What Budtender Training is Needed to Work in a Dispensary?

We’ve talked elsewhere about the potential joys of becoming a budtender, along with just how crowded the budtender field can be. If you’re looking to snag one of these highly sought-after positions you’re probably trying to figure out the best way to stand out among your competition, and one way that can be tempting is via taking “budtender certification classes”.

The problem is there are so many to choose from, and in such a crowded field scam artists are bound to pop up. In this article on cannabis industry certification (and budtender training in particular) we’ll look at some of the top certification outlets, go over their curriculum and reputations, and discuss what sort of budtender training might be best for you.

cannabis at a dispensary

Finding a Budtender Job and How to Prepare

If you’re on the hunt for work as a budtender odds are you’ve gone to Google and tried the “budtending jobs near me” search only to end up either completely over- or underwhelmed (or possibly both). Again, jobs for budtenders are extremely coveted and finding the “budtender job near me” can be a real pain – A lot of dispensaries don’t hire budtenders off the street and instead grandfather in people from other positions in the marijuana dispensary/industry.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, if and when you do find an open position for budtenders, it can be difficult to understand what knowledge or qualifications may be needed to apply in the first place. Going into a job interview it’s best to come in with an understanding of what the dispensary expects out of their budtenders; unfortunately figuring out where to begin gaining that knowledge can be tricky.

In our article on How to Become a Budtender we talk about customer service and some of the pillars of knowledge good budtenders should have: legality, strains, effects, dosage recommendations, ingestion methods and the like. We never directly mention training for budtenders in this list simply because there is no federal mandate requiring certification or training before becoming a budtender, and as of this article’s time of writing only one state in the US is planning on requiring certification for dispensary bud tender positions: Illinois, to take effect in 2020. This doesn’t mean that a recreational or medical marijuana dispensary might not have their own standards and requirements, just that there isn’t a single-best solution when it comes to finding budtender training.

budtender serving an order

If you’re unsure of what an open budtending position might require from the company there’s nothing wrong with the bold move of out-right asking. Either go into the dispensary or call and speak to someone who works there – Talk to the bud tender working that day or, if you’re aiming to leave a strong impression ask to chat to whomever is on duty as the dispensary manager. Be respectful and upfront – Tell them you’re interested in applying but wanted to learn what sort of candidate, qualifications and training they’re looking for. This is not only the easiest way of finding out exactly what to bring to an interview but can also help you stand out among a crowd of other applicants.

Where Can I Find Budtender Training?

There are a number of cannabis and medical marijuana training “academies” out there that offer a wide variety of courses and information on the cannabis industry, often specifically touting “Budtender Training & Certification Courses”. But what exactly can this training do for you and what should you be wary of?

While recreational & medical marijuana “certification” may be a bit of a misleading term, for the reasons we’ve explained above, training is a whole other subject, and something that can be of use to anyone seeking out a budtending job (particularly those hoping to get hired as a first timer). With such a wide array of schools out there it can be hard to tell which ones might be more legitimate than others; we’ve listed some of the most well-known and prominent ones below and talk a bit about what they offer.

Oaksterdam University

Perhaps one of the most easily recognizable cannabis learning institutes Oaksterdam University offers certification courses for both horticulture and generalized marijuana business education. All of their courses are available in either a live “virtual classroom” setting, enabling the student to interact and ask questions with a teacher directly, or a “go at your own pace” course that includes 180 days of access to the curriculum (all virtual classroom courses last 14 weeks and consist of 24 total classes).

oaksterdam logo

The business course focuses on a wide variety of topics helpful to anyone looking to work in the cannabis industry, ranging from management practices to customer relations and advocacy for patients, as well as information on handling and selling various topical or sublingual recreational/medical marijuana or CBD extracts. The list covered by their modules seems comprehensive, and would serve as a great foundation for anyone looking to learn more about the sale and use of cannabis – It may be more than what you need if you’re just looking for some generalized budtender training, though.

For name recognition it’s tough to beat Oaksterdam, and reviews across the internet back up their reputation – Classes are typically taught by experts, and the self-styled university has a long history in the cannabis industry, having first officially opened in 2007. While, as always, a certification will not guarantee employment, having a training qualification like Oaksterdam University on your budtender resume likely won’t hurt.

Cannabis Training Institute (CTI) and The Medical Cannabis Institute (TMCI)

The Cannabis Training Institute and The Medical Cannabis Institute are both branches of the same company, an online-only training & certification group founded in 2013. Both branches offer a variety of cannabis and medical marijuana related courses, usually at a budget price range.

TMCI global

While courses from CTI typically focus around managerial classes and store ownership they do offer a “Dispensary Technician Certification Course” which would work well as a budtender training class, giving an overview of various customer service job responsibilities such as patient care & education, plus types of cannabis and their medicinal relevance. TMCI focuses primarily around areas which are medical marijuana only (no recreational use), and has a breakdown of several courses for individual states and their laws/requirements – Also good for anyone seeking budtender training in a medical-only state.

While CTI/TMCI may run on the cheaper end of certification their reviews across the internet remain solid, and their individual courses focusing on the unique requirements of specific states is a bonus, as those requirements can vary wildly and are rarely fully covered in a more generalized course. It’s also nice to see an outfit offering a curriculum devoted to medical marijuana states, where navigating state legality can be very tricky.

Trichome Institute

Founded in 2014 the Trichome Institute takes an all-around approach to their courses on marijuana, teaching not only the ins-and-outs of cannabis business but also the history and overall usage of marijuana as well. While plenty of us may not think about our daily smoke much beyond “is this weed or not?” the Trichome Institute looks to treat cannabis along the same lines as a fine wine, scientifically discussing its effects in relation to its smell, chemical composure, and even appearance (a process they like to refer to as “interpening”).

trichome institute logo

Whether or not their attempts at creating a “marijuana sommelier” are completely scientific or just bourgie nonsense there is a lot of great knowledge to be found in their courses, which typically run at the lower end of the middle range. Unfortunately these can also feel a little short – Some of their certifications, such as their extraction and concentrates fundamentals, only lasts 2.5 hours with the included exam. Still, if you’re looking to get a job at a high end dispensary filled with the cannabis equivalent of wine snobs? A budtender training course from the Trichome Institute might be considered mandatory.

Clover Leaf University

Often found competing with Oaksterdam University for title of “oldest cannabis training school” Clover Leaf University has been around for a significant amount of time – 2009 to be precise. Their curriculum is primarily based around dispensary and farm business management, state compliance (focused on Colorado), and commercial growing/agriculture, with occasional classes focusing on budtender training, sales of cannabis products, cannabis edible culinary classes and the like.

clover leaf university crest

Clover Leaf University has a large focus on in-person classes, with only a few traditionally available online; however, as of 2020 many classes have been moved into web-based seminars (or “webinars” if you want to be all hip about it). Interestingly finding testimonials and reviews of Clover Leaf has been a bit difficult, and though their website and class list both look up-to-date there are dead links on the enrollment page and other sections that, as of this article’s original posting, haven’t been updated in several years – All things that leave us feeling mildly concerned, particularly considering Clover Leaf’s usual prices are easily among the highest on this list.

Clover Leaf University definitely came onto the scene with a lot of buzz, but it’s hard to tell if that hype is still real or if the shine has faded from this classic institution. Between the current lack of in-person classes and the broken links to their online enrollment, though, it’s hard to recommend this being your first stop for management courses or budtender training.

Green CulturED Online Cannabis Education

A school founded in 2012, Green CulturED (GCO) focuses purely on online courses, and is one of the only schools on this list to offer training specifically geared to address the new Illinois 2020 dispensary agent certification requirements. Interestingly, GCO works off of a tiered membership/subscription model, with each level granting the subscriber more access/benefits/perks/etc. (though purchasing some courses a la carte is possible).

green culturED logo

With a wide catalogue of courses covering many states and positions across the cannabis industry (budtender training included) alongside good reviews it would seem the only major drawback for GCO is the monthly subscription, which can be pricey at the higher tiers. Still, if looking for reliable online training, Green CulturED might be a smart solution for your budtender knowledge needs.

Learn Sativa University & Cannabis College

A relative newcomer in the world of cannabis-related training & certification, the Florida-based Learn Sativa University has already made a good name for itself, with quite a lot of media attention and plenty of positive reviews across the internet. They are also unique on this list in that they require an approved application before letting a person enroll for their course.

learn sativa logo

And we do mean “course” as there is only one, offered both online and at their Orlando campus – A business management course designed to cover all basic aspects of the marijuana industry and primarily geared toward dispensary owners/workers. Many of the topics covered, including cannabis products, legality, history, growing technique and marijuana dispensary management would be handy for someone looking for a generalized course on budtender training, and the prices are generally on the lower side of things. But being so new it’s hard to say just how effective their training may be, and there’s very little information on whether or not the program focuses solely on Florida-specific law. Learn Sativa U may be worth looking into, but if it’s worth the money is a question we can’t answer yet.

THC University

THC University is another online-only learning outfit with a wide variety of courses to choose from, including one focused solely as budtender training/budtender certification. Unlike others on this list, however, THC University offers a one-time fee for access to all of it’s courses on an unlimited basis, which might be appealing to those on a budget.

thc university logo

On the down side course lengths seem short, with the aforementioned budtender training course only lasting three hours total – This short length added into reviews online claiming outdated information and only surface-level knowledge means this is probably one to skip.

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