A Day in the Life of a Budtender

Thinking about making a career change? Consider working in the cannabis industry! People from all over the United States and Canada are taking advantage of new openings in the legal cannabis job market. Working with cannabis can be incredibly fun and rewarding, especially if you’re able to help the public understand what the plant has to offer. If you have experience with cannabis, retail, or medicinal plant biology, you would be wise to seek out positions as a budtender. This fast growing market has a lot to offer employees both financially and in terms of lifestyle, but it is far from a chill job!

To understand what it’s really like to work with cannabis everyday, you have to explore a day in the life of a budtender. Keep in mind that this role might look a little different depending on what state you live in, but if you love learning about cannabis and enjoy helping people, it will be a role you can succeed in.

Capturing A Day in the Life of a Budtender

Preparing the Shop for Opening

image of a sign near the road that has a marijuana leaf and reads "open" on the bottom
Editorial credit: Joshua Rainey Photography / Shutterstock.com
While cannabis has been an elusive and taboo topic since it was made illegal in the 1930s, selling cannabis in a retail store is not as glamorous as it sounds. In reality, working as a budtender is no different than working in a clothing or grocery store. At the end of the day, your focus will be on helping people learn about the products and meeting your sales quotas. Of course, being passionate about cannabis really helps!

A day in the life of a budtender begins with opening up the store. Employees usually arrive about 30 minutes early to clean, organize the shelves, make the retail displays look presentable, and set up their cash registers. Most medical and recreational cannabis dispensaries have complex digital inventory systems and employees handle a lot of cash on a day-to-day basis. You will likely be set up with some sort of login information that will track your sales and cash flow throughout the day. Keep in mind that if you are considering work as a budtender, you should be good with money as it is largely a cash-only business.

Helping Customers Learn About Cannabis

image of jars of cannabis in a glass display at a dispensary
Editorial credit: mikeledray / Shutterstock.com
Once the shop is open, the average budtender can expect to help 100-200 people a day in a bustling city, maybe a little less if you’re in a less populated area. A budtender’s main focus is helping people. That is truly what makes being a budtender so rewarding. A good budtender is friendly, welcoming, and good at listening to what the customer needs. Many of the people who walk through the door will be unfamiliar with cannabis or have serious diseases and conditions that they are seeking relief from. A budtender is basically a cannabis educator that can help people find the right product for their needs. This is why some kind of herbal medicine background is so helpful.

Meeting Daily Sales Goals

image of marijuana buds being weighed out on a scale, showing that part of the day in the life of a budtender involves selling and meeting sales goals

Aside from helping customers, budtenders are also held accountable for daily sales goals – just like any other retail business. The ultimate goal of any business is to make a profit and be successful, but what’s great about the cannabis industry is that there is a heavy push to help people, not exploit them. What’s nice about cannabis is that it basically sells itself. If you’re nervous about the sales aspect of working at a cannabis dispensary, have no fear! Remember that by the time a customer gets to your counter, they are already a qualified lead. There are many steps a person has to take to enter a cannabis retailer, including taking cash out of the ATM, and giving security access to their driver’s license. Few people would go through all of that if they didn’t already have something to buy in mind.

Staying Up to Date on Legal Regulations & Rules

image of a gavel with marijuana buds around it, showing that a day in the life of a budtender involves knowing marijuana laws

Most dispensaries bring in thousands of dollars everyday, so before you start working you can expect to get a criminal background check. As part of a budtender’s job, they have to make sure the cash in the register matches up with the product sold and track items within their inventory system. Rules and regulations surrounding cannabis sales vary between states and even countries, but in general one thing is true – all money and product must be accounted for at the end of the day. Cannabis businesses are under close watch from local governing agencies, and have many rules and regulations they must adhere to. For example, if you score budtender jobs in Colorado, you can expect regular visits from the fire marshal and marijuana enforcement agencies.

Closing Up Shop

close up picture of a closed sign in a shop window, showing that the end of a day in the life of a budtender ends with closing the shop

At the end of the day, a budtender is tasked with balancing their cash drawer, closing up shop, and making the store look nice for the next shift in the morning. Most dispensaries have security personnel on staff, and they typically assist the budtenders with locking up and making sure that the property is safe and secure. While working in a cannabis dispensary, you can also expect to be under video surveillance, which is a very welcome thing for any cash business!

Who Qualifies to Be a Budtender?

image of a man holding up a thumbs up to the camera, showing that the successful budtenders have experience in adjacent fields and are good workers

Keep in mind that working as a budtender is rewarding, educational, and can be a lot of fun, but it definitely is not as laid-back as it sounds. In fact, many cannabis professionals do not like being called “budtenders” because it sounds slightly unprofessional. Instead, you might be called a “patient specialist” or “dispensary agent.” And the job definitely does not involve sitting back and smoking weed all day. Each dispensary will have its own rules about employee cannabis consumption – some ban it during work ours while others allow vape pens and edibles only.

If you’re interested in the cannabis industry, people who can seamlessly bridge the gap are those with adjacent skills from other industries. This includes people who worked in the wine business, general retail, marketing, herbal medicine, plant biology, and marijuana cultivation before it was legal. If you’re applying to cannabis positions for the first time, it’s okay to list marijuana growing and handling as part of your past experience, even if it was illegal at the time you were doing it. Most cannabis companies understand that those who are most passionate about cannabis are the ones who fought for its legitimacy.