How to Become a Budtender

Mike King/Jul 12, 2021

hero-graphic-How to Become a Budtender

Breaking in as a budtender

If you’re familiar with the cannabis industry, there’s a good chance you’re familiar with the position of the budtender. As one of the most visible jobs in cannabis, the budtender is essential to how dispensaries operate and is often a great way to get your start in the cannabis business. We created this guide for anyone who’s interested in how to get started as a budtender. 

So, what’s a budtender? A budtender is a staff member within a dispensary responsible for attending to a customer’s needs. This includes offering product suggestions, answering questions, handling products, and showcasing the products that are sold. Budtenders also ensure the dispensary is abiding by state rules by checking IDs, properly tracking sales, and more. In short, a budtender’s job is to be knowledgeable about the products they sell, personable to the customers inside, and respectful to the laws and rules of the state.

What makes someone a good fit for a budtender? While every dispensary may look for different qualities in their budtender, almost every dispensary likes if you have past experience as a budtender or general experience in the service or retail industries. Whether you’ve moonlit as a bartender, have experience as a cashier, or worked in customer service, dispensaries feel good knowing you’ve had experience interacting with customers and familiarity with retail environments and POS (point-of-sale) systems. Dispensaries also appreciate applicants who show a passion for the cannabis industry, a willingness to learn on the job, and perhaps most importantly, who are the right cultural fit for the company. 

Do I need a license to become a budtender? Every state has its own licenses and requirements for working in cannabis, with the budtender being no exception. For instance, in Colorado, all cannabis workers and budtenders are required to have a state-licensed MED Badge. Your state may have different requirements. Check out our Requirements By State Tool to get a clear picture of the licenses, requirements, and fees you need to meet before applying.

How do I stand out as an applicant? As one of the cannabis industry’s most popular jobs, budtender positions are also fairly competitive, so standing out from other applicants can help you in a big way. Beyond experience as a budtender or experience in the service and retail industries, a passion for cannabis is something every dispensary will be looking for in their next budtender. Dispensaries also appreciate when you’ve done your research ahead of time. This often includes:

  • General familiarity and knowledge around the cannabis plant as well as the types of products sold at the dispensary.
  • Understanding the point-of-sale systems and software the dispensary is using.
  • A grasp on state laws and regulations around cannabis sales, use, and more.

Industry insider tip: Search and apply for “budtender jobs” on Vangst, but get to know the dispensaries and the products they sell before your interview. Trust us, they will be impressed!

How much can I make as a budtender? After crunching the numbers for budtender pay from legal cannabis businesses across the country, we found that budtenders make an average of $14.90 per hour. Some dispensaries pay closer to $12.50 per hour, while others pay up to $18 per hour. Like most jobs, compensation depends on the location, experience and company.  This hourly pay does not reflect the tips that budtenders often earn. Some dispensaries evenly split tips with everyone for that shift while others allow you to keep the tips you earn during your shift. 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 dispensaries that accept tips when applying for budtender jobs.

What kind of schedule can I expect as a budtender? Budtender hours vary by location, but many budtenders, especially new employees, are required to work weekends, evenings and/or holidays. Dispensaries are retail locations and see increased traffic during the holidays, so be prepared to sacrifice some holidays for the job. Also keep in mind that many dispensaries open early and close late, so availability from around 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. or even later is likely if you’re looking to become a budtender yourself. In cities like Las Vegas, some dispensaries are open 24 hours a day, so shift times can vary greatly. Be sure to do your research about specific dispensary hours and holidays ahead of time so there aren’t any surprises during your interview.

Can budtenders level up to other cannabis jobs? While budtending is one of the most popular jobs in retail cannabis, it’s not the only job. If you’re hoping to advance your budtending career, there are all kinds of opportunities available. For instance, many dispensaries have a budtender team leader position that manages a team of budtenders.

Another common dispensary position is general manager. General managers oversee the entire dispensary operation and most general managers come from a budtending background. 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. Like budtending, this range varies depending on experience, location and company. Check out the Vangst Salary Guide to learn more about compensation for these types of jobs.  

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