If you’re wondering how to become a budtender in a marijuana dispensary, our exclusive guide has all the answers. We provide some historical context behind this new and exciting position and describe the skills needed to be a successful budtender.
Learn the ins and outs of a budtender’s essential job duties, what experience is needed for a budtending job, budtending salary, and what career paths you can go down with an entry-level job as a budtender.
We include a step-by-step guide on becoming a budtender in a medical and recreational dispensary including how to build a stellar resume and cover letter and how to ace the interview. Ready to get a job as a budtender in a marijuana dispensary and start your cannabis career?
What’s a Budtender?
Budtenders are the frontline customer service representatives who help medical and recreational consumers find the right products for them. Budtenders must be friendly, knowledgeable, and able to discuss different products, strains, and delivery methods.
Budtending history doesn’t span too far back in time due to the plant’s heavy federal restrictions. One of the first inklings to the budtending industry would come from the San Francisco Buyers Club, considered the first medical dispensary in the country.
The San Francisco Buyers Club opened in 1992 during the height of the AIDS crisis. The term budtender combines the term for cannabis flower or “bud” with the traditional “bartender” term for a person who mixes and serves drinks at a bar.
At first, the budtending position simply required individuals to weigh out and prepare the cannabis flower for sale. The term became so ubiquitous that it made it into Merriam-Webster’s dictionary in March 2018.
Merriam-Webster credits the first-known use of “budtender” to author Linda Yellin in 1997 (no text cited). Yellin wrote, “I learn from my helpful budtender (yes, that’s his title) that there are two types of marijuana… . He has me sniffing jars of different strains with names like Chemdawg and Amnesia.”
During the 2000s, the budtender term went mainstream as medical dispensaries in Colorado, Washington, and California opened up. Budtenders now had to take on the role of patient consultants or specialists, a far cry from its underground roots.
Budtender Job Description, Skills, and Qualifications
Today’s budtender can serve both medical patients and recreational consumers under the same roof. A number of states have gone on to fully legalizing cannabis and allowing adults over 21 to buy weed at any licensed shop. Budtenders must be ready with product and plant knowledge.
Budtending can seem like an easy gig, but don’t underestimate the power and responsibilities of this important dispensary position. Budtending practices are largely guided by state regulations. Adhering to these state and local rules ensure the shop’s license remains valid.
A budtender’s job description is constantly expanding with all of the innovation and up-to-date information about marijuana and its products. Budtenders must be well-versed in cannabinoid concentration, strain types, psychoactive effects, terpenes, and medical benefits, for starters.
There are also different delivery methods such as inhalation, oral, and topical solutions. Don’t forget about micro-dosing. There’s always something new to learn about cannabis and customer service practices.
Unlike the traditional budtenders who had to weigh out the product, all of the packaging and labeling has been performed by the manufacturer. All a budtender has to do is help customers and complete payment transactions.
For now, the cannabis industry relies heavily on cash due to federal banking restrictions. Budtenders must mainly deal with cash transactions and handing out the right amount of change.
Budtending duties have changed over the years. The term has also undergone a bit of polishing or transformation, if you will. Job hunters can find more professional-sounding terms such as patient specialist, patient consultant, or dispensary agent under the job description.
In terms of skills, budtenders must have a clean criminal record to start. Also, applicants must have a passion for the plant and the industry. Budtenders must really love to work with and help patients treat debilitating medical conditions.
Even recreational consumers are using cannabis for its health benefits for anxiety, pain, inflammation, insomnia, nausea, and other ailments. As a budtender, you must know how to accommodate varying needs.
Budtender Experience and Education
Above all, dispensary managers are looking for budtenders with prior experience in the customer service industry, especially if it’s directly in the cannabis industry. A resume must showcase a strong work ethic and experience in a similar role.
Budtending positions may require a high school diploma or GED. Some dispensaries, however, may overlook a lack of formal education if you have sufficient retail and industry experience. Ultimately, managers need to see budtenders are driven to work hard every day.
Budtending salaries aren’t anything to scoff at, either. You’re probably asking yourself: how much does a budtender make? Or whats is the average salary of a budtender? These retail positions can often pay better than similar positions in non-cannabis industries.
According to Indeed, a marijuana budtender in the United States makes an average base salary of $12.58 per hour (as of March 30, 2020) based on over 4,100 salaries reported. That’s about $29,343 per year. Some of the highest reported budtender paying positions can pay up to $16 per hour or about $33,280 per year.
Of course, wages vary by state and dispensary. Some of the highest-paying budtender positions are in mature markets such as Colorado, Oregon, Washington, and California. New recreational markets such as Illinois and Massachusetts are also hiring budtenders for a decent salary.
Budtenders may receive store discounts, employee discounts, paid sick time, flexible schedules, vision and dental insurance, paid time off, health insurance, and other employee assistance programs on top of a salary.
Becoming a budtender in a marijuana dispensary is the first step toward working your way up the cannabis industry. Dispensaries are always looking for new talent to promote to higher management positions or even corporate positions.
Budtenders can easily earn promotions to other retail store dispensary positions including community outreach, inventory management, or floor management. These are just a few job opportunities available to someone with a budtender’s skill set.
Budtenders can look beyond the walls of a retail shop into the expansive fields of a cultivation facility or the fast-paced nature of a manufacturing facility. As the cannabis industry grows, budtending positions will be highly coveted and can be a stepping stone to bigger and better things.
5 Steps To Become A Budtender In A Marijuana Dispensary
A budtender is an entry-level position that requires job applicants to know the different types of products, industry terminology, strains, cannabis compounds, trends, and consumption methods. Here’s how you can become a budtender in a marijuana dispensary in a few easy steps:
1. Understand The Products
Medical and recreational dispensaries are stocked full of different cannabis products including whole flower, concentrates, topicals, and edibles. Since all of these products are derived from cannabis, you must understand the science behind the plant.
Brush up on the plant’s cannabinoids and terpenes that influence the strain’s effects and aroma, respectively. Study the different strain genetics and how breeding produces different phenotypes with unique effects, flavors, aromas, and potencies.
Learn all about different consumption methods including smoking, vaping, dabbing, eating edibles, sublingual tinctures, transdermal patches, rectal and vaginal suppositories, inhalers, and more. Each produces different effect strengths and durations.
You must fully understand the history of cannabis and the difference between sativa, indica, and hybrid strains. Finally, you must know the different product prices, flower measurements, and cannabis vocabulary to inform a novice customer.
Knowing all of the context of the cannabis industry helps you recommend the best cannabis product for different medical conditions and symptomatic relief. Budtenders must be confident in their suggestions and clearly explain the difference between products.
2. Stay Up-To-Date With Trends
Staying up-to-date with cannabis industry trends such as new strains and products is vital to recommending the best possible product for consumers. Read up on major industry publications and blogs and speak with industry insiders to keep your cannabis knowledge on point.
When looking for a job as a budtender, make sure you understand the latest medical and recreational cannabis laws in the state you’re applying in. Also, keep track of new and exciting cannabis markets that can offer new job opportunities if you want to make the move.
3. Expand Your Knowledge
Fill in those knowledge gaps by reading as much as you can about cannabis. Check out or buy cannabis-related books by legendary industry authors such as Ed Rosenthal, Jack Herer, Ethan Russo, and Jorge Cervantes.
Signing up for cannabis classes and budtender certification courses can provide you with a cannabis-centric program that covers industry topics. Look for schools that offer a comprehensive curriculum and prepare you for a career in the industry.
Online cannabis colleges can teach you about cannabis cultivation, cannabis extraction, cannabis growing, cannabis medicine, cannabis law, cannabis jobs, and starting your own cannabis business.
While there isn’t a national certification standard for cannabis jobs or budtenders, you can find beneficial cannabis courses and schools that have helped others get hired. Look for student reviews, consider your budget, and take advantage all the learning material provided.
4. Get Customer Service Experience
Dispensary owners value previous retail or customer service experience. If you don’t have any, try getting a job as a cashier in the industry or outside. Large dispensaries often hire cashiers to work with budtenders and complete the transaction. It’s a great precursor job to a budtender.
Cashier and customer service experience can also get you familiar with point-of-sale systems used to track sales and customer information. Knowing how to use the POS system ensures the dispensary remains compliant with state and local regulations.
Customer service experience also helps you perfect your customer service skills. Budtenders are often storytellers and educators who share personal experiences with products and explain the benefits of each. Incorporating a bit of humor in the conversation can make a customer feel at ease.
Budtenders must have plenty of experience listening to customer needs, developing trust, and recommending products that will suit their lifestyle. Pretty soon, customers will be begging to work with you on every transaction.
5. Apply And Get Ready For The Interview
Once you feel ready to go out there and get hired by a cannabis dispensary, decide which dispensaries you’d like to work for. You can either physically visit a store and ask if they’re hiring and send a job application in person or apply online at career job boards.
When your application gets selected out of the others vying for the position, make sure to study the dispensary’s products, their values, and other information that can give you an idea of the company culture and mission.
For the interview, don’t forget your resume featuring all of your skills, job experience, and cannabis certifications. It’s up to you to sell yourself and highlight the best attributes you’d bring to the company.
Budtender Resume & Cover Letter
Dispensary owners or the person looking through cannabis resumes and cover letters are on a time crunch and are looking for the best talent. In order to catch the eyes of a job recruiter, you must make your budtender resume stand out.
Resume templates vary, but there are a few key elements you should always have when crafting the perfect budtender resume. Here are a few important components of a cannabis industry resume.
Include your name and contact information such as email and phone number. If available, link to your social media profiles including your professional LinkedIn account.
While not necessary, a quick summary briefly highlights certain skills and experience that would make you the perfect budtender. Start off strong with any unique skills you bring to the table.
Work Experience & Skills
Include a chronological work history or arrange your work experience by type such as “Retail Experience” and “Other Experience.” Include volunteering, leadership roles, and other relevant experience. Make sure to highlight any transferable skills such as attention-to-detail, time-management, organization, multi-tasking, interpersonal skills, and patience.
If available, include where you got your diploma from high school or degree from college. Include the name of the school and when you obtained the degree. Don’t hesitate to include any cannabis certification you complete.
A well-thought-out and spell-checked cover letter is an easy way to stand out among the other applicants. If possible, include a personalized greeting with the name of the person who is hiring such as a dispensary owner or hiring manager.
Open the cover letter by summarizing why you’re applying for the budtending job. Let the person hiring know what qualifies you to be hired. In the second paragraph, go into detail about your qualifications and it pertains to the job requirements.
Cover letters should be under a page in length. Dispensary owners should be able to read it at a glance. Also, include any accomplishments that could help you address the challenges of working in a dispensary.
If you’ve managed to impress a hiring manager, you’ll have to start preparing for the interview and possible budtender interview questions. Possible interview questions might want to prepare for are the following:
- Why do you want to work at this dispensary?
- Do you understand the responsibilities of a budtender?
- What is the difference between indica, sativa, and hybrid strains?
- What’s your favorite marijuana strain?
- Why do you want to work in the marijuana industry?
- What defines a successful customer experience?
- What would you do if the shop was particularly busy with a line out the door?
- Can you describe different types of cannabis concentrates?
- What are cannabinoids and terpenes?
- Do you feel like you’d be able to work in a fast-paced environment?
- How do you handle an upset customer?
- What would you do if you knew an employee was stealing from the shop?
Best Budtender Education & Certification
Apart from reading every book for budtenders you can get your hands on, budtender education and certification can help you gain a deeper understanding about the cannabis plant and its thriving industry.
For the best budtending training online, it’s important to find the right cannabis college that features budtender classes online for becoming a successful budtender. Consider the price, quality, and convenience of each cannabis college you’re considering.
Cannabis Training U provides cannabis job seekers a “How to Be a Budtender” 6-lesson course as part of a comprehensive marijuana training program that features other relevant cannabis topics. The budtending course covers the following marijuana topics:
- Role & responsibilities of a budtender
- Customer service techniques
- Types of medical marijuana
- Medical effects of different types of medical marijuana
- Medical marijuana clones
- Methods of ingestion & preparation for use
- Effects of eating medical marijuana
- How to roll a medical marijuana joint
- Hash-effects and uses
- Kief-effects and uses
- Medical marijuana tinctures
- Medical marijuana transdermals
- Weighing medical marijuana & packaging methods
- Cash register tips & safety precautions
- Wages & career advancement
Online Cannabis College
Cannabis Training U is the most trusted name in cannabis education across a broad range of subjects including cannabis cultivation, cannabis extraction, cannabis medicine, cannabis law, cannabis cooking, and finding a cannabis job. Signing up for online marijuana college gives students:
Sign up for CTU’s budtending marijuana course today!