Tips and tricks on how to become a successful budtender

Published Sep 21, 2019 10:00 a.m. ET
iStock / AYEHAB

Now that federal marijuana legalization has swept the nation, there is a fresh new influx of exciting careers available within the cannabis industry. Though there are plenty of specialized positions like ‘Master Grower’ that can take years and even decades to obtain, some of the most popular and easiest to get are dispensary jobs. Consumers are frequently drawn to the more visible positions like budtender, but budtender jobs aren’t quite as easy as they might first appear.

If you were wondering how to become a budtender, including some of the less talked about aspects of the job like average pay scales, then you have come to just the right place. Budtender jobs can start as low as minimum wage, but higher scale dispensaries and specialized facilities can pay as much as $60 000 per year. Next, you will probably want to know what it takes to become a budtender, and not just to get the job, but to be good at it. Here you will find tips, tricks and advice to help steer you in the right direction on becoming the most successful budtender that you can be.

1. Get 100% comfortable with cannabis products
Though this first tip might sound like a no brainer, it is important to get completely comfortable with all different types of weed products. Many consumers think that the experience of smoking marijuana is enough, but the truth is that technology and the market has advanced to the point where there are hundreds of unique cannabis products to choose from, and if all you know is bud, then you probably aren’t going to be the best fit for a budtender job.

2. Keep up with the latest cannabis research
When customers come into their local dispensary, one of the first things they might do is strike up a polite conversation based on the latest and most talked-about trends and news stories. While a budtender can’t be expected to know absolutely everything, spending at least an hour per week scanning the internet and local newspapers for information is highly recommended. That way, you will have something to chat about with customers while they shop, which can help to make them feel more comfortable about making purchases through your establishment.

3. Offer only legitimate advice
Right from the very first purchase, a budtender must work to garner customers trust and avoid providing incorrect advice or information that can be damaging to the dispensary or even result in losing sales. It is very important to fact check and question all stereotypes that you might still believe as fact, as consumers require accurate information to make informed decisions.

4. Find an area to specialize in
The marijuana plant is a mystical species that contains a vast wealth of elements that are nearly impossible to memorize entirely, but if you choose one topic or aspect to focus your research on, you will find that it is much easier to work with customers. Choose to dedicate your time towards medical patients, recreational consumers or a specific method of ingestion like vapers so that you can offer an in-depth, more personalized experience for anyone who walks through the door of your workspace.

5. Consider certification for dispensary jobs
Most people are aware that growing facilities and other management positions will require at least some kind of schooling or formal education to achieve, but most don’t realize that there are courses both online and in-person that you can take to hone and enhance your budtender skills, to a more professional level. Even unrelated subject like ‘how to grow cannabis’ or a culinary class can give you an advantage over other employees, which can help you to achieve success in the field.


6. Avoid stereotyping customers
We might all try our best to be professional and composed while on the clock at work, but we are only human, and people make mistakes. One of the most common situations that budtenders face is due to something so ingrained in who we are that it is difficult to change, and that is our confirmation of some of the most popular stoner stereotypes. For example, when a customer walks in and looks like someone you would expect to be a laid-back recreational consumer, it is best not to assume. That person might have a really low tolerance or who may be seeking medical options, and with the taboo that still floats around the subject, some customers won’t take kindly to this kind of stereotype driven assumption.

7. Become familiar with weed accessories
So, you know how to smoke weed, but do you know how to grind it up using different tools? What about how to turn raw cannabis bud flowers into potent concentrates or edibles, or the many benefits of juicing with decarboxylation? Though these often-overlooked tools are rarely spoken of, it is important that you know all about how they work, which ones are better, and that is especially true for in house inventory that customers might be interested in purchasing. This information can help you to make sales and recommendations which will ultimately help you to be the most successful budtender.

8. Know all the methods of ingestion
The most commonly used method of ingestion is smoking, and that makes sense, especially in Canada since other products like edibles and concentrates are not yet available. However, there are many different ways that consumers can ingest this delightful plant without rolling it into a blunt or packing a bowl. What you will need is a broad knowledge base that covers the basics of all methods of ingestion, including the difference in effects, and how to work the necessary tools to get the job done.

9. Always be friendly and kind
Dispensary jobs aren’t much different than any other service industry job when it comes to being friendly and polite with all customers. We all have our bad days, and work can get stressful during the busiest times, but it is important to be able to push personal feelings and emotions aside when dealing with interested consumers. A great big smile, a friendly approach and a quick offer to help should be the first things that you offer everyone that walks through the door of your marijuana dispensary, this can help to relieve their anxiety and make them much more likely to make purchases through you.

10. Apply for only legitimate budtender jobs
In Canada, this one can be challenging, especially when you consider the number of black-market dispensaries vs the handful of legal establishments that exist today. However, if you are trying to build up to a successful future as a budtender, and aren’t just looking to make some quick cash, then it is critical that you stick to legal budtender jobs. As the laws and restrictions surrounding cannabis shift, the legal market will flourish, and it is important for any job to maintain a clear criminal background and little to no association with unregulated or illegal activities.

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