Headset Report Analyzes Turnover Rates for Budtenders in the U.S. and Canada

In the latest Headset report, budtender employees data exhibits the trends of new hires versus employees who work at a single location for more than 12 months.
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The cannabis data collection company Headset released its latest report on July 13, which covers budtender/employee turnover rates in cannabis dispensaries.

Headset calls cannabis budtenders the “heart and soul of the industry,” because they are essentially ambassadors for the plant and the industry. “Because of their extreme importance, budtender hiring, onboarding, and management is one of the most crucial tasks in any cannabis retail operation,” Headset writes in its introduction. “One of the great challenges of managing budtenders, or staff in any business, is employee turnover. Turnover is often unavoidable and always costly, so it’s essential to optimize the employee hiring and managing process wherever possible. In this report, we explore budtender turnover in the US and Canada to get an understanding of what is and isn’t normal when it comes to budtender turnover.”

The report analyzes information collected between June 2021 through May 2022, with a search in Arizona, California, Colorado, Illinois, Massachusetts, Michigan, Nevada, Oregon and Washington state, as well as the Canadian provinces of Alberta, Ontario, British Columbia, and Saskatchewan.

For both the U.S. and Canada, the split between senior employees and new employees is nearly the same. In the U.S., 40.6% are employees that were hired more than 12 months ago, with 59.4% being considered as new hires. In Canada, the split between 12 month employees and new hires is 40.1% and 59.9% respectively.

The percentages begin to differ when reviewing the percentages of employees who stay at cannabis dispensaries versus those who leave before the 12-month mark. In the U.S., 45.4% continued working after one year, but 54.6% left, and in Canada, 43.6% stay on while 56.4% quit.

Further data shows that ~16% of employees in both the U.S. and Canada continued to work at their job, but only ~24% chose to leave. The percentage in relation to new hires choosing to stay or leave is much higher—29.3% and 30.1% in the U.S. 27.3% and 32.5% in Canada.


There are many reasons that could influence budtenders to leave their jobs, and in most cases the data is similar in the markets used for analysis. “Retailers in Illinois, for example, seem to be better than average at retaining more experienced staff members for more than one year with 55% of employees hired more than one year ago,” the report states. “Conversely, retailers in Colorado and Oregon tend to have far lower retention, both with more than a third of budtenders starting and ending their employment in the past 12 months. In Canada, Alberta is a bit of an enigma with retailers tending to have slightly better retention among new employees but having lost a larger amount of more tenured employees than in other Canadian provinces.”

The report also shares that 23% of new hires in the U.S. and 24% in Canada leave before the first 30 days of their employment, which is likely attributed to an “efficient and effect new hire onboarding process.”

However, those who perform well in sales are more likely to continue working. “The better performing the budtender is, the more likely they are to continue working,” Headset concludes. “This could be simply because it feels good to do well at a job and so it’s natural to want to continue. However, budtending is still a tip-driven position in many markets and being a top performer could also mean an employee might be bringing home more total income than his or her coworkers.”

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  2. The article doesn’t mention pay? I’m curious what a “budtender “ makes as a salary. It’s very important to love what you do for a living but if it’s not a liveable wage it’s never in the consideration. The wage is first. I love what I do but I make 100k a year to do it. Nowadays it’s not as close to a liveable wage as it once was but I’ll guarantee it’s more than a budtender makes. But the problem with that is the profit of the cannabis world far exceeds the profit in my world. See what I’m saying/asking? It is only because my superiors understand the value of experience and good moral compass and pay me to use it. I could do my job in any other field, any other company in the same field and make on average 60k a year. Companies have got to stop it with the record profits and start looking out for their “most valuable assets” and maybe they would stick around. I would give up my career RIGHT NOW if I thought for a second I could give my family the life they have now selling cannabis for a market that is showing billions in revenue but I know that to literally be pipe dream. I can’t for the life of me understand why any other reason is being explored but this. If inflation and the cost of living is why is on 80% of the American peoples mind right now, I can’t be alone in thinking the pay is the number one reason. These people working for this industry should be living like kings and queens. They literally break federal laws everyday and risk their freedom to provide “medicine”. What are we doing here? Maybe I’m way off but I’m 45 and I used to imbibe cannabis every hour of my life, I’ve been around it my entire life and compared to where it was in the 70s/80s even the 90s you have to be a rocket scientist to even know 1/2 of what you need to know to be a good “budtender” I’m sure I’m speaking to the choir but Jeesh. Isn’t this problem across the board? In every industry?

    1. Hi, I’m a budtender in central California! If you’re wondering, I make roughly $35k a year after taxes, and this is on the higher side of standard budtender wages in my area at least, though definitely not the highest overall. Obviously nowhere near a living wage.

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