Cultivating a Career in Cannabis: The Budtender Landscape 2023

April 18, 2023

Cultivating a Career in Cannabis: The Budtender Landscape 2023

Budtending is a great option for those interested in a career in the cannabis industry. 

Budtenders are the primary ambassadors of cannabis and the most critical sales conduit for the vast majority of retail sales transactions in Canada. Working in the industry can be incredibly fun and rewarding, but there is also a lot that goes into the role. Budtenders are responsible for meeting store sales and quotas, understanding provincial and national rules and regulations, staying up-to-date on new brands and products available, cannabis education, attending industry events, and more!

According to a 2023 LinkedIn report, Jobs on the Rise, Budtenders rank as the third fastest-growing job title in Canada, with the majority of opportunities in the Greater Toronto Area. As of late January, there were more than 3,700 legal recreational cannabis storefronts in Canada (MJBizDaily). From the 3,700 legal storefronts, Ontario leads the country with nearly 2,000 dispensaries, followed by Alberta, which is home to nearly 1,000 cannabis stores. British Columbia and Quebec also showed significant growth opportunities. 

Top performing Budtenders have successfully transitioned into roles including Retail Store Manager, Compliance Officer, Product Specialist, Brand Sales Rep, and Administrative Assistant. With an industry in its infancy, there are many opportunities for those interested in a career in cannabis. 

The Challenge

In July 2022, a report focused on the Canadian cannabis retail landscape found that nearly a quarter of newly hired Budtenders in Canada leave the job within the first 30 days. The findings released by Headset, a cannabis data intelligence firm, revealed that Canada's average Budtender turnover in the past 12 months was 56.4%, with 32.5% of them newly hired within the same period.

These findings reflect how employee retention is a "challenge" for the industry, while underscoring the importance of proper onboarding and training to ensure new employees feel confident and supported. To help employers better retain staff, retailers should prioritize cultural fit, leadership management, benefits and rewards, and training tools in place. 

The Solution 

Despite the shocking turnover rates among Canadian Budtenders, those who continue to gain experience within the cannabis landscape are the ones who are successful. Individuals who typically succeed as a Budtender have excellent communication and interpersonal skills, the ability to provide effective customer service, and have a passion for learning more about the plant. It is a lot! 

With that said, there are several ways to make the experience more exciting and transformative for Budtenders. As the first-point of contact with consumers, they should feel empowered to curate an experience as micro-cannabis sommeliers. To do this, education is vital and having effective and efficient tools in place is extremely beneficial. Schedule product knowledge (PK) sessions with brands, order marketing assets off O2O, join Zoltrain’s Budtender Training App, attend Budtender Surprise and Delight Series (BSDS) industry events! There is so much you can do to keep your Budtenders not only engaged, but feel valued and have fun while also driving the cannabis community forward. Here are some steps you can take to cultivate a career in the cannabis industry:

  1. Educate Yourself: Begin by gaining a comprehensive understanding of the cannabis plant, its properties, and the industry as a whole. Familiarize yourself with the various strains, cultivation techniques, extraction methods, and the legal framework surrounding cannabis in your jurisdiction.
  2. Identify Your Interests: Determine which aspect of the cannabis industry you are most interested in pursuing. Are you passionate about cultivation and growing techniques? Are you more inclined towards product development, marketing, or entrepreneurship? Identifying your interests will help you focus your efforts and set clear goals.
  3. Research the Legal Landscape: Understand the specific laws and regulations governing cannabis in your region. Laws regarding cultivation, processing, distribution, and retail can vary significantly from one jurisdiction to another. Stay up to date with any licensing requirements, permits, and compliance standards to ensure you operate within the legal framework.
  4. Build a Professional Network: Attend industry conferences, seminars, and trade shows to connect with professionals already working in the cannabis field. Join local cannabis associations, organizations, or online communities to expand your network. Building relationships with experienced individuals can provide valuable insights, mentorship, and potential job opportunities.
  5. Gain Relevant Experience: Look for internships, entry-level positions, or volunteer opportunities in the cannabis industry. This can provide hands-on experience and help you develop valuable skills. Consider working at a cannabis dispensary, cultivation facility, or processing lab to gain industry-specific knowledge.
  6. Pursue Education and Training: Enhance your knowledge and marketability by pursuing educational courses or certifications focused on cannabis. Several institutions and online platforms offer courses on cultivation techniques, cannabis laws, extraction methods, and more. Additionally, some universities now offer degree programs in cannabis studies.
  7. Stay Informed: As the cannabis industry evolves rapidly, it's crucial to stay informed about new trends, research, and advancements. Read industry publications, follow influential figures and organizations on social media, and join relevant online forums to stay updated.
  8. Develop Transferable Skills: Cultivating a career in cannabis requires a range of skills beyond just knowledge of the plant. Develop transferable skills such as communication, teamwork, problem-solving, and project management. These skills will be valuable in any professional setting within the cannabis industry.
  9. Consider Entrepreneurship: If you have an entrepreneurial spirit, explore opportunities to start your own cannabis-related business. This could involve opening a dispensary, launching a cannabis product line, or providing specialized services to the industry. Conduct thorough market research, develop a business plan, and seek legal and financial advice before starting your own venture.
  10. Adapt and Evolve: The cannabis industry is constantly evolving, with new products, technologies, and regulations emerging regularly. Stay adaptable and be open to learning new skills and embracing change. Flexibility and a willingness to adapt will help you thrive in this dynamic industry.

Want to learn more about the best tools to drive Budtender engagement? Connect with us to stay up to date on industry events, education tools, contests and more! 

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