Budtender Study Guide (Everything You Should Know) 2022

Budtenders are experts who work in marijuana dispensaries. They are guides on selecting the right strains, correct dosage, and product safety.
With an increasing number of states legalizing marijuana for medical or recreational purposes, there are numerous new job opportunities in the burgeoning cannabis industry. Budtending is one of the industry's hottest jobs. The budtender is the face of the cannabis industry for customers. Budtenders assist customers in locating the best products for their needs and learning more about the advantages of cannabis use. In this study guide, we will take you through everything you need to know about being a Budtender - how much do they make? How do you become one? What is the difference between different products?… so let’s get started.
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With only 15 states legalizing marijuana in any form, the burgeoning cannabis industry is creating new job opportunities.

A budtender, like a bartender, is a mixologist for cannabis, edibles, oils, and vaping liquids for each customer. 

A strong budtending team is one of the most powerful aspects of any dispensary. Budtenders, also known as sales associates, interact with customers, educate them on your store's cannabis products, and ultimately make sales.

Budtenders must be friendly, knowledgeable about the cannabis industry, knowledgeable about your product line, and capable of handling whatever the day throws at them.

The secret to being a great budtender (or cannabis employee in general) is not one single best practice, but rather a combination of doing many small things well, consistently, and always putting the customer or patient first.

If you want to work in the legal marijuana industry, here is the budtender guide for beginners to get you started and show you how to become a budtender.

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Budtender study guide 2022

'How do I become a Budtender' is usually the first question asked by many people hoping to break into the growing cannabis industry. 

Medical marijuana dispensaries are now a common sight in many urban and even suburban areas across the United States. Why would you not want to be a part of this exciting new industry?

However, it can be intimidating, especially for those who are new to the scene. Getting that dream budtender job can seem impossible.

As medical marijuana legalization spread throughout the last couple of decades, the budtender position has become even more prominent, particularly in Washington, California, and Colorado. 

The specific needs and requirements of the budtender job have evolved and what had previously felt like a more marginal "drug sales" job has become more of a helpful advisory position. Budtenders interact with medical marijuana patients in ways that unlicensed dealers have never done.

The legal marijuana business is currently thriving in the United States. The industry had created 211,000 full-time jobs by the end of 2019. There could be thousands of similar opportunities in 2022. There has never been a better time to become a budtender.

But let’s start off by looking at some basics of what a Budtender is and what is expected of him or her.

What Exactly Is A Budtender?

Budtender is a term unique to the cannabis industry. It's also one of the most important jobs in the industry.

A budtender is a person who works the aisles of a marijuana dispensary. This is the point of contact between the cannabis industry and its customers. As a result, the budtender serves as the company's public face.

A budtender is a sort of tour guide; they should be able to engage customers in all things cannabis. Their JD includes 420 lifestyles, culture, history, news, and much more in addition to product information. A budtender is critical to the success of the cannabis industry.

Budtenders' History

The first medical dispensary, The San Francisco Buyers Club, opened in 1992 during the AIDS crisis, marking the birthplace of the budtender role. The term is a play on the words "bud" and "bartender." 

Since the legalization of medical marijuana in the 2000s, the position has evolved significantly. It eventually transformed the budtender's role from that of a casual weed dealer to that of a knowledgeable advisor for medical patients.

What Does a Modern Budtender Look Like?

The budtender is critical to the dispensary ecosystem's survival and expansion. Budtenders are well-known and well-respected medical marijuana advisors. 

In states where recreational adult use is legal, the budtender's knowledge and expertise are critical in ensuring the safety of cannabis consumption. 

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The modern budtender must balance strict rules with individual needs and desires. Because any mistake could have disastrous consequences, dispensaries expect extensive product knowledge from their diverse customer base.

Pros of Working as a Budtender

Bud tending may be the ideal job for some people. Here are a few of the advantages of being a budtender:

  • Bud tending allows you to follow your passion while learning more about cannabis every day
  • Cannabis science is extremely fascinating
  • It is rewarding to assist customers who are experiencing symptoms such as anxiety or pain
  • The cannabis industry is expanding, which is exciting because it is so full of possibilities
  • Budtenders, just like bartenders, make a decent amount of tips.

Cons of Working as a Budtender

However, depending on your personality and work ideas, bud tending may not be for you. Among the disadvantages of budgeting are:

  • Working in customer service is essential in a dispensary, but it can be exhausting. Not everybody is a people person.
  • Bud tending entails business and administrative duties that can be tedious.
Photo by Kindel Media from Pexels
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Things every Budtender should have in 2022

Budtenders must be knowledgeable about cannabis science, so a background in science, chemistry, or botany is advantageous; however, this is not required. Enrolling in a top-rated cannabis school will get you up to speed and prepare you for a budtender job.

Because this is a customer-facing position, customer relations training is also essential. Strong communication and organizational skills are also required.

1. A strong interest in cannabis products and culture

To become a budtender, you must be passionate about marijuana culture and products. 

You'll be interacting with hundreds of customers on a daily basis, and your primary role will be to provide them with detailed information about marijuana products. 

You should also be prepared to listen to your clients and make useful recommendations. Although you may not know every detail about cannabis products when you start, it is critical to be as informed as possible. 

You must be knowledgeable about common strains as well as new cannabis products such as concentrates and vaporizers. You can't be a successful budtender unless you love what you do.

2. Comprehensive Product Knowledge

Nothing is more irritating than a budtender who doesn't understand marijuana. As a budtender, you must be knowledgeable about marijuana strains, cannabinoids, terpenes, and other cannabis properties. 

A budtender should be familiar with how various strains of marijuana look and smell, as well as the effects they have on the body.

The budtender should be able to advise customers on products that are appropriate for their needs. Make sure you have up-to-date information on marijuana extracts, concentrates, and infused products. 

Know how marijuana is grown, processed, and extracted, as well as the physical descriptions, genealogy, and effects on the human body and mind. In other words, you should be passionate about the products you sell.

Further reading: Budtender 101, The basics

3. Know your Cannabinoids and Terpenoids

The chemical profile, or cannabinoid and terpene content, is the single most important detail to consider when recommending a strain. 

Because each harvest and extract run varies due to production factors, this will only be possible with batch-tested products, and lab results would also detect the presence of harmful pesticides and contaminants.

Cannabinoids and terpenes each have their own set of advantages, and while THC and CBD are the two main compounds of interest, there are many more that can help inform your recommendation. 

For example, pinene is a terpene that promotes alertness while combating inflammation. Then there's THCV, which gives cannabis its energizing effects while also suppressing appetite.

Further reading on Leafly: CBD vs. THC: What’s The Difference?

4. Understand your strain groups and how they compare to one another

If a customer inquires about a popular strain, a good Budtender should be familiar with its genetics, how it tastes, what it looks like, what it smells like, and what type of situation it is suitable for.

A detailed guide for further studies: Indica vs. sativa: understanding the differences between weed types

5. Understand Your Patient's Requirements

That brings us to cannabis consumption for medical reasons. The obvious first step in making a strain recommendation is to find out what kind of symptom relief your patient requires. 

When asking, be discreet and respectful, allowing the patient to decide how much or how little information to provide. This is especially important in shops where multiple patients are served at the same time.

Once you've identified your patient's specific symptoms, you can use Leafly's symptom and condition graphic below to find a list of strains.

A graphical representation for the list of strain recommendations f or cannabis consumption

Source: Leafly

6. Comprehensive laws

Cannabis laws differ from one state to the next. Customers should be able to get advice from the budtender on cannabis laws such as how much to buy, where to consume it, how much to carry, and so on.

7. Compliance

Marijuana dispensaries are heavily regulated; the budtender should know all the rules and how to apply them. This includes, among other things, age verification, purchase limits for various cannabis products, how marijuana dispensaries should operate, and packaging laws.

8. Cannabis production

A budtender should have a basic understanding of cannabis cultivation. While this may not be directly related to their job, it is an added benefit for the budtender. A knowledgeable budtender always ends up making regular customers and gets good tips.

9. The costs of various marijuana products

A budtender should be able to compare the prices of marijuana products in the dispensary. They should be aware of the factors that influence pricing and be able to explain and justify pricing differences to customers.

10. Methods of consumption

A budtender should be knowledgeable about the various ways to consume cannabis and be able to advise customers on the same. 

The budtender should also understand how different methods of consumption affect cannabis bioavailability. Prepare to walk new customers through the process. 

Big, complicated dab rigs, in particular, may necessitate some education for those new to cannabis, so take your time and be patient. Be the one to greet them when they arrive.

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11. Marijuana lingo

This is an essential component of budtender training. A budtender should be familiar with cannabis jargon and be able to communicate easily with all types of customers.

12. Hygiene best practices

Working in a marijuana dispensary is similar to working in a pharmacy in that the budtender must always maintain strict hygiene. He must also be able to educate the customers on hygienic practices while using the products.

13. Best practices in customer service

A budtender should be an expert in customer service. They should be able to greet customers with a smile, converse with them easily to build a rapport, and ultimately close sales. 

Customers buy the person selling the product rather than the product itself, making the budtender the most important person in the business.

Photo by Kindel Media from Pexels

Important Budtender qualities you need to land a job

To ensure this guide is helpful in making you a successful Budtender we have included some key qualities that you must have to be successful at this trade. You should also go through this great article on how to impress and get hired as a Budtender.

1. Patience and courtesy

This is a soft skill required for all customer-facing positions. Customers aren't always "pleased and excited to see you." Budtenders will encounter rude and entitled customers on several occasions. 

Other customers may be overbearing, repeatedly asking "dumb" questions. Despite the pressure to lose their cool, the budtender should remain polite and calm. It is part of the job.

2. Being well informed about marijuana trends

This is not required, but it is advantageous if the budtender can personally identify with the 420 culture. This entails going above and beyond to surprise customers with interesting facts or insightful perspectives on marijuana trends.

3. Customer awareness

Some customers who enter a cannabis dispensary will have severe or life-threatening diseases. Other customers, on the other hand, will be looking for euphoria from the newest strain. 

The budtender must quickly determine which group a customer belongs to and treat them accordingly.

4. Sincerity

There will be times when the budtender encounters customers who know far more about marijuana than the budtender. Instead of pretending to be an expert, take the opportunity to admit your lack of knowledge and allow the customer to educate you.

5. The ability to adapt to a changing industry

Budtenders must be adaptable even in states with a long history of legal cannabis markets, such as California. Because cannabis law is constantly changing, dispensary operations, rules, and policies are also subject to change. 

In practice, how does this work? Here are a couple of examples:

  • Budgeting duties may change as laws change, with processes being added or removed from your job description.
  • State cannabis bureaus frequently conduct surprise inspections to ensure that policies and regulations are followed.
  • Small cannabis businesses frequently operate more like start-ups, with budtenders, and everyone else, taking on multiple roles, employees and upper management collaborating, and everyone remaining flexible.

Do you need certification or licensing to become a Budtender?

As of now, no certification or licensing is required to work as a budtender, but with increased legalization, certification standards may become mandatory in the future.

Completing cannabis training will only improve your chances of landing a job as a budtender, and online training from an accredited community college like this GateWay Community College: Budtender Training is the perfect solution.

Training programs are usually reasonably priced, ranging from just over $100 to around $300. The one mentioned above is perfect, costing only $123.75

Final Word

Although the cannabis industry is still in its infancy, with new products, standards, and regulations being introduced every other year, what distinguishes professional budtenders from their peers is their eagerness to learn.

To prove your dedication to the cannabis industry, it makes sense to get your foot in the door as a budtender. And it can lead to other roles because most dispensaries promote from within, so starting as a budtender can lead to roles in marketing, as a grower, upper management, or other areas. 

The nature of the opportunities offered is shaped by the dispensary's hierarchy and its business needs, but this is a solid career path, especially as legalization expands into new markets.

In this guide, we have discussed in detail what it takes to be a Budtender, from knowledge to personal qualities. We hope that the guide was useful and will help you make an informed decision about stepping into this rapidly growing industry.

Frequently Asked Questions

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