In case you haven’t noticed, the cannabis industry in the United States is growing at an unprecedented rate, so much so that it’s expected to grow about 18% each year for the next six years. In Maryland, that growth translates to millions in tax revenue and thousands of jobs. If you’d like to work in one of the fastest-growing industries, there are lots of career paths to explore, one of which is a budtender.
If you’d like to become a budtender, here’s what you need to know about the position.
What’s a budtender?
According to Wikipedia, a butender is “a staff member who works within a dispensary or store where medical or recreational cannabis is sold.” It sounds pretty straightforward, but a budtender is so much more than just a staff member. In Maryland, budtenders help medicinal cannabis patients find the best medicine for whatever is ailing them, be it seizures, PTSD, or any other qualifying medical condition. Plus, they’re usually the first person a customer sees, so they quite literally are the “face” of most dispensaries.
Budtenders are essential workers, too! For example, during the COVID-19 pandemic, dispensaries nationwide stayed open amidst closures and in many states, budtenders and other dispensary workers were eligible for vaccines as soon as they became available to the public.
What’s the training look like?
The education and training requirements for budtenders vary from state to state, and in most cases, applicants will need at least a high school diploma or equivalent. Some cannabis dispensaries will train budtenders, while others may look for budtender certification. If you’d like to get a job as a budtender at your favorite dispensary, it doesn’t hurt to ask what kind of training or qualifications they’re looking for in an ideal applicant.
Many budtenders get their experience on the job. Still, it’s important to have the basics down. You can explore our blog to learn some cannabis basics ahead of your interview, including our concentrates guide, the differences between indica, sativa, and hybrid strains, and how to use cannabis extracts.
What do budtenders do every day?
Budtenders spend most of their time interacting with patients and helping them find the right medicinal products for their specific medical issues. This is what’s expected of budtenders on a day-to-day basis:
- Educate patients about all aspects of cannabis, including dosing and consumption methods
- Adhere to all state and county regulations
- Recommend the appropriate products to patients
- Facilitate sales transactions (i.e., work the register)
- Provide a high standard of customer service
- Answer questions, handle products, and showcase products being sold
- Maintain knowledge of inventory and be able to locate specific products quickly
- The ability to up-sell and cross-sell products
- Engage with patients in conversation and retain them as customers
As you can see, budtenders are expected to perform a variety of tasks throughout the course of a typical day. They should be well-rounded individuals who work best as part of a team.
What skills should a budtender have?
Since it’s primarily a customer-facing job, previous experience as a cashier or in a customer service role can help set you apart from other applicants. Aside from cannabis industry experience, customer service or sales experience is actually the most important qualification for budtending. As mentioned before, budtenders are the “face” of most dispensaries and can make or break a patient’s view of a dispensary, so budtenders should be approachable, friendly, and should be able to stay calm in stressful situations.
Outside of customer service experience, budtenders should have in-depth knowledge of the cannabis industry, including current policies on recreational or medicinal cannabis in your state. Once hired, your manager should be able to keep you up-to-date with the latest laws and regulations in Maryland.
How much do budtenders make?
Since cannabis is still illegal on a federal level, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics doesn’t report on pay or career outlook projections for any position in the cannabis industry, budtenders included. One website claims that the average budtender salary in the United States ranges from $36,000-$43,000 a year, but in some markets, the top 10% can make up to $54,000/year. Ultimately, the rate of pay for budtenders depends on a variety of factors, including location and experience.
With so much anticipated growth in the industry, we anticipate that the career outlook for budtenders will continue to remain positive for the foreseeable future.
How to find a budtender position
The best way to find jobs in the cannabis industry is to keep an eye on job boards and career sites that are specific to the cannabis industry, like Vangst. If there’s a particular dispensary you’d like to work at, keep an eye on their job boards, too. Here is ours, in case you’re curious!
Good luck on finding your dream job in the cannabis industry!