How Much Can You Make as a Budtender?

Ellie Herring/Nov 26, 2019

hero-graphic-How Much Can You Make as a Budtender?

Budtending is a great place to start in the cannabis industry. With pay ranging from $12 to $18 per hour, depending on experience and location, budtender jobs typically pay higher than minimum wage and offer some great experience in the budding industry.

Budtending jobs are some of the most popular positions in retail cannabis. Who wouldn’t want to talk about cannabis all day? As the face of the business, budtenders are responsible for providing a top-notch dispensary experience for retail shoppers and/or medical patients. Most dispensaries see a wide range of consumers, so budtenders must remain flexible and accommodate many types of requests. Some shoppers are completely inexperienced and require strong guidance for finding the right product, while others consider themselves cannabis connoisseurs and want to chat with someone who understands the terpene and cannabinoid profiles of the strain.

While at its core budtending is a retail customer service job, the position demands a high level of cannabis and regulatory knowledge, which makes this position unique from any other retail industry. Budtending may seem like a dream job, is it the right career for you? Our 2019 cannabis industry salary guide uncovered the average pay for budtender jobs. Let’s dive into the compensation, requirements and path of a career for a budtender to find out if this popular cannabis job is the right fit for your goals.


tip jar

We collected the average pay for budtenders from legal cannabis businesses across the U.S. Budtenders are typically paid hourly. From our data, we found that budtenders make on average, $14.90 per hour. Some companies pay closer to $12.50 per hour, while others paid up to $18 per hour. The compensation depends on the location, experience and company. Minimum wage in Colorado is $11.10 per hour, while in California, it’s $12 per hour. So, budtenders do make above minimum wage in two of the most well-known adult-use states.

Additionally, many dispensaries have a tip jar. Each location chooses how to divide the tips. For some dispensaries, the tips are collected and evenly split with everyone for that shift. For others, you keep the tips you specifically earn. Some dispensaries don’t collect tips at all. If the ability to earn some extra cash during your shift is important, make sure to look for locations that accept tips when applying to budtending jobs.


Budtender hours vary by location, but many budtenders are required to work weekends, evenings and/or holidays. As dispensaries are retail locations, they see increased traffic during the holidays, so be prepared to sacrifice some holidays for the job. In addition, dispensaries often open early and close late, so availability from around 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. or even later is likely for many dispensaries. In cities like Las Vegas, some dispensaries are open 24 hours a day, so shift times can vary greatly.

If you’re new to budtending, chances are you’ll need to work weekends, evenings and holidays. Again, it varies by location, but those with more seniority will likely have more flexibility with their schedule and those new to budtending or new to the company will need to cover the shifts requested by management. If you have time restrictions, make sure to bring up your needs while interviewing to avoid any scheduling conflicts. You may be able to find a dispensary that can work within your scheduling needs.


cannabis budtender product

While some businesses prefer budtenders with previous experience, many dispensaries will hire budtenders that are new to the industry. A passion for cannabis and a willingness to learn are a must. As a budtender, you’ll get tons of questions about cannabis, different products and consumption methods, strain effects and more. While some dispensaries will train you on these questions, knowing the basics of cannabis, common strains and consumption methods and popular products in your area are important areas to study for aspiring budtenders.

Prior customer service or retail experience is an advantage as well. Budtenders are the face of the company and interact with customers or patients all day, so it’s important for budtenders to know how to provide a valuable and memorable customer experience.

Cannabis is a highly-regulated industry, which means budtenders must strictly abide by the rules. Just like bartenders, budtenders are responsible for making sure the transaction is legal by checking IDs, making sure the quantity does not exceed the daily limit and the sale is properly tracked and recorded. Failure to do so could result in legal action against both the company and budtender. Yes, you could face legal charges for overselling the limit or selling to minors. Budtenders must be sticklers for following the rules, no exceptions.

Finally, some states require a badge or agent card to work in the industry. Dispensary employees must be over 21 years of age and in most cases, must pass a background check. For the full list of your state’s requirements, check out our requirements by state tool.

cannabis career position advancement chart


While budtending is one of the most popular jobs in retail cannabis, it’s not the only job. If you’re hoping to advance in your budtending career, there are multiple opportunities available. Some dispensaries have a budtender team leader position that manages a team of budtenders.

Another common position for dispensaries is a general manager. General managers oversee the entire dispensary operation. Most general managers have budtending experience or come from a budtending background. As the dispensary managers must know the ins and outs of the dispensary, budtending is a great place to start if you want to advance to this position. General managers at dispensaries make an average of $56,000, with some companies paying closer to $35,000 and others paying up to $90,600. Obviously, this range varies greatly depending on education, experience, location and dispensary.

The opportunities in retail cannabis are promising. If you’re passionate about joining the industry and are ready to start applying for budtending jobs, sign up for our GIGS platform to check out listings near you. Budtending is a great place to start in the industry and offers access to advancement opportunities in the industry. Best of luck in your search!

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