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If you’ve set your sights on a career in the legal marijuana industry, many rewarding cannabis jobs are available with a wide range of companies. Being a cannabis trimmer falls within the cultivation sector of the industry, which also includes general cultivation, cloning, and harvesting—as well as research and development (R&D) for some of the larger companies.
All cannabis companies have a need for trimmers, regardless of the trimming method they employ.
Simply put, trimming is a required part of preparing flower for sale or use for extraction after harvest but before final curing and packaging (which often includes weighing), which are two other cannabis jobs in themselves. Trimming requires a specialized skill, and some people have a knack for it more than others.
If you want to start your cultivation career as a cannabis trimmer, here's what to expect.
What Goes Into Being A Cannabis Trimmer?
Just like certain methods of cannabis extraction, the trimming job combines a bit of standard procedure with a certain level of artistry. The flowers produced by an efficient and skilled cannabis trimmer are far superior to those produced by an average or sloppy trimmer, and most people can tell the difference at a glance.
Good trimmers are patient, good with their hands, and mentally sharp. While this job is not very labor-intensive, it does require the mental fortitude to sit or stand in one place all day. While wearing gloves, trimmer must process the buds as quickly as they can while being careful to gently handle the buds without applying too much pressure or damaging them.
Ultimately, trimmers are responsible for pruning the leaves and stems from the cannabis flower buds, so that they can display tremendous bag/jar appeal. While looks aren't the only thing that determines the bud quality, it is an important factor to consider when buying cannabis.
While the job may seem repetitive, there are many variables to consider when trimming bud. Different strains require different pruning methods. Some strains are rounder and denser while others are slender and airy, which require pruning within the buds.
For some trimmers, the job can be relatively easy once they get the hang of it. Over time, you can reach a flow state where you are in the zone, trimming as fast as you can without compromising the quality of the bud. In these cases, your entire shift can go by in a flash.
Because trimming requires an acquired skill, many trim positions pay a bit more than other cannabis jobs like budtending or entry-level cultivation. In some cases, trimmers get paid by the amount of cannabis that they trim during a day.
Three Common Methods For Trimming Cannabis
We’ll break the trimming process down to three specific methods employed in today’s industry: machine trimming, wet trimming, and dry trimming. Each has its devoted followers and a good argument can be made for the overall merits of each method.
Machine trimming is an emerging method, where machines essentially do most, but not all, of the hard work.
These trimming machines carry lofty price tags and are a significant investment for those companies that use them, which most often includes companies that process and sell a large amount of flower, either for concentrate refinement or retail sales of cured bud.
The amount of flower that a machine can trim is impressive and surpasses what even a crew of manual trimmers can accomplish in the same amount of time. For the most part, the trims that result from these machines are quite satisfactory. There are no excess leaves, and the look of the trimmed flower is quite consistent—this is both the strength and the weakness of machine trimmed flower.
Due to the assembly-line, hands-off nature of machine trimming, all flower tends to look the same. Examining a batch of recently processed flower that all look like tiny Christmas trees leave something to be desired among true cannabis connoisseurs, who often appreciate an excellent hand-trim, where individual buds are painstakingly examined and trimmed, giving the individual flowers their own unique shapes and appearance.
Companies that employ machine trimming will have much smaller trimming teams because the amount of work involved is a fraction of what hand trimming entails. However, trimming machines do not completely remove all of the excess leaves. Machines can remove about 50 to 60% of the leaves and stems. Some companies will have trimmers check for quality of the machine-trimmed buds and give them a final hand trim.
Wet Hand Trimming
Wet hand trimming is exactly what it sounds like: manually trimming recently harvested flower before any curing or drying occurs. This method of trimming is the most traditional—and many people consider it to be the best still. There should be minimal delays between the time of harvest and when hand-trimming occurs.
Hand trimmers employ a hand-trimming tool that ideally captures the best qualities of scissors and branch cutters. The blades should be narrow enough to reach strategically within the inner reaches of the flowers, with a good spring action to make frequent clips in rapid succession possible.
Removing all large leaves is the first objective—and this is generally the easiest part of the trimming job. After removing all of the intact, large leaves, the work gets more labor-intensive, with each flower requiring close scrutiny to painstakingly remove all excess leaves, taking all of the leaves at the stem if possible, or at the very least trimming them so they are reduced in size and in no way covering the frosty, trichome-covered calyxes of the bud, which is where most of the concentrated THC and CBD (the two main cannabinoids in hemp and marijuana) are found.
Because most cannabis trimmers are paid by the amount of flower they can manually remove in the shortest amount of time, a keen eye, quick hands, attention to detail, and efficient time management are key factors in this line of work.
Some companies prefer their trimmers to sit while working, but others allow standing if it leads to more expedient and productive performance. In some cases, you can even put your headphones in and listen to music or a podcast if it helps you focus and pass the time.
Dry trimming is very similar to wet trimming. The difference is that the buds have reached a certain degree of dryness before the trimming is done. The amount of dryness to the flower can vary between different operations, but the objective is still the same—to remove excessive leaves.
Because the leaves tend to be the first part of the flower to dry, the process of dry trimming usually results in the excess leaf matter flaking away from the buds, falling off without much effort rather than requiring deliberate trimming of each individual leaf.
A certain level of trimming is still necessary, but the process is not as labor intensive as wet trimming and often quicker. Opinions vary about the quality of the finished and fully cured flower when comparing wet to dry trimming. Some people believe wet trims result in a superior product, while others consider any perceived difference to be minor and inconsequential—if there is a difference at all.
As the connoisseur segment of the market grows, hand trimming will produce the most desirable product for this small-but-growing segment of customers.
What To Do With Sweet Leaf
All trimming methods have the same objective of properly preparing bud for consumption. All trimming methods also result in the production of another valuable commodity that comes from the plant: sweet leaf (aka sugar leaf).
Sweet leaf is aptly named—it’s the trimmed leaf matter that comes directly from the flower, and it usually has a sticky, sweet coating of potent trichomes. Sweet leaf is a valuable raw material used to produce of a wide variety of cannabis concentrates like hash, hash oil, wax, shatter, and crumble.
Concentrates (both THC and CBD) provide a quick and potent cannabis experience, usually through the use of oil vaporizer pens and dab rigs. Concentrates are extremely popular in today’s cannabis industry, and this market is growing.
For some people, concentrates are the preferred method of consuming cannabis, and for many of them, it’s the only method.
Handling The Challenges of Trimming
Trimming isn't all fun and games. You don't get to smoke weed on the job and just hang out with your friends. It is often hard work that can result in repetitive strain injury and other aches and pains throughout your body if you are not careful.
One reason that trimming can be so hard on the body is because workers are paid by the pound they trim. When someone takes a break or is not trimming, they are losing out on money. That is why many trimmers work 12-hour days or more to make more money.
The repetitive motion of squeezing a pair of scissors, excessive wrist movement, and hunching over the table can result in muscle cramps, numbness, or even ganglion cysts, which are lumps that develop along the tendons or joints in the wrists or hands.
In addition, you may be working in a drying or curing room where dehumidifiers are pulling out the moisture from the air in the room.As a result, you may end up with very dry skin and increased oil production that can trigger acne in all skin types all throughout harvest season.
While there are many challenges to working with cannabis buds, here are a few tips to keep in mind to help you stay healthy and pain-free while trimming cannabis:
- Stretch regularly: Every hour, you should take about 10 minutes to stretch your arms and hands. Giving your muscles this time to rest can help you avoid tendon strain. Every hour, stand up and stretch your arms and hands. Spread out your fingers and stretch your arms back.
- Soothe your muscles: In some cases, harvest managers will provide a cannabis topical for communal use. During your breaks, make sure to massage your sore areas such as hands, forearms, and neck to loosen them up.
- Care for your skin: Working in an extremely dry room with low humidity can result in dry skin and breakouts. To overcome this, practice good slef care for your skin. At night, you can use a combination of micellar water or and oil cleanser to remove the resin from your pores. Afterward, you can use a normal face wash to cleanse your skin. Once a week, use an exfoliator to do a deep clean and use a face toner before moisturizing. A hydrating face mist can be used regularly to overcome the dehydration in the trim room.
Trimming Cannabis Is A Great Way Into The Industry
Among the various cannabis jobs commonly required in today’s industry, trimming can be an attractive position—especially for those who want a hands-on career with the plant—and trimming is about as hands-on as it gets.
If you are at least 21 years of age and are able to pass a criminal background check, you have a good chance of breaking into the industry. Keep in mind, each state has different requirements for cannabis workers. Some may even require a cannabis worker permit.
Many trim rooms consist of a tight-knit group of people who enjoy friendly comradery and, hopefully, the same taste in music, as trimmers often work with speakers blasting.
Excellent cannabis trimmers are in demand among cannabis companies, so if you’re a detail-oriented person who doesn’t mind repetitive work and the occasional hand cramp, trimming might be the perfect cannabis job for you.
The work is consistent and rewarding, and there’s a steady demand for those who can do it well. Learn more about it, hone your skills, and you may find it’s your dream job that can lead to bigger and better things!
Starting off as a cannabis trimmer is an excellent way to break into the industry. As a trimmer, it is your responsibility to remove the leaves from the flower using pruning shears and weighing the bud. Over time, you can work your way up to become the lead trimmer.
Lead trimmers are also responsible for pruning leaves from the flower buds. In addition, they are in charge of quality control, organizing the product, and weighing the flower. The next step up the job ladder is the trimming production manager.
The trimming production manager is responsible for overseeing the production in the trim room. They are responsible for creating employee schedules, as well as developing and maintaining standard operating procedures.
As a lead or production manager, you must be the first one to get to work and set up the rooms. You must also distribute the raw flower between production rooms and ensure that all equipment is in working order. In addition, you may need to do some clerical work and track each strain during its stage of production.
Get Industry Certified at Cannabis Training University
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Enrollment in Cannabis Training University can provide you with a complete cannabis education, so you can have a better chance of getting hired on a cannabis farm. Learn from experts in the field about cannabis laws, cannabis cultivation, cannabis cooking, cannabis extraction, cannabis medicine, cannabis careers, and cannabis business.
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