Careers In Pot: Breaking Into Budtending

by Kevin

At some point, the Coronavirus quarantine will end and we’ll all eagerly rush to hammer our lives back into something resembling normalcy. For many of us, that’ll mean either looking for a new job or (if we’re lucky) settling back into our careers. 

Cannabis – like other quarantine staples like streaming video and jigsaw puzzles – is one of the industries whose growth has been virus-proof, and will continue to be so in the years to come. As more states legalize and more new users come on board, weed’s popularity will continue to see upward growth. Meanwhile, those new users will help dispel ages-old unfair myths about pot use, which in turn will only drive that growth further.

So it’s definitely a good time to be getting into the pot business from a career perspective. Legal weed sales are projected to grow to over $20 billion by 2022, with another 340,000 new full-time workers added to keep up with those sales. For perspective, bear in mind these estimates are from 2018 and haven’t taken into account the boost in sales and popularity that come with the Coronavirus quarantine; California, for instance, has listed cannabis dispensaries as essential businesses. And California is the biggest marketplace for legal weed in America (and possibly the world). 

If you’re looking to break into the industry, don’t worry too much if you’re not a major pothead. You’ll need to know the basics of cannabis use – the differences between edibles, flower and vapes, for instance, or how to prepare bud for smoking – but it’s easy enough to learn a lot of those kinds of entry-level facts and techniques through a couple of good Google searches. In the beginning stages at least, it’s doubtful anyone would demand you know every strain on the market or be a lifetime subscriber to High Times

In most ways, breaking into weed is a lot like breaking into any other industry: Find an entry level job and learn the ropes. And remember: This is a job like any other job. Employers are, first and foremost, looking for workers who are diligent, responsible, and at least relatively pleasurable to spend eight hours in a room with. People hiring for cannabis jobs know weed culture intimately and might even be a little exhausted with it – so avoid the hard-sell approach, leave the words “dank nugs” off your resume and leave the 420 glasses at home. The cannabis industry is highly regulated, making tasks like compliance and quality control paramount – meaning that highly attentive people with an eye for detail will be among the most attractive applicants for any position. 

But don’t worry – the pot industry is far from stuffy. Indeed, it’s filled with some of the most energetic and creative professionals around. Weed jobs can be stressful, particularly from a regulatory perspective, but there wouldn’t even be an industry if it weren’t for the importance of relaxation and fun in our lives. So weed workers are a cool bunch to spend a career’s worth of workdays around. 

There are two fairly easy-to-open doorways into the professional world of cannabis: Budtending and trimming. 

Budtending, as you might know if you’re a frequent visitor, is the art of working in tandem with dispensary customers to help them find the cannabis product that’s best for them. If a customer says they’re looking for something to chill them out without putting them to sleep or gluing them to the couch, you’ll need to know what to recommend. If someone wants an edible with the same kick as the strain they’ve been smoking for years, it’s your job to give them options. 

The other widespread entry-level cannabis job, trimming, is even easier – particularly if you’re not the extroverted type. Trimming is a job that takes place at cultivation sites and essentially involves preparing cannabis flower for use – whether in pre-rolls or as nugs. This is a very back-of-house gig, where you wouldn’t be interacting with anyone other than your co-workers and supervisor. It’s not as glamorous, but it’s probably an easier job to have on days you wake up in a bad mood. 

Trimmers and budtenders usually start at minimum wage, so take care to note what your state requires of businesses as well as your cost of living; some states have higher minimum wages than others. Those the are jobs that exist within the cannabis industry, but as that industry grows, so do the ancillary businesses that support (and are in turn supported by (weed businesses). 

There are plenty of other jobs in the weed business that are more advanced, or require specialized training. But these two jobs are the best way for anyone to break in regardless of what their resume looks like. As a trimmer or a budtender, too, you’ll be able to learn the business while keeping an eye open for new opportunities at the same time.

In our next post, we’ll get into those more specialized jobs. For now, though, if you’re reading this article because it popped up in your Google search for “how to find cannabis jobs,” you might think about checking out these resources:

Vangst. The classiest-looking of the bunch, Vangst is more than a resource for job-seekers – it’s a portal to connect marijuana professionals with people needing their expertise. 

Marijuana Jobs & Cannabis Careers. This is the most straightforward resource for those looking for careers in cannabis, MJCC offers resume-hosting services and job postings across the United States.

Hemp Staff. This site’s best feature is its Training Center, which offers links to training courses in a wide variety of cannabis vocations across the United States – some in-person, some webinars. 

Standard job sites. Sites like Indeed and Glassdoor offer plenty of cannabis-related jobs at all levels of employment and across disciplines.

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