decade or so, people are realizing there’s real potential in psychedelics. Not just healing potential, but social, political, and economic potential. Everyone has seen the headlines about new research proving psychedelics’ efficacy for ailments of all kinds; celebrities are coming out of the psychedelic closet almost daily; cries for regulatory reform are being heard ’round the globe; and big pharma can’t wait to get a piece of the psilocybin-flavored pie.

And as more people seek training that can help them prepare to enter the movement with the psychedelic literacy required to take jobs and build businesses in the industry, we’ve been wondering: who will make up the future psychedelic workforce, how are people building their careers, and how will they serve businesses, clients, and communities?

So, we decided to ask them. Over 2022 and 2023, we surveyed current students and past graduates of our Vital program, which, over 12 months of intensive study, prepares people to embark on a fulfilling career in psychedelics. We packaged our results in a 24-page data report, titled “The Emerging Psychedelic Workforce.”

Here’s some of what we learned.

Transcending Traditional Roles

Not surprisingly, results suggest that the psychedelic field is being built by people in a variety of roles. While doctors and therapists are forming the backbone of the clinical care model, many are stepping into the industry in roles that don’t directly work with clients. Over 50% of respondents are interested in working in areas beyond facilitation and therapy, including media, academia, biotech, cultivation, marketing, and finance. This variety speaks to the multidimensional nature of psychedelics in 2023 – building a new industry from the ground up will require more – much more – than just administering psychedelic substances and trip-sitting.

psychedelic workforce field
Several roles exist in the emerging psychedelics field. Photo: Psychedelics Today

Education Across the Spectrum

One of the most striking revelations is the presence of education at all levels. While a significant portion of those surveyed hold bachelor’s degrees or higher, an inspiring 20% come from varied educational backgrounds, including associate degrees, high school diplomas, or other non-traditional educational paths – including the underground. These results highlight an urgent demand by people of all education levels to become psychedelically literate, and for comprehensive and standardized training that prioritizes safety, ethical practices, and a deeper understanding of psychedelic experiences. For us, creating a common language and understanding of psychedelic experiences is crucial for ALL people who want to work in psychedelics – not just those with letters behind their names.

Diversity: The Core of a New Workforce

The psychedelic workforce appears to be forming with diversity as one of its core characteristics. Results suggest a significant representation of women (67.5%), while over a third of respondents identify with sexual orientations other than heterosexual (33.6%), and over a third (33.6%) identify as having non-white ethnicities. It seems as if the industry is breaking gender norms and may offer a safe space for marginalized people. But it’s crucial we don’t stop to pat ourselves on the back yet; it’s essential we continue to nurture opportunities for diversity among professionals and foster an inclusive environment, so psychedelic work and access isn’t limited to the wealthy and white among us.

Communities of Professional Engagement

More good news: results suggest not only is the psychedelic workforce diverse, but professionals are also committed to serving diverse communities. Respondents (who were allowed to choose multiple responses) indicated a strong drive to provide psychedelic services and support for communities and groups who often have difficulty accessing treatments beyond basic medical care. 81.4% plan to work with unspecified marginalized groups; 79.4% plan to work with people in lower income brackets; 66% plan to serve the BIPOC community; another 66% are committed to working with the LGBTQIA+ community; and 61.9% focus on veterans and first responders. This indicates people working in psychedelics are taking a holistic and inclusive approach that goes beyond traditional mental health paradigms, aiming to provide healing and support to those who might benefit from psychedelics the most.

RELATED: New book answers all your blooming questions about magic mushrooms

Psychedelic Experience and Passion as a Prerequisite

While admitting to taking drugs will kick candidates out of the running for many roles, experience with non-ordinary states is an asset in the psychedelic field. In fact, it’s a core component of our 12-month training program. We believe that to work knowledgeably in the field, a first-hand understanding of the power of psychedelics is non-negotiable. Of those surveyed, 82.4% have successfully used psychedelics or holotropic states of consciousness to help combat a condition, disability, illness, or trauma. Where motivations are concerned: 85% are driven by a desire to contribute to global healing; 77.9% are influenced by narratives from others or new scientific findings; and 50.4% have been inspired by positive outcomes seen in family and friends.

A Bright Future Awaits

As we reflect on the findings and look ahead, we now see more than just a burgeoning field – we see an opportunity for societal transformation. The psychedelic movement is truly just beginning, and it will be shaped by those bold enough to venture into truly uncharted territory. It’s a call to healers, thinkers, innovators, and creatives to come together and find a new way forward, as traditional paradigms continue to fail, confidence in established systems continues to erode, and people demand better treatments for mental health and betterment.

We invite you to download our new report, “The Emerging Psychedelic Workforce” for free and challenge you to envision your place in the movement. And if you need a starting line, the next cohort of Vital, our 12-month psychedelic training program, begins in January – and there’s a place for you there, too.

This article was submitted by a guest contributor to GreenState. The statements within do not necessarily reflect the opinions of GreenState, Hearst, or its subsidiaries. The author is solely responsible for the content.

Kyle Buller and Joe Moore Kyle Buller is the co-founder & vice president of education & training at Psychedelics Today. Kyle earned his M.S. in clinical mental health counseling with an emphasis in somatic psychology from Prescott College. Joe Moore is the CEO & co-founder of Psychedelics Today. Joe co-founded Psychedelics Today in 2016 with his business partner Kyle Buller. As CEO, Joe has created one of the world's best known psychedelic podcasts, blogs and training platforms.