If you love marijuana, perhaps you have thought about becoming a budtender. After all, it is arguably the dream job for the weed enthusiast. Now that the industry is ready for a boom period, it needs all the qualified staff it can get.
As it happens, a budtender’s role is one of the most accessible jobs within the industry. But what does the job entail? More importantly, how do you gain the necessary qualifications?
What Is a Budtender?
As a budtender, you are a professional cannabis expert and work behind a marijuana dispensary counter. If you’ve 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 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.
You need to either attend budtender school or complete budtender training online. In both cases, you receive your budtender license.
If you want to become a budtender, you need a real passion for marijuana. You must listen carefully to a patient’s needs and provide them with recommendations. It is admittedly impossible to know everything about the plant. However, budtenders must know the most popular strains and new products such as vaporizers and concentrates.
Knowledge Is Power for Budtenders
You will receive a lot of training. However, you will have knowledge gaps when you start your budtender career. Dedicated budtenders usually go above and beyond and read far more information than what the course requires. We recommend doing the following to get the most out of your research:
- Sign up for as many cannabis industry blogs, newsletters, websites, and mailing lists as possible.
- 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!)
You must also have the following knowledge:
- How every single product on the dispensary’s shelf is 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.
The best budtenders in the U.S. are in tune with the latest trends. You can follow suit by reading industry blogs and checking out relevant social media profiles.
Advanced Knowledge Is Essential to Reach the Top
High-quality budtenders will know the answers to complex questions like:
- What is dewaxed shatter?
- Why is this 37% THC test result untrustworthy?
- What are the differences between CO2 and BHO extraction?
- Which strains are winning current competitions such as the Cannabis Cup?
- What are the latest results from medical marijuana studies?
Successful budtenders are also outstanding storytellers. They can tell powerful true stories, which allow them to connect with customers on a personal level. Each story is relatively short and tailored to each patient. It focuses on how the marijuana product in question could positively affect 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, you should only recommend products that are genuinely likely to work. You will give your dispensary a bad name if you try to force sales. There is simply no need for fabricated information in the largely “self-promoting” cannabis industry.
Is It Hard to Get Budtender Jobs?
If you have the requisite budtender license, you have a good employment chance depending on where you live. By late 2021, the cannabis industry has created an estimated 321,000 jobs, and this number is only projected to grow.
The best cannabis industry sectors for jobs, in descending order, are:
- Ancillary Services
- Wholesale Cultivators
- Infused Product Makers
- Testing Labs
The role of a budtender is one of the most in-demand positions at present. Dispensaries need to hire qualified and personable budtenders. These employees are the organization’s face and ultimately provide advice on choosing the right strain and taking the correct dosage. Budtenders also make sure that patients receive the right product safety advice.
You should theoretically find a lot of options in legal cannabis states. Whether you’re looking for budtender jobs in Colorado, Oregon, or Los Angeles, this is the case. You may even have some luck searching for budtender jobs on Craigslist.
What Employers Look For
However, dispensaries don’t hire anyone that walks through their doors. The industry is desperate to shed the ‘stoner stereotype.’ Therefore, 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 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. 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. At present, the average budtender salary is approximately $35,600 per annum. In major cities, this typically rises above $40,000. A lot of budtenders are paid hourly. A growing number of dispensaries are moving towards a $15 per hour minimum rate.
Incidentally, dispensary managers can earn around $150,000 a year.
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. They 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 sales. Marijuana remains a federally illegal substance. However, they are not allowed to deduct business expenses barring the cost of goods. Dispensaries can only write off state taxes in specific locations in the last couple of years. Easing the tax burden on dispensaries could increase a budtender’s salary by up to 35%.
What Does the Ideal Budtender Resume Look Like?
First and foremost, we recommend that you view several budtender resume examples online. This can give you a feel for the right content and structure. As it is mainly highly qualified candidates that apply, a budtender’s resume must stand out. Here is a look at what a strong resume will include:
- Experience in Customer Service: Relevant experience as a bartender or waiter shows that you have the requisite people skills.
- Evidence of Passion for Weed:Outline 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. You should have an almost encyclopedic knowledge of various marijuana strains and products.
- Certification: Showing proof of a budtending certificate will help your case. The fact you took the time and paid money out of pocket to get the qualification will impress hiring companies.
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 cannot display your skills and knowledge in a resume. There are no formal qualifications required. However, you will greatly help your chances by earning a relevant qualification. Few dispensaries will hire someone without a qualification from a reputable entity.
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. 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 course’s complex nature, 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.
There are no national licensing or education programs, but individual states apply their own rules.
For example, if you want to become a budtender in Colorado, you must adhere to its Marijuana Enforcement Division (MED) rules. Otherwise, you can’t get a job in this field.
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 must have no felony conviction related to the use, possession, or distribution of a controlled substance.
Finding a Budtender Job
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 in a different position, such as 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?
Final Thoughts on Becoming a Budtender
If you have a love of marijuana, becoming a budtender is potentially a dream role. However, don’t assume it is an ‘easy’ job because it is anything but. As the face of the dispensary, you must 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!