So let’s just be honest – Becoming a budtender at your local dispensary seems like it’d be 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 on a scale of 1-10 it 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 those are admittedly perks of the job). To be a budtender – a truly good one – takes knowledge, savvy, amazing customer service skills, and a friendly demeanor all mixed in with hard work ethic and a desire to learn. And though the marijuana industry is growing faster by the day, with new jobs and opportunities available at every turn, getting your foot in the door for popular positions like budtenders often takes a lot more than just a bit of knowledge and a love of smoke.
If you’re interested in joining the cannabis industry in this highly sought-after field then read on, as we go over the basics and list a few do’s and don’ts to hopefully help you in finding your very own budtending job.
What Is a Budtender?
A portmanteau of the words “bud” and “bartender”, a “budtender” is probably exactly what you’re picturing in your head right now – Something very akin to a bartender, but for marijuana and related cannabis products. A good budtender will understand the effects of cannabis for both recreational and medicinal purposes, keep up with industry news and trends, and know their 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.
Budtenders are often the number one source of interaction between a dispensary and its clientele, and the position should always be filled by someone both professional about their role in serving the client and enthusiastic in offering their advice. Budtenders are more than just the front of the house – They’re what helps the store build its reputation, and more often than not it’s a budtender’s personality and ability to make solid cannabis recommendations that help keep customers coming back.
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’ll likely come across plenty of 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 you’re looking to be hired by and know as much as you possibly can able local/state recreational and medical marijuana laws.
Also remember: You’re here to demonstrate both passion and knowledge about cannabis related products and medicines but there can be such a thing as showing too much passion; most places are looking to hire someone who is unfamiliar with marijuana but don’t try to sell yourself as a “major stoner” or “super pothead”.
Most dispensaries get a plethora of applications every time a position becomes available and, being completely honest, standing out over the average isn’t difficult to do – Not everyone who applies to work at a dispensary is capable of taking the position seriously enough, instead just seeing it as a chance to get and stay high on the company dime. Enjoying marijuana is just fine and likely even expected to an extent, but you’ll still be working as a sales representative and are essentially one of the faces of the dispensary – 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. Rising above those others that rose up with you, however, can be a bit trickier, leading us into our next topic….
What it Takes to Work as a Budtender
Again, the difference between a good bud tender and a great bud tender 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) end up with you being terminated from your job.
The differences between plants, concentrates, and other forms of using THC and/or CBD.
A good budtender will know the differences between oils, tinctures, edibles and vape liquid; how they’re used, how they tend to effect the users, and which might be the right solution for the individual customer.
The differences between cannabis strains used for recreational use and ones used as medical marijuana.
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.
Every detail about the store’s product you can.
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.
First Hand 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 effectiveness & 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 product 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.
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.
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; keep these things in mind and you should be able to find your own place in the cannabis industry.