If you love marijuana, perhaps you have been thinking about becoming a budtender. After all, it is arguably the dream job for the weed aficionado, and now that the industry is set for a boom period, it needs all the qualified staff it can get.
As it happens, the role of budtender is one of the most accessible jobs within the industry. But what does the job entail — and more importantly, how do you gain the necessary qualifications?
What is a Budtender?
One of the exciting things about the role of budtender (obviously a play on the traditional “bartender”), is that it’s a new job in a new, exciting industry. In other words, an individual with budtender training is uniquely skilled as there are relatively few of them on the planet.
As a budtender, you are a professional cannabis expert and work behind the counter of a marijuana dispensary. If you’ve ever been in a dispensary, you’ll realize that you spend about 90% of your time interacting with the budtender. They are passionate about weed, extremely knowledgeable about the products, and genuinely enjoy providing exceptional customer service.
The budtender job description includes an emphasis on people skills. It is deemed to be one of the best roles in the cannabis industry because it enables you to build direct relationships with customers. Contrary to the ‘lazy stoner’ stereotype, a budtender is a talkative, personable, helpful, and hardworking individual. To even gain consideration for the role, you have to either attend budtender school (yeah, that’s really a thing), or complete budtender training online to receive your budtender license; believe it or not, you can’t gain employment without this license.
If you are intent on becoming a budtender, it is essential that you have a real passion for weed. Remember, you are expected to provide customers with detailed information about every single strain on sale at the dispensary. You must listen carefully to a patient’s needs and provide them with recommendations. Although it is impossible to know every last detail about marijuana, budtenders are expected to have full knowledge of the most popular strains and new products such as vaporizers and concentrates.
Although you will receive a lot of training, it is a fact that there will be knowledge gaps when you first start your budtender career. However, dedicated budtenders usually go above and beyond and read far more information than what is required on the course. Knowledge is power, so we recommend doing the following to get the most out of your research:
- Sign up for as many weed industry blogs, newsletters, websites, and mailing lists as possible. There is no such thing as too much information.
- Read books by respected industry authors such as Jorge Cervantes, Julie Holland, Ed Rosenthal, etc.
- Look for cannabis books on recommended reading lists in universities.
- Attend important industry conferences
- Network on popular cannabis social media platforms (like WayofLeaf!)
If you do decide to become a budtender, you’ll need to be able to answer the following questions and have the following knowledge:
- How was every single product on the dispensary’s shelf created? (This includes information on where it was grown and harvested, how the cannabinoids were extracted if you are selling tinctures and capsules, etc).
- An ability to determine the quality of the products.
- What prices your competitors charge for the products.
You will also need all of this information and more if you wish to excel at a job interview. The best budtenders in the U.S. are in tune with the latest trends, and you can follow suit by reading industry blogs and checking out relevant social media profiles (like we mentioned above).
Also, high-quality budtenders will know the answers to advanced questions like:
- What is dewaxed shatter?
- Why is this 37% THC test result untrustworthy?
- What are the differences between CO2 and BHO extraction?
- What strains are winning current competitions such as the Cannabis Cup?
- What are the latest results from medical marijuana studies?
It is also a fact that successful budtenders are outstanding storytellers. They can tell powerful true stories which allow them to connect with customers on a personal level. Each story is relatively short, tailored to each patient, and focuses on how the marijuana product being discussed will have a positive effect on the customer’s life.
For example: “This sativa seriously gave me more energy than three cups of coffee, without the jitters. I used to spend an hour each morning just trying to summon the wherewithal to move. Now, I can wake up, go for a quick run and shower before going to work. It helps me stay energized at work, and I still feel great when I get home…”
However, be advised that you should only recommend products that are genuinely likely to work. You will give your dispensary a bad name if you try and force sales, and in any regard, there is simply no need for fabricated information in the largely “self-promoting” cannabis industry.
Is it Hard to Get Budtender Jobs?
The rapid growth of the cannabis industry means there is likely going to be a surge in available budtender jobs. According to ArcView Market Research, the legal pot industry will create over 400,000 jobs between 2017 and 2021. The best cannabis industry sectors for jobs, in descending order, are projected to be:
- Ancillary Services
- Wholesale Cultivators
- Infused Product Makers
- Testing Labs.
As it happens, the role of budtender is one of the most in-demand positions at present. It is essential for dispensaries to hire qualified and personable budtenders because these employees are the face of the organization, and ultimately provide advice on choosing the right strain and taking the correct dosage, as well as making sure that patients receive the right product safety advice.
Therefore, if you live in a state where weed is legal for medicinal use and Google budtender jobs near me, you should theoretically find a lot of options. This is the case whether you’re looking for budtender jobs in Colorado, budtender jobs in Oregon, or budtender jobs in Los Angeles. You may even have some luck searching for budtender jobs on Craigslist.
However, just because there is an increased need for budtender jobs in places like Portland, it doesn’t mean that dispensaries will hire anyone that walks through their doors. The weed industry is desperate to shed the ‘stoner stereotype’, so you won’t find budtender jobs in Denver if you turn up looking disheveled and stoned.
Instead, prospective employers are looking for the following in budtender candidates:
- Extroverted individuals with excellent people skills.
- Outstanding product knowledge. You must be able to tell customers everything they need to know about edibles, flowers, concentrates, vape oils, and everything in between. It looks terrible if you have to scurry to your manager because you’re unable to answer every second question. Knowledge requirements include information about the dispensary’s products, what certain marijuana strains could do for medical conditions, and up-to-date information on new industry trends.
- A clean-cut appearance. In other words, you must attend your budtender interview dressed as if you’re looking to work in a bank.
- Sobriety – at least during the interview!
- Organized individuals with a good work ethic.
- A clean criminal record. Even applicants with a misdemeanor on their record will probably get overlooked.
- Qualifications from a higher learning program. Various online programs offer certification in different aspects of retail marijuana.
What Kind of Salary Can a Budtender Expect to Earn?
The quick answer is that it depends. According to Cannabis Training University, the average budtender salary ranges between $31,200 to $42,000 a year. If you reach the level of dispensary manager, though, you could earn up to $150,000 a year.
However, most salaries are based on an hourly rate and vary according to location. Therefore, a budtender salary in California is likely to be higher than a budtender salary in Oregon because of differences in cost of living.
We looked at budtender salaries in Washington state – Seattle to be precise – and saw a disparity between dispensaries within the city. Back in 2016, a budtender’s average hourly wage was between $11 and $16, plus tips. It has since probably increased by a couple of bucks, but it is rare for a budtender to earn up to $20 an hour starting out.
According to Glassdoor, a budtender at TGS Colorado earns $11 an hour, while someone in the same role at New Vansterdam (in Washington state) could make $16 an hour.
One possible issue is that many dispensaries don’t offer paid time off or other benefits associated with most industries. Dispensary owners claim that health insurance remains out of their budget and point the finger of blame at taxes which cut their already compromised profit margins.
Section 280E of the federal tax code states that legal marijuana businesses have to pay federal taxes on the sale of their drugs, which are federally illegal. However, they are not allowed to deduct business expenses barring the cost of goods. In fact, dispensaries have only been able to write off state taxes in specific locations in the last couple of years. It has been suggested that easing the tax burden could increase a budtender’s salary by up to 35%.
What Does the Ideal Budtender Resume Look Like?
If you wish to get your foot in the “budtender door,” you must be aware of what dispensaries look for in a budtender resume.
First and foremost, we recommend that you view several budtender resume examples online to give you a feel for the right content and structure. There may be increased demand for qualified candidates, but there is an increasing number of people seeking the most coveted entry-level role in the cannabis industry.
As a result, the resume of a prospective budtender must stand out. Here is a look at what a strong resume will include:
- Past experience in Customer Service: Relevant experience as a bartender or waiter shows that you have the requisite people skills.
- Evidence of Passion for Weed: Budtenders must be passionate, so show you’re the right fit for the job by outlining any roles you’ve held in the marijuana industry, or any ways you have helped the weed community.
- Retail Skills: Budtenders are also salespeople, so you must show evidence of retail skills. Highlight any experience you’ve had in marketing, handling cash or conducting inventory.
- Product Knowledge: As a budtender, you need to advise patients on the right marijuana strains for their needs. which means you should have an almost encyclopedic knowledge of various marijuana strains and products.
- Certification: While you can get a budtender job without formal qualifications, showing proof of a budtending certificate will help your case. This demonstrates a passion for the industry because you took the time and paid money out of pocket to increase your knowledge of weed.
Check out budtender resume templates to help you learn more about good structure. Here is a quick overview of what to shoot for:
- Budtender Resume Objective: Outline your experience and potential value to the company in a short opening paragraph.
- Skills: Include a list of relevant skills to show the employer that you have what they are looking for.
- Relevant Education:This is an excellent place to include details of any weed industry-related certification.
- Experience: If you have no direct industry experience, include details of retail roles you performed.
- Training & Certifications: Any extra qualifications.
- References: Include up to three people who can vouch for your loyalty, work ethic, and dependability.
How to Become a Budtender
There is little chance of getting a job as a budtender if you are unable to display your skills and knowledge in a resume. At the time of writing, there are no formal qualifications required, but you will help your chances by earning a relevant qualification.
For example, the Trichome Institute offers a comprehensive Budtender Certification program which covers the following topics:
- Cannabis Flower.
- Consumer Tolerance.
- Smoking versus Vaping.
- Topicals & Alternatives.
- Edibles & Concentrates.
- Legal Limits & Weight Conversions.
You can take the course online, and the Institute claims it is the most technically advanced and up to date online marijuana education in the world. The course is reviewed and approved by global authorities in cannabis medicine, law, and science. It includes videos and interactive learning to maximize your knowledge.
Despite the detailed nature of the course, you can earn your certification with just seven hours of coursework. Other reputable budtending certification companies include Hemp Staff, the Cannabis Training University, and Green CulturED.
Although there are no national licensing or education programs, individual states apply their own rules. For example, if you want to become a budtender in Colorado, the state’s Marijuana Enforcement Division (MED) prevents you from applying for a Cannabis Badge unless you meet its stipulations. To apply, you must be a Colorado resident, have a Colorado Driver’s License, and show a utility bill. Applicants must be aged 21+ and can’t have been convicted of a felony related to the use, possession or distribution of a controlled substance.
Once you’re confident that you have what it takes to become a budtender, use sites such as THCJobs, Cannabis Jobs Board, and Ganjapreneur to see if there are any budtender jobs near you. In some cases, you may have to start out in a lower position such as the role of cashier, volunteer, or bud trimmer.
Once you receive an interview, make sure you research the company and be armed with a long list of questions. Great examples of questions to ask include:
- Has this company done anything that makes you especially proud?
- If you could take a rule from a different state and apply it here, what would that rule be?
- If you were being hired, are there any areas of the role that would need improvement in your opinion?
If you have a love of marijuana, becoming a budtender could be a dream role. However, don’t assume it is an ‘easy’ job, because it is anything but. As the face of the dispensary, you are expected to be polite and helpful to customers. This means possessing an enormous array of knowledge relating to your dispensary’s products, industry trends, and specific strains to help a patient’s condition.
While the pay is reasonable as far as entry-level jobs go, most dispensaries don’t offer additional benefits. However, you can work your way up the ladder to become the manager of the dispensary. Best of all, you’re surrounded by marijuana and weed lovers all day long!