Online Budtender Training: How to Get Hired & Impress a Dispensary

Everything you need to know about budtenders & some insight into how to become a stand-out dispensary employee with online budtender training.
Cannabis as an industry is exploding across the country. More states are legalizing marijuana and dispensaries are starting to become commonplace in many regions. Due to all of that growth, there is now a growing need for budtenders. In this article, I will provide you with everything you need to know about what a budtender does and give you some insight into how to become a stand-out dispensary employee with online budtender training.

What exactly is a budtender?

A budtender is an employee of a cannabis dispensary who is responsible for processing transactions and educating customers about the products offered. In many ways, they are the face of the cannabis industry because they are who dispensary customers engage with the most.

Looking to become a budtender?

Unmudl offers budtender training courses to help you get hired by the best dispensaries!

Photo by Heath Korvola/Getty Images

How do you become a budtender?

Taking a budtender training course will be one of the best ways to show that you are qualified for a position at a dispensary.

You can take this popular budtender training course and quickly get qualified for bartender jobs. The instructor of this course is MJ Stapley, who left her corporate management career to join the cannabis industry for CV Sciences, a CBD manufacturer.

She combined her passion for sales training and cannabis to develop the MJ Hybrid Training System that is both scientifically accurate and helps employees better sell to customers.

It’s perfect if you have a passion for cannabis but don’t quite have the cannabis knowledge or sales skill set. It’s also great because you can take the course from anywhere in the US.

You might also consider taking other cannabis courses to increase your knowledge of the space. As you’ll see below, being knowledgeable in this field is one of the quickest and easiest ways to stand out.

You never know who you might be able to impress with your industry knowledge and that could be a gateway to a more lucrative career in cannabis. 

What are the duties of a budtender? 

Your duties as a budtender will include: 

  • Interacting with customers
  • Interpreting customers' needs and wants 
  • Processing payments
  • Keeping up with inventory
  • Ensuring regulatory compliance
  • Following checklists
  • Keeping the workplace tidy
  • Checking identification and prescriptions
  • Educating customers on the safe use of cannabis products
  • Keeping up with the latest industry trends and new cannabis products on the market
  • Maintain and use (POS) and METRC systems completely and accurately for all in-store, online, and phone orders
  • Product weighing, packaging, and labeling

You can find an example of budtender duties here.

Photo by Jcomp/Freepik


Do you need to have any kind of official license to be a budtender?

A budtender does not need a license or certification. Because cannabis remains illegal on a national level, there are no national licensing criteria in place. 
As of November 2021, there are 15 states in the US that have legalized recreational marijuana, and another 35 states that have approved medical marijuana.

In states where budtenders are subject to state legislation, they must follow the given protocols.

As an example, the state of Colorado requires cannabis workers to be licensed. You'll require an MED badge from the Colorado Marijuana Enforcement Division, which is an Occupational License, to work as a budtender in Colorado.


Currently, no certification or license is required to work as a budtender in many states, but with the increased legalization of marijuana, certification criteria may be implemented in the future.


The majority of budtenders are self-taught cannabis connoisseurs; however, some are properly trained. Completing cannabis training will improve your chances of finding work as a budtender and demonstrate to clients and employers that they are devoted to offering the greatest quality of service in the Cannabis industry.

Photo by Jcomp/Freepik

What makes a good budtender 

Be knowledgeable 

One of the best ways to be a great budtender is to be knowledgeable. Specifically, you want to be knowledgeable about the products, law, and industry trends.

Products

Cannabis is still a growing industry and there are a lot of people who are newcomers to marijuana and dispensary visits.

On top of that, there are endless strains of marijuana of different potencies that produce a myriad of effects experienced by cannabis users. Customers entering a dispensary need to know what to expect before they purchase a product.

As a budtender you’re likely to get questions like:

  • Is this an upper or downer?
  • Will this help me with my anxiety?
  • How does this taste (fruity, earthy, etc.)
  • What’s your latest good stuff?
  • Will this give me the munchies?

Being knowledgeable about all the products you offer will allow you to accurately answer questions like these. 

You can rely on your own personal experience but it helps a lot if you can pick up on what other customers are saying about the products. So be inquisitive.  

Once you start to build a knowledge base, you can also share your knowledge with your customers to help them better understand the products. 

Perhaps you’ll teach them something about the testing and processing protocols for cannabis in your area or shed some light on the origin of the products. 

It will really help if you can go beyond discussing sativa/Indica and provide insight on things like terpenes, cannabinoids, and strains. By dropping a little nugget of knowledge to your customers you can build trust and more customer loyalty. 

More importantly, if you can apply some critical thinking to that knowledge base you will be able to problem solve with customers and offer them real-time solutions. 

For example, let’s say a customer comes to you and tells you that they are looking for some edibles and flowers to turn down their anxiety, help them sleep, and put them in a good mood --  and they only have $125. 

Being able to come up with a great packaged solution for them on the spot will make you a top-notch budtender.

The law 

Being knowledgeable about the law is also a great asset for a budtender.

People will naturally have questions about what constitutes lawful possession and consumption in your state. 

You’ll need to be able to answer things like, “Can I smoke this in my car?” or “Can I bring this to the park?”

Knowing the laws and penalties associated with breaking those laws is also really valuable information. 

If you can also brush up on the law in neighboring states you’ll also be able to help out a lot of customers who come in from out-of-state. 

Having a thorough grasp of the law will help inspire confidence in your customers and show that you care about their well-being and not just getting a sale from them. 

Industry trends 

Staying knowledgeable about the latest industry trends is another way to excel.

There are constantly new products available and as a budtender it will help if you are familiar with the major players in the space.

If you have the time to attend conventions or trade shows that can help accelerate your learning curve as well as allow you to network for job opportunities.

Commit to learning

You’ll be fielding a lot of questions from people and chances are you will not have all the answers. 

Instead of trying to act like you know it all and giving answers based on speculation, take time to note those questions that you don’t have an answer for. 

Then, do some research so that you can become better educated for the next customer. You’ll find that you can learn a lot of the things you need to know on your own but that it will take time. 

But if you can combine your experiences with some type of cannabis course to expedite your learning, that might be the best combination.

Customer service

Being very knowledgeable about the different products will help you offer great customer service but knowledge is only one element needed. You need to help people feel comfortable during their dispensary visit. Some people still get nervous just stepping foot in the dispensary and it’s very easy for them to also feel overwhelmed by all of the options. 

Remember, marijuana is still illegal in a lot of places and in those places where it is legalized it’s still a very new thing. 

A good budtender will put customers at ease and give them confidence in what they are purchasing. Having the ability to be positive even on days when you’re not feeling your best will be a huge attribute.

Enjoy helping people

One of the biggest complaints about being a budtender is that it is essentially a retail job. There’s definitely truth to that statement but it can be much more. 

For example, it offers networking opportunities if you are willing to take advantage of them. But perhaps one of the biggest things is that it offers the ability to genuinely help people in need.

You likely will be dealing with medical marijuana patients or at least customers who have medical needs and are turning to marijuana for help. These are people who are experiencing chronic pain and symptoms like seizures, migraines, and other major health ailments. 

By introducing them to products that work for their issues you can literally help change their life. 

That’s something that a lot of “retail jobs” just can’t offer. 

By taking time to give them the attention they need you can impact them in a positive way that incentivizes them to return. Just make sure that you read up on any limitations that you may have for giving medical advice.

Be a good salesperson 

Being knowledgeable and offering great customer service will help secure a lot of sales but you still will need to be able to close at the right moment. A dispensary is not a place to apply used-car salesman techniques, though. 

You want to avoid being too pushy because it will turn a lot of people off.

Remember, cannabis is used medicinally by a lot of people even if they don’t have a medical marijuana license. 

Pushing a therapeutic treatment too hard on people can be a major turn off because you can come off as prioritizing getting a sale over someone’s health. 
Focus on being helpful and genuine rather than making exaggerated claims and typical sales talk. 

Also, dispensaries are pretty chill environments. Bringing an overly “salesy” attitude into that type of atmosphere is not always welcomed. You have to learn to strike the right balance. 

Be a good listener 

Your customers will come in a lot of different forms. Some will know exactly what they want, others will not have the slightest clue of where to start. Some customers will know a lot about cannabis while others will be extremely misinformed.

One segment of your customers will be interested in finding products that fit their exact needs and preferences. For these customers, you want to be the best listener you can. Try not to cut off your customers and let them feel heard. Hone in on exactly what it is they are asking about.   

Then, be engaging and use your knowledge to provide them with the right solution for their needs. 

Be articulate

When it is finally time for you to talk, it’s super important to be a great communicator. You don’t want customers second-guessing the effects of a certain strain or doubting your expertise on the effects they will be expecting. 

You need to be able to convey information clearly and confidently. 

Be well organized

A lot of customers head to dispensaries to buy a wide range of products. On larger orders, it’s not uncommon for someone to purchase multiple types of cartridges, edibles, pre-rolls, flowers, tinctures, etc. You need to be able to keep track of the different products that your customer is ordering.

In addition, you want to pay close attention to detail to make sure you are not mixing things up when it comes to things like the milligrams, weights, etc. 

Math skills

As a budtender you will be dealing with a lot of cash as a lot of dispensaries do not accept credit cards. This means you’re going to be doing a lot of counting and it helps to be able to quickly process transactions accurately. Customers often walk into a dispensary with a set budget and start picking out items without being able to add the prices up themselves. 

So it is really important that you can help them with the price of their “cart” as they shop around to meet their budget. A lot of dispensaries run promotions and different deals so you also need to be able to apply those discounts properly and be comfortable dealing with cancelled transactions, refunds, etc. Also, you want to remind your customers about certain specials running on certain days of the week.   

Have a great memory

Having a great memory will help you be a stand-out budtender. For one, it really helps when you can instantly recall the different types of strains, edible flavors, and new products that have arrived. 

There’s a good chance that you will also encounter repeat customers. Being able to build a relationship with them and perhaps even have orders ready for them to go will be a great way to increase sales and loyalty to your dispensary. If your memory is not the best, just try to spend extra time memorizing your menu and inventory. Before you know it, it will probably become second nature.

Be disciplined 

It takes discipline to work at a dispensary because you have to deal with regulations and many dispensaries are closely watched with surveillance cameras and subject to inspections. You need to be able to stay disciplined so that you follow the guidelines and policies in place and don’t start to slack.

Photo by alena_bonn/Freepik

Can you be a budtender with a criminal record?

Criminal conviction restrictions are an attempt to predict future public safety hazards based on past behavior. These limits are argued in most industries as essential for consumer safety.

Those with specific criminal convictions are prohibited from working in the marijuana industry by state licensing authorities in almost all states. Other states include "good moral character" clauses that allow licensing authorities to reject an applicant based on their criminal history.

All marijuana sector employees should have their criminal records checked, according to the authorities. 
It is possible that a conviction, whether felony or misdemeanor, will not automatically disqualify you if it meets certain requirements. For example, if it is over five or ten years old, it may not be a big deal. 
In some states, such as Illinois, it is illegal to register or apply for certains programs if you have specific criminal convictions.

How much does a budtender make? 

As of 2021, the average salary for a budtender in the United States is $34,179 per year. In addition to that salary you can often get a pretty good discount at the dispensary. For example, you might be able to get 35% off all cannabis products and 50% off accessories.


Frequently Asked Questions

Is working as a budtender a reasonable job?

Budtender roles are excellent stepping stones to higher-level positions in the cannabis industry. The job provides opportunities to network with industry professionals and make a good overall impression on your resume.

What is the minimum age to work as a budtender?

Local minimum age limit ranges from 18 to 21 years of age.

Who is eligible to be a budtender?

The best budtenders are passionate about cannabis, have in-depth product knowledge, thrive on providing exceptional customer service and having a strong work ethic.

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