Breaking Into The Cannabis Industry Part 2 - Location And Entry Level Budtending
By Roger Malespin
December 3rd 2018 Photo/Istock/fizkes
Do a search for cannabis industry jobs on any job website and you’ll see a plethora of positions available. Go to any cannabis convention and you’ll hear companies talking about their need to fill positions in areas like retail, marketing, and graphic design. Because the industry is new and prospering, employers cast a wide net hoping to fill these entry level positions. This means there is real opportunity for people from a vast array of previous careers who can utilize their skill set in the industry. Today, we’ll look at the most prolific entry level position and where the best places to apply are.
The first order of business is location. 29 states, plus the nation's capital, have legalized medical marijuana use, while nine plus D.C. permit recreational use. Most of the opening are on the west coast. According to Ziprecruiter, an online marketplace for job advertisements, Denver is at the top of the ten most cannabis job-friendly cities, with Seattle, Portland, L.A., and San Francisco rounding out the top 5. Chicago is the only midwestern location, with Boston and Miami as the two lone east coast cities.
Location will likely be the biggest obstacle for most, but the good news is many entry level jobs don’t require degrees or previous industry experience. The most accessible of these is a budtender.
Budtenders are the front line of any retail cannabis business. Do you have people skills? If so, then you are already halfway to being qualified. Because they will be the only person that the vast majority of retails customers speak with, budtenders must excel at customer service. Additionally, budtenders must also be knowledgeable about the products and industry. Remember that most of the customers will have little to no knowledge about cannabis, with many taking it for the first time with newly legal prescriptions.
There are decades of anti marijuana propaganda to undo, and the budtender is crucial in this role. These new consumers have a lot of uncertainty about cannabis in general, and the friendly and knowledgeable budtender is the most important part of establishing a trust and an ongoing relationship.
It cannot be understated that this position, though accessible, requires investment in time and knowledge. Simply being a smoker will not cut it by a long shot. It is highly recommended that interested persons pick up books by reputable authors on the subject. Recommendations include Dispensary Life: A Survival Guide to Budtending in Cannabis-Legal States by Bethany Weisbacher, Marijuana Grower`s Handbook: Your Complete Guide for Medical and Personal Mariju by Ed Rosenthal, and just about any book by Jorge Cervantes, who is one of the most prolific names in marijuana cultivation. As a budtender you will not be cultivating, but knowledge of the product from seed to sale is needed. The customers will undoubtedly ask about the growing process and other minutia, and the budtender must be ready with answers.
There are also cannabis training courses available, but you should be aware that none of these are ‘officially’ state recognized. This means that they could cover the entire spectrum of being very beneficial or completely useless to those who sign up. If one wishes to pursue this, they should research the history of the program and the success rate of those who have completed it before committing their time and money.
These are the beginning steps to pursuing a budtending job. Keep in mind that these businesses are legitimate and are seeking professionals, not slackers. They want to hire those who will add legitimacy to the industry, so training certificates may not be required but the knowledge certainly is. It is absolutely viable that one researches and learns on their own, but it must be taken seriously to make an impression on any interview.
Despite the relatively large pool of competition, you can get a leg up on the rest by equipping yourself with this knowledge. Remember, if you’ve had success with customer service in any area, you already have some of what’s needed. Those who can communicate effectively and convey product efficiency can easily transfer those skills to this job. If you take the time to research and make yourself knowledgeable about the cannabis industry, you will have the confidence to shine in an interview and significantly increase your chances of being hired.
So for those looking to be a budtender, you can get started immediately. Read the books, learn from those with experience, and if you can, talk with people who are in the business as much as possible. The more you know, the better your chances when you make your move.