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A budtender's blue-gloved hand holds a cannabis bud, by Valery_Ambartsumian via iStock

How to Become a Budtender

High There

By High There

June 11, 2020

So let’s just be honest – Becoming a budtender at your local dispensary seems like a pretty sweet gig, right? “Gets paid to work with weed” is the sort of job description a whole lot of dreams are made of, and doesn’t seem like the type of work that would rank high on the stress meter.

But being a budtender is more than just hanging around a storefront talking about and partaking in cannabis (though, admittedly, these are perks of the job). A truly great budtender possesses a deep understanding of cannabis, excellent customer service skills, a hard work ethic and a desire to keep learning. And though the marijuana industry is growing faster by the day, standing out for popular positions like budtending takes more than just a love of smoke.

If you’re interested in joining the cannabis industry in this highly sought-after field then keep reading.We’ll cover the basic do’s and don’ts to hopefully help you find your very own budtending job.

What Is a Budtender?

The inside of a cannabis dispensary, by Jan Zwarthoed via Unsplash

A portmanteau of the words “bud” and “bartender”, a “budtender” is probably exactly what you’re picturing in your head right now – the person who dispenses cannabis to dispensary customers Unlike bartenders, customers rely on budtenders for education and recommendations on the products they sell. A good budtender will understand the effects of cannabis for both recreational and medicinal purposes, keep up with industry news and trends, and know the store like the back of their hand.

The best budtenders, though, will combine cannabis knowledge with excellent social skills, able to connect with their customer on a personal level to truly understand their wants and needs.

They’re often the first and longest interaction a dispensary has with its clientele, so the position should always be filled by someone both professional and enthusiastic. They’re not just  front of house staff – they’re what helps the store build its reputation. More often than not, it’s the quality recommendations and personality of budtenders that sets a dispensary apart and builds customer loyalty.

Most budtender jobs are considered entry-level positions but still pay rather well, with the average salary for budtenders running between $25-$35k per year. They’re also an excellent place to begin working your way up the cannabis industry ladder, as opportunities for growth and promotion are fairly commonplace. It may not be entirely easy to become a budtender at your local dispensary, but once you’re in you’re exposed to more  opportunities to excel and find additional cannabis-related work.

Interviewing for a Budtender Job

We talk a bit about some general cannabis industry interviewing tips in our How to Get a Job in the Medical Marijuana Industry article, but it’s worth mentioning here that, same as with many other customer service positions, it’s both knowledge and personality that will get you a job working as a Budtender.

When going in for the interview make sure you’re able to demonstrate both friendliness and professionalism. Put your best foot forward by remembering to be both courteous and curious; ask intelligent questions about the dispensary and be sure to brush up on your local/state recreational and medical marijuana laws ahead of time.

Also remember: While most places are looking for someone passionate about cannabis, you don’t need to over-emphasize your own personal use. Remember this is just one part of the job, and employers will still hear it as a red flag if you’re bragging about spending most of your days intoxicated. You might develop a relationship at work where talking about your personal use becomes more appropriate over time, but maybe don’t lead with that in your interview.

Show that you can be professional while still being passionate about cannabis and you’ll easily rise above the vast majority of your fellow applicants. But which skills and traits will take you from the “maybe” pile to securing a position?

A man purchases cannabis from a budtender at a local dispensary, by nattrass via iStock

What it Takes to Work as a Budtender

Again, the difference between a good budtender and a great budtender comes down to both product knowledge and people knowledge, with the best budtenders able to make smart cannabis recommendations while connecting with their patrons on a personal level. Here are just a few things you should have an intimate knowledge of when it comes to your dispensary and its product:

Local and state cannabis policies & legalities

This cannot be stressed enough, as failing to follow local/state law can (and likely will) result in you being terminated from your job.

The attributes of different strains and forms of cannabis

A good budtender will know the differences between oils, tinctures, edibles and vape liquid; how they’re used, how they tend to affect the users, and which might be the right solution for the individual customer.

Recreational vs. medical product recommendations

A customer coming in looking to get nice and blazed for the weekend probably isn’t interested in a CBD-heavy strain, and someone who simply needs some joint pain relief may not be interested in losing their entire day to the 23% THC content Silver Haze you have on hand. Be attentive to any doctor’s notes or recommendations that may accompany a medical patient.

A detailed knowledge of the store’s product inventory

Be prepared to describe not only general effects but also taste, smell, overall potency, where the cannabis was raised, how it was harvested or processed, and how much a recommended dosage might be – This can be particularly important for clients looking at using medical marijuana.

The various devices and implements used to smoke, vaporize, or otherwise partake in marijuana usage

Be prepared to show new customers how these work and walk them through it if need be. A big complex vape rig might need some explaining to someone who’s never vaped before, so be prepared to be patient with those who are new.

Firsthand experience

Most budtenders will also have personal tales about their own usage of the store’s product – This is an old and commonplace sales tactic, as personal anecdotes often make a consumer feel more at ease and interested in a purchase if they have a first-hand testimonial to the product’s potency and effects.

Honesty & personality

As you become the face of the dispensary, though, be both earnest and honest – A customer must be able to trust you and your recommendations, so make sure you’ve listened to the clients needs and never try to push products they don’t want or require. Trust goes a long way toward building repeat business.

Ultimately, being a good budtender takes more than customer service skills. Budtenders should be able to talk about the history of cannabis use, the benefits of medical marijuana, and the latest cannabis industry and cannabis culture trends.

Make sure to look into cannabis-related magazines and websites, and follow industry leaders blogs & social media accounts. If you’re able,try to visit industry trade shows, and keep up with accolades given to specific strains; solid background information on competition-winning cannabis strains will go a long way in winning over your patients/customers.

A budtender dispenses cannabis, by Add Weed via Unsplash

Training to Become a Budtender

When looking to get a job at a dispensary it can be hard knowing exactly what that dispensary is looking for in terms of budtender qualifications, budtender training, and budtender certification. Our article on “What Budtender Training is Needed to Work in a Dispensary” goes into a lot of detail on budtender certification and how it might effect your job search.

Wrapping Up

Like we’ve said before, it’s not always easy finding open positions for budtenders that aren’t already jam-packed full of applicants; as the medical marijuana industry grows cannabis dispensary stores are often finding themselves with a glut of individuals very eager to get one of these lucrative, fun jobs.

A little bit of prep work, a whole lot of knowledge about cannabis products, and a heaping side of personality are all great ways to help yourself stand out among the crowd, and we hope our guide on how to become a budtender has helped point you on the right path. Just remember: be professional, stay informed, and always be willing to listen and learn.

High There

About The Author

High There

HIGH THERE MISSION

WE’RE A CREATIVE COMMUNITY — EXPLORING THE SCIENCE, CRAFT, AND CULTURE OF CANNABIS.
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