Once upon a time, in the olden days when cannabis wasn’t a legit business, it was hard to find a job in weed. Sure, you could search the classifieds and apply to certain ads: “Wanted: Drug Dealer – Must have own transportation and own pager.” In present times, it’s different: the marijuana business is blossoming and so are the employment opportunities. From doctors to scientists, growers to marketers, inventors to business owners, Mary Jane invites people from all types of educational backgrounds and walks of life to take part. Still, the industry is competitive, with everyone wanting a turn. But certain jobs are accessible, such as that of the budtender.

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What is a budtender?

If you’ve ever walked into a dispensary, you’ve encountered a budtender; it’s usually the first person you see. Yet, they’re not there simply to welcome you to the shop – this isn’t a Weedmart version of the Walmart greeter; they’re there to educate too. A good budtender knows information about every strain – the benefits, the drawbacks, the health perks, the type of high, the way it’s made – and uses this knowledge to help customers choose the best selection. Essentially, budtenders are some of the most well informed people in the industry – they’re practically the Google of ganja.

How to become a budtender

A budtender is like a wine expert: you don’t apply for the latter if you can’t tell the difference between Pinot and Port or Chianti and Cab. Rather, you must be well versed in every vintage. The same concept applies to a marijuana expert.shutterstock_370188149-1 So, exactly how do you amass this knowledge? You learn as much as you can and involve yourself in the movement. But you must pay special attention to the following: The trends: Cannabis is an ever-evolving industry. Not only are growers producing new strains and hybrids, but innovators are constantly thinking of new devices, concoctions, and ways of ingestion.

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Waxes and oils, for instance, are hot in the modern market a budtender must know about these trends before they become trendy.

The passion: A career as a budtender isn’t like a typical nine-to-five job where you go through the motions and collect your paycheck. If you don’t have a passion for cannabis, you probably won’t cut it. A lack of zeal leaves you unmotivated to learn continuously, which is a necessity in the marijuana industry. It’ll also influence the way customers respond: if you’re not really all that interested in cannabis, they’ll know. Apathy doesn’t harbor trust. The certification: The certification surrounding budtending is controversial. It’s not a requirement like it is for other careers (such as a CPA) and many of the programs offered either don’t truly prepare you for the cannabis industry or they leave you without any job leads: certified and unemployed (and poorer than you were). This isn’t to say that it’s an awful idea – some programs are legit. Just research any potentials before handing over your MasterCard. While certification is optional, obtaining a badge isn’t (at least not in some states).

In Colorado, for example, you must obtain a valid Key Badge or a MED Support Key in order to get a job in cannabis.

Budtenders typically only need a Support Key, unless they make operational decisions for the company in which they work. Then they need a higher clearance. The cost of the applications for these licenses ranges from 150 to 300 dollars, but obtaining one before applying makes you more appealing to employers. You must meet certain requirements for consideration (i.e., you must be over 21 and a resident of the state). The customer service: You might fancy youshutterstock_470263121-1rself a plant person, but if you’re considering a career as a budtender, you have to be a people person too. You must be able to relate to them, to listen to them, and to convey your wisdom with patience no matter how much knowledge they lack – they don’t know a blunt from Emily Blunt. This job requires you to become an ambassador for the cannabis culture, both the greens and the people seeking them. As a budtender, you’re BFFs with anyone who has a need for weed.

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How to apply

Now that you know what it takes, how do you actually get a job tending to all the buds? Well, there’s a few different routes. Some of the paths to pot include: Craigslist: Yes, Craigslist is sketchy on occasion, but it offers a great amount of legitimacy as well:shutterstock_420343708 applying for a job on this forum is much different than selling your Camaro in the middle of the night, in the middle of the woods. Other places on the internet: Of course, the internet isn’t merely for Craigslist and cat videos – there’s several other places online with relevant job listings. From 420careers.com to thcjobs.com, many sites only cater to the pot industry. There are also staffing agencies that do the same: they help people ditch their cubicle for a cannabis career. The horse’s mouth: Another option is to go into dispensaries directly and ask if they’re hiring. This takes gumption, which many employers appreciate. Even if a specific dispensary isn’t in the market for anyone new, there’s always a chance that they’ll know someone who is.

The weed world is pretty small, and everybody seems to know someone who knows someone.

When all else fails

If obtaining a job as a budtender proves difficult, you don’t need to throw in the towel and go work for your father. You only need to be ready to start elsewhere. Working as a cashier or in plant care is a good step. A willingness to mop the shop floor or entertain customers with your Billy Idol impersonation – “It’s a nice day for a White Widow” – all go a long way. Because weed is like any other industry: sometimes you have to start at the bottom and give your career a chance to grow.