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How To Become A Budtender: The Ultimate Guide

As a former budtender, I will say that the job is gratifying. You get to help people discover what cannabis products work for them, and of course, you get to work with weed!

You form bonds with repeat customers and learn from their experiences what strains or products would work best for them in the future. 

And it is a growing cannabis industry that is only expected to grow with more budtender jobs and training or certification programs starting up.

Keep on reading to learn the A-Z of bundtending.

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Cannabis Budtending Is New…For Now

At the moment, it is relatively easy finding a new career at a dispensary, but that doesn’t mean it will stay this way long. 

If it is your dream job or you have a passion for being a budtender, make sure that you have learned all the basics of budtending knowledge before applying.

The best budtenders are well-versed in how to assist customers, as the cannabis industry is also a service industry. 

So if you have retail experience, cannabis education, excellent customer service skills, and know cannabis effects and marijuana strains, you will stand out from the crowd.

Cannabis Budtending License: Does It Exist?

If you think you need a Budtending License to become a budtender in most states, you would be wrong. 

Though there are some exceptions, national budtending licenses do not exist because marijuana is a schedule 1 substance at the federal level. 

There is no specific cannabis training university, but having a bachelor’s degree in botany may increase your chances of getting hired in the cannabis industry.

Until it becomes fully legalized and regulated across the United States, there is no specific course or certification you need to become a budtender.

But, depending on the state you are looking to work in, some will require their budtenders to obtain a license to work in their dispensaries. 

joints and gel caps

For example, in Colorado, dispensaries require their employees to obtain what is referred to as a MED badge from the Colorado Marijuana Enforcement Division. 

In Colorado, you cannot work without this badge. So you need to attain this marijuana license.

However, most states do not require certification since it is all new. Many states haven’t established regulations for a budtender, for now anyway.

For stores in the canna-business, they are searching for a highly qualified budtender or people with training that you must go through to work in their stores successfully. These jobs look for people who have had some training, whether online or self-taught. 

 So if you want to be a budtender, now is the time to hop on board. But make sure you know everything you can about cannabis and its multiple forms and products to thrive as a budtender.

How Much Does A Budtender Make?

According to ZipRecruiter, the average budtender makes approximately $34,179/year. 

But before you get discouraged from becoming a budtender, do not forget that budtenders get tips too – sometimes!

That $34K salary equals approximately $16.43 before tips, which equals roughly $657/week and $2,848/month. 

Location Matters

You also will make more or less depending on what state or area you live in. For instance, ZipRecruiter sees annual salaries as high as $69,500 and as low as $20,000. 

However, the majority of dispensary budtender salaries range from $25,000 to $31,500. 

What really makes a difference in what you will make is based on skill level, location, and years of service. For instance, if you live in New York City, NK, you can make an hourly wage of $19.18 before tips.  

And depending on how great your customer service game is, you can get tips in the $1- 20 range per customer. This is where the more you know about cannabis makes a difference. 

Another great thing for potential budtenders is that the growth opportunities are phenomenal if you get hired for a job as a Dispensary Pharmacist, One Plant Dispensary, or Dispensary Manager, which increases the salary rates from $25,472 to $58,092. 

Since it is a growing cannabis industry, now is the time to get in on these jobs. 

There are only fifteen states that still outlaw marijuana in any form, which leaves many states in the process of becoming cannabis-friendly for either recreational or medical use. 

dispensary weed

What Makes A Good Budtender?

The key to being a great Budtender is knowledge. 

You need to know everything from the next trending products to figuring out the math, having excellent customer service, and knowing all the legalities of budtending in your state. 

Cannabis Product Knowledge

Know your strains. I cannot stress this enough. But first, you need to know the difference between Sativa and Indicas

When introducing cannabis and CBD products to your customers, you need to identify whether they are looking for a cerebral high, body-stone, or Hemp driven relaxation.  

You will find many customers ask the difference between these two forms of cannabis products, and I always said that Indicas mean “In-da-couch” to help them remember for future purchases. 

Know Your Weed

And then there are hybrids that have different ratios. For example, some are Indica-dominant or Sativa-dominant, or 50/50. 

Knowing which strains fall into these three categories will help you acquire a job in a dispensary. Cannabinoid ratios are essential to customers. 

So make sure you are always familiar with the products available within these categories.

Terpenes are what give flower, vapes, and concentrates their different flavors. They also help with the entourage effect, which increases the effectiveness of the weed. There are hundreds of terpenes, but a few are more prevalent in most strains.

Some of these include limonene (which is citrusy), pinene (which is like pine), or Isovaleric acid (which gives weed a cheesy taste).

Knowing which strain is high in a particular terpene will help you advise customers what to expect the taste to be like. It is a handy skill and requires a sharp sense of smell.

Once you have identified whether they want an Indica, Sativa, or Hybrid, then you need to find the method they wish to ingest or use cannabis. 

For example, do they want edibles, drinks, transdermal patches, flower, vaporizers, oils, concentrates, topical, or other products?

If they want flower, this is where you need to be able to tell them where on the spectrum the various types of flower range. 

For instance, if they want an Indica-dominant hybrid, recommend the strains that the dispensary currently carries, like OG Kush.


Be The Consumption Expert

But what happens if they want edibles?

It is also vital to know what sort of buzz the client wants and recommend based on that. Some people enjoy gummies, suckers, chocolate, drinks, and the list goes on. 

Make sure you know the THC or CBD ratios for the products. Which ones are stronger, also which are Indicas, Sativas, or Hybrids.

It is also essential to know which products are sugar-free, gluten-free, non-GMO, or vegan when it comes to edibles, as someone may ask you for these products.

On rare occasions, you may have someone coming back to you saying the edible did nothing for them. 

Here, you can recommend more potent products to help them find their dosage sweet spot.

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Be The Resident Dabber

When it comes to oils and concentrates, knowing the type of concentrates is essential as there are many different types, from diamonds and sauce to live resin and live rosin. 

You need to understand how you administer these, whether using a dab rig, a nectar collector, a dab vape pen, or a distillate pen. 

Here too, knowing the flavors of the strains are essential. But even more important is your ability to effectively communicate how long it takes to feel the effects given the administration route and consumption methods.

For instance, a dab or a joint can hit within a minute or two, while edibles can take 2-3 hours to get the high you want. 

You will need to advise new customers to go low and slow when taking edibles or puffs off a vape. 

It is easy to overdo it if you don’t wait long enough to let the effects hit. That’s when people tend to “green out,” causing them to feel ill.

The most critical step is to know what to advise people regarding any ailments the customer has. 

Knowing the effects of each product and what conditions they help out with the most will help improve your budtending skill set, which will make you a more valuable contribution as a budtender.

But know your cannabis products inside and out. Know which gummies have staying power and which produce a milder buzz. 

Which strains will help for sleep and which will keep you alert. Educate yourself, whether online or by taking a course.

Bundtender Legals 

While a budtender isn’t a lawyer and cannot offer legal advice, it is vital that you understand the laws concerning cannabis in your state.

For example, it is illegal to carry over an ounce of marijuana flower (which is 28 grams) in most states and no more than 8 grams of concentrates like shatter, terp sauce, oils, etc. 

So a legal marijuana dispensary will not sell individuals more than this.

Knowing these laws can also help you if advising people visiting the area about their possession limits and whether or not your dispensary will accept out of state Medical Marijuana cards.

You also have to be on top when it comes to checking IDs and ensuring whether or not they have a valid, in-state medical marijuana card. 

Or, if it is a recreational dispensary, they are of age (which is usually 21 years and older).

Cannabis Trends

As the face of the cannabis industry, a thoroughly knowledgeable budtender is crucial. That’s why the best budtenders need to keep up-to-date with the latest trends to assist customers better. 

For example, there are a slew of new cannabinoids being isolated and sold, like Delta 8, Delta 10, THCP, and THCh.

But these have not hit too many cannabis companies yet. Still, you are likely to get people asking about them, and having a good solid base of understanding concerning these alternative cannabinoids is a great thing to have. 

You want your dispensary customers or medical marijuana patients to know about medical marijuana and its cannabis by-products. 

Taking care of your marijuana patients is essential to being an effective budtender.

What’s Popular?

Also, knowing which products are flying off the shelves, like cannabis-infused beer and water enhancers, will help you know which cannabis products are needed for inventory management.

Knowing what the up-and-coming products are in the cannabis sector will also make you a better budtender, as you will get to learn firsthand what customers say works for them and what doesn’t. 

So that the next time they come in, you will have a new product that they could try and see if they get better results.

Having a passion and getting to know your cannabis customers will make you stand out and ensure that your medical or recreational customers have the best possible experience.

Tradeshows Can Be Helpful

If available in your area, make sure you attend cannabis trade shows, research products ahead of time, and learn about the different growers the dispensary works with and what strains they have created recently. 

This will make you an excellent budtender. You do not need a certification, but training yourself will make a huge difference as a successful budtender for your customers.

The cannabis industry has a lot of information on it on the web. We recommend that you read through medically reviewed articles and websites known for their dedication to the industry, like us here at Nature and Bloom to learn more about cannabis science. 

Or attend training programs like Trichome Institute for certification. They have a wide range of information that will boost your knowledge and improve your budtender skills through training to help your customers better when you get a budtender job.

Give it a shot, and you will see all the different things there are to learn about. It will blow your mind.

Customer Service

If you want to make great tips and be an outstanding budtender, then you need to be a master at customer service. 

Even when you have a line up out the door, you still take the time to ensure each customer gets the service they deserve.

A friendly smile, pointing out new products they might not have tried before or offering them a higher concentrated product will help both the client and you.

Being a personable, a natural teacher, and a friendly person is key to getting hired at a dispensary. 

Above all, budtenders need to offer a high level of customer service, providing an excellent end-to-end customer experience.

If your customer isn’t smiling when they leave the dispensary with their canna-goodies, you know you did something wrong.

weed leaves illustrated

Quick Maths

The majority of dispensaries use cash only. So you have a good head for numbers. You will also need to be able to work a cash register.

Some dispensaries require you to fill out inventory sheets and calculate tax on goods using nothing but a calculator.

The best budtenders have excellent money counting and math skills that are crucial.

You will also have to know to determine the amounts of weed people order. Then can order from a gram to an ounce, and you must know what an eighth is, a quarter, and a half-ounce for starters.

You also should be used to handing a lot of cash, making deposits in the safe, and at the bank if needed.

Remembering prices for the products will also make the process easier. And calculating what goes into the tip jar is also essential. You don’t want to be shorting the cash with simple math mistakes.

You also have to stay on top of promos for current items and how that impacts pricing. Letting your customers know of the daily or weekly promotions is a great way to make extra tips and help your customers save them money.

You will also be responsible for counting your till and entering all the information into the inventory at the end of the day.

If your math skills are rusty, brush them up, and you will be set.

Budtender Training Programs

As of yet, there isn’t one single source for budtender training. Most employees are trained in cannabis knowledge at the dispensary. 

However, there are some approved cannabis vendor training providers for specific states.

For example, there is 360 training, but they have yet to be approved all over the US for their responsible cannabis handling course. 

There is also the Cannabis training university that offers cannabis training programs. If you feel like forking over the cash, these are beneficial to have on your resume.

There are also other aspects of budtending like opening and closing the shop, performing inventory tasks, janitorial duties, opening and closing the shop, and more. 

Be sure you are ready to perform a slew of tasks that vary day to day.

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How Do You Become A Budtender?

So, here’s the obvious – You need to be hired by a dispensary to become a budtender. So apply to your local dispensary for a job!

As discussed earlier, at the moment most states will not need any certifications. But as the legalization of marijuana continues to spread in the growing cannabis industry, this might change in the future. So hop on board now.

If you can focus on what makes a great budtender, as we discussed, you will have a heads up on most people.

Communicate Well To Impress

In your cover letter or interview, make sure to demonstrate the extensive knowledge you have concerning cannabis knowledge.

Discuss terpenes, your understanding of strains, what happens to weed when not correctly stored, and the varieties of cannabinoids and how they work together to produce the entourage effect.

Show them why they should hire you, and if you are serious about the business and show that to them, you are much more likely to be hired over someone coming in with little to no understanding of what it takes to be a successful budtender.

Wrapping Up Budtending

My best advice is to read up on all there is to know about budtending and the growing cannabis industry, both for medical and recreational use.

Once you think you know something, ten more things will pop up. So you should enjoy keeping up with the industry.