So You Want to Be a Budtender? 7 Things You Need to Consider

September 11, 2023

So, you're interested in becoming a budtender? Before you apply, make sure to consider these 7 things:

Maybe you live in a state about to legalize cannabis, or you are avoiding carpel tunnel from being bound to your laptop, or maybe the pandemic gutted the tips at your bartending gig…whatever the reason, here you are scouring the internet to find out if you have what it takes to be a budtender in a weed dispensary. On behalf of the entire legal cannabis community, I beg you to do these 7 things before you jump in half-baked:

1. Educate Yourself about Cannabis

It's essential to understand that being a regular cannabis user doesn't automatically make you an expert! To excel in this field, you need to gather knowledge about various aspects of the plant, how extracts are made, what creates different scents and flavors, and how it affects the body. Staying updated on the latest developments in the cannabis industry is vital.

Our customers are interested in more than just THC potency; they also inquire about things like CBG, THCA, product safety, and specific weed components like Myrcene. As science continues to uncover more about cannabis, customers ask even more questions. While you'll receive some training on the job, there's simply too much to learn in the limited work hours.

Successful budtenders typically have a solid understanding of cannabis before starting the job and maintain a passion for ongoing learning. So, if you want to thrive in this role, dive deep into cannabis knowledge and stay curious about the ever-evolving world of weed.

2. Put on your Customer Service Smile

In this job, you'll serve all kinds of people who use cannabis. You might chat with older folks about products like lube, and you'll sometimes get scolded for suggesting something less strong to someone who's been smoking for a long time. You'll also spend time explaining the THC levels in pre-rolled joints to young customers who come in for a cheap $5 joint every day. You'll need to know how to discuss things like terpenes and numbers with experienced cannabis users, and then switch gears to help someone who prefers CBD without THC.

This is a retail job where you serve the general public, and because it's a physical store that invests in advertising, customers expect friendly, efficient, and suitable service. What's great about working with customers in this industry is that most of them are wonderful and happy to be there, making it a pleasure to assist them.

3. Get to know Medical Products

Most people who use cannabis are using it for medical reasons, whether they have a medical card or not. They use cannabis to help with things like sleep problems, anxiety, concentration, pain relief, sexual issues, appetite, and pretty much any health issue you can think of. Sometimes, when I talk to people who use cannabis every day, I realize they're using too much THC to treat a problem that could be helped with a medical product.

With all the research and new products available, you can guide people to keep their recreational use fun by helping them discover various options like tinctures, sprays, capsules, suppositories, and other products that can be used for medical reasons.

It's also important to know that many of our customers come to us when they're feeling really desperate. They might have tried lots of other things, had bad experiences with regular medicine, and might be scared to try cannabis products. So, you need to be professional and well-informed to help them feel comfortable and find the right product without adding to their anxiety.

4. Research the type of Dispensary you want to work for

Before you decide to work at a dispensary, it's essential to do some homework. Each dispensary is unique because it has different owners, which means they have their own style, atmosphere, and goals in the cannabis world. To find the best match for you, visit a few dispensaries in different parts of town and really think about what suits you.

As you explore, you'll notice some key differences. First, there's pricing – some dispensaries charge more than others. Then, there's the range of products they offer; some have a lot to choose from, while others have a smaller selection. And don't forget customer service – it can vary quite a bit.

Some dispensaries invest a lot of money to make their space look like an art gallery, while others make do with whatever building they can find. There's no one-size-fits-all answer; it's about finding the dispensary that matches your taste.

Think of it like picking your favorite type of pizza – there's no right or wrong choice, just different options. So, explore, reflect, and pick the one that feels like the best fit for you in the cannabis industry.

5. Sell to the customer, not yourself

Focus on the customer, not yourself. This can be challenging for many budtenders, but it's crucial because it will greatly impact people's lives. You have to sell them what they want and need, not just what you personally like. To do this, you must listen carefully. (You can look up "active listening" online and practice it with everyone in your life).

Pay attention to what's not said explicitly, ask questions to clarify, and really hear what they're telling you. For instance, if someone mentions they have anxiety, and you give them a Super Silver Haze just because you think it's the best, you could harm their well-being. Your responsibility is to listen, understand their needs, use your product knowledge, and acknowledge that the customer is trusting you to be the expert.

In simpler terms, it's like being a good friend who listens and gives advice based on what the other person needs, not just what you like. It's about helping people, and that's the heart of the job.

6. Have Realistic Expectations

Employee turnover is a significant issue in this industry, and I believe it's because some folks have unrealistic expectations about the job. First and foremost, you must realize that this is a retail job, with a bit of bartending mixed in. You'll have many repetitive conversations, work nights and weekends dealing with similar customer complaints, and encounter negative coworkers occasionally.

When it comes to pay, it varies from person to person. Some are thrilled with what they earn selling weed, while others think they should get more.

Keep in mind that this is a new industry, primarily consisting of startups and small family-owned businesses. So, don't expect the same perks and opportunities as big corporations. One of the most common complaints is the limited chance for career growth within the company. Unfortunately, this won't change until these businesses become more profitable and can expand to offer more leadership positions.

In simpler terms, working in the cannabis industry isn't all glitz and glamour; it's a regular job with its ups and downs, just like any other.

7. Be Honest about your Motivation

Be honest about why you want to work as a budtender; it's a key reason why some people struggle or end up unhappy in the role. Many folks don't truly understand their motivation for joining the industry. They expect the job to provide everything they want in life: purpose, acceptance, friendships, fun, health, and financial freedom.

If you're just looking to make a lot of money while continuing to use cannabis without developing any other skills, you might quickly grow unhappy. You might start hating your schedule, feeling deserving of a promotion, needing more money, and disliking the repetitive aspects of the job.

If you genuinely love the cannabis industry, I recommend having a hobby, side project, or skillset you're developing outside of work. This helps satisfy your need for personal growth, keeps your attitude positive, and positions you to seize opportunities as they arise.

Remember, while advancement within one store might be limited, the cannabis industry offers many opportunities for those with the right skills. Budtending can be rewarding and fun, but it's still a job, not a magic solution to all of life's problems.


There ya have it folks, let this sink in and work with it as you are processing your next move. If you want a fun gig to sustain you while in college, working on your side business, or supplement your income, I can’t imagine a more rewarding and enjoyable place to work. If you are looking to make a career in the cannabis industry, I recommend budtending as the first step to building your resume, exploring your passions and meeting the incredibly compassionate, eccentric, holistic, and loving community of cannabis.

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