As the medical and recreational cannabis industry grows, more jobs in the industry are becoming available. One career opportunity in the cannabis industry that you can explore is a career as a budtender. These industry professionals are an integral part of the sales process in dispensaries, where they are usually the front-facing individuals who serve customers.
If you're interested in a career as a budtender, there are several aspects of the career field you'll need to know about. In this article, we'll explore what a budtender is, what they do, where they work, how you can find a job as a budtender and some tips to help you achieve success in the role.
What is a budtender?
Budtenders are the sales associates who work in legal dispensaries that sell medical and recreational cannabis. Budtenders are typically entry-level employees who serve customers that purchase cannabis products and they work with other professionals in customer service roles to assist and provide suggestions and advice to customers who visit medical and recreational cannabis dispensaries.
Since the legalization of medical and recreational cannabis is on the rise, budtenders can find a range of career opportunities in the growing industry. Depending on where you live, you can start your career as a budtender and advance to other roles within the medical and recreational cannabis industry.
What do budtenders do?
Budtenders fill a similar role to bartenders, where they fulfill product orders and provide customer service. However, unlike serving beverages, budtenders assist customers by making product suggestions, educating them on various products and providing advice on available product selections. Depending on the nature of the dispensary, budtenders can perform many different tasks, but the common job responsibilities you can expect to take on in this career include:
- Guiding first-time customers with product selection
- Attending trade shows and seminars to learn about new products, partner dispensaries and meet with industry experts
- Recommending the appropriate products for customers with both medical and recreational needs
- Learning about their customers so they can provide proper suggestions specific to what customers are looking for
- Staying up-to-date on industry trends and issues
- Ensuring dispensary operations adhere to legal and regulatory protocols
Where do budtenders work?
Budtenders work in cannabis dispensaries that provide medical and recreational products to their customers. States that have legalized medical and recreational cannabis or both have seen the growth of these dispensaries, and if you live in a state where this is the case, you can find job opportunities as a budtender. Additionally, the work environment of a dispensary is much like a cafe, where customers come in and browse a menu of selections. Many budtenders work full-time, however, budtending can make an excellent part-time opportunity, too.
How to become a budtender
The educational requirements to become a budtender can vary between states and cannabis dispensaries, however, there are a few steps you can take to get into the career. Consider the following approaches to start your career as a budtender:
1. Have your high school diploma
Budtenders generally aren't required to complete post-secondary education, however, you will need a high school diploma for the job. Some dispensaries may require you to attend employee training, where you can learn customer service techniques, dispensing processes, how to prepare different products, delivery methods and other important aspects of the industry and dispensary's practice.
2. Pursue optional certification
Although it's not a requirement, you can find opportunities to become certified as a budtender through different online educational and training programs. For instance, Green Cultured offers the Dispensary Technician Certification credential, which can demonstrate your industry and product knowledge. These types of certification programs may require you to take and pass an exam, and the topics you cover in a training program may focus on industry trends, medical and recreational products and other cannabis topics.
3. Gain industry experience
When you begin your career as a budtender, gain as much industry experience as you can. For example, find opportunities to attend trade shows, networking events and product seminars. Research new products and find ways to contribute to your dispensary's sales goals. As you gain more experience on the job, you can likely find opportunities for advancement.
4. Obtain state work permits
Depending on where you live, your state may require you to have a work permit in order to dispense cannabis products. If you do need to obtain your state's workers' permit for being a budtender, you may need to take an exam. Additionally, some states may have a minimum age requirement, where prospective budtenders must be a certain minimum age to qualify for licensing.
5. Take advantage of additional opportunities
There are many opportunities for advancement in the industry, and starting your career as a budtender is a great place to start. As you learn more about the industry, products, extraction processes, medical effects and benefits and other facets of legal cannabis, you can find job opportunities as an outside sales director, a product specialist or even as a dispensary owner yourself. If you have a background in organic chemistry, biology or another science-related field, you may find opportunities in top-tier industry roles, such as a master extractor or as a lab technician.
Tips to succeed as a budtender
Working as a budtender requires strong transferable skills and the ability to work with diverse professionals and customers. Consider the following tips as you start your career so you can achieve success:
- Develop your customer service techniques: Strengthen your customer service skills by taking the time to interact with customers who visit your dispensary and learning about their preferences and needs. Learn how to apply techniques that not only fulfill the customer's needs, but up sell the dispensary's products and services as well.
- Learn about the industry: Keep developing your knowledge of the industry. For instance, you'll need to stay updated on all the newest cannabis products, regulatory protocols, delivery methods and other aspects of budtending. Knowing all of these aspects of your job is highly important to provide the best service to your customers.
- Stay current with legal regulations: Always check in with updated marijuana legislation, new operational regulations and any other legal actions and issues within the cannabis industry. This will ensure that you're always in compliance with what's required in your state.
- Build your professional network: It's important to continuously be in contact with partner dispensaries and industry professionals, as this adds to your network. Networking is highly beneficial for connecting with new markets, finding new product offerings for your customers and meeting others who can contribute to the success of your dispensary.
- Learn your products: Budtenders have a deep knowledge of the products their dispensaries carry. From smokeable products to edibles to tinctures, budtenders must know every product on their shelves so they can best serve their customers. Take the time to review your dispensary's inventory, learn about the ingredients in your products and learn how these products can affect your customers.
- Take initiative as a representative: Being a budtender essentially means you're representing your dispensary and the products it sells. Take initiative to educate customers, introduce new products and work to build a positive brand image for your dispensary.