Career Advice

How to Become a Bud Trimmer

By WeedWeek
Nov 22, 2021

If you’re wondering how to become a bud trimmer, it’s probably in part because you appreciate great flower. The cannabis you buy at the local dispensary (or even on the corner, probably) is a collection of properly trimmed and cut, flowery buds that are ideally covered in trichomes.

It’s a natural plant product, but the finished version you see didn’t just grow that way. It went through many different stages, and trimming was among the most important.

That work falls to the bud trimmer, also called cultivation technician, manicuring technician, and other things depending on the place. But trimming can also be a very tedious task.

Read on to learn more about cannabis bud trimmer jobs—everything from qualifications and pay to daily tasks and more.

How to Become a Bud Trimmer?

You can become a bud trimmer by doing a few things:

  • Gain a lot of knowledge about the cannabis plant, cannabis culture, and the cannabis industry;
  • Steer clear of illegal activities;
  • Prove your willingness to follow through and watch the details; and
  • Follow this step-by-step guide to becoming a cannabis trimmer.

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Cannabis Trimmer Jobs: An Overview

In the past, jobs as a cannabis trimmer were usually just seasonally based or part-time. However, thanks to the ongoing wave toward legalization, cannabis trimmer jobs have become a dependable way to get into the cannabis industry, and many of these positions are full-time cannabis jobs.

As the legal cannabis industry grows, an influx of indoor and outdoor cannabis grow operations have proliferated. Almost all grow operations need cannabis trimmers and are often working to fill these cannabis trimmer jobs. In fact, it’s now possible to live off professionally trimming cannabis for some people—not bad for an entry-level job.

The bud trimmer position has stretched fall beyond harvest season, and not just because of recreational cannabis states. As appreciation for the plant grows, many experts in cannabis breeding and cultivation feel that the human touch of a bud trimmer simply delivers better results.

The bud trimmer role is basic in many ways, but it demands attention to detail and command of cannabis knowledge for real proficiency. And a cannabis trimmer temp job often leads to more advanced positions in the cannabis industry.

Want to make a lateral move away from growing and become a budtender? Easy after a trimmer job! Rather advance your knowledge of cannabis plants and the cannabis business to become a master grower? Bud trimming is still a great first job.

Many bud trimmer positions do not require experience, but it’s better to go in knowing as much as possible about the job and its relationship with the plant. Our guide describes the requirements to become a bud trimmer, and lots of other details that can get you started in this exciting job.

bud trimmer

Cannabis Trimmer Requirements and Qualifications

Job requirements for trimmers vary by company. Here are some basic requirements and qualifications for getting involved in cannabis cultivation as a bud trimmer:

  • Must be at least 21 years of age
  • Must pass a criminal background check (although this depends on the dispensary and state)
  • Must have an open and flexible schedule
  • Okay with focused tasks, physical work, and long hours
  • High school diploma or GED (preferred but not necessary)
  • Have a valid driver’s license or state ID card
  • Previous trimming experience (preferred but not necessary)
  • Must be able to lift, carry, and balance up to 50 pounds
  • Knowledge of the Cannabis sativa plant, including cannabis strains, anatomy, cannabinoids and more (preferred)
  • Must be organized, detail-oriented, punctual, and reliable
  • Ability to obtain a permit as a cannabis worker (if applicable) and you must have this before you can start the job as a cannabis trimmer
  • Must prove you have reliable transportation (public transit is not always an option)

Additional requirements vary a little more. For example, some states offer badges and many cannabis growers expect bud trimmers to have the local version.

Where are you most likely to find long-term bud trimmer jobs with better benefits and outlook for advancement? In the places you’d probably expect, with more advanced marijuana industries, including Washington, California, Oregon, and Colorado. But don’t rule out up and coming states with markets that are growing fast, like Arizona and Florida.

Career Advancement Opportunities

It takes years or decades of experience working in a cultivation facility and managing a team of employees to advance from an entry-level cannabis trimmer to a master grower. A master grower does know how to trim cannabis, but also has a deep understanding of each piece of the cannabis cultivation process from seed flower and a broader business sense for the marijuana industry.

However, it’s still a great idea to start as a bud trimmer, especially with no experience. From there, the next step can be grower’s assistant or supervisor, eventually leading to a master grower job. A cannabis trimmer job is also a good entry point for the manufacturing and retail sectors of the cannabis industry. Your previous experience will look great if you apply for a lateral move like packager or budtender.

Job Duties: Cannabis Trimming and Harvesting

Most cannabis trimmers must efficiently de-fan and trim cannabis plants, weigh accurately and record wet trim weights, keep the warehouse clean and organized even while they’re trimming, and once the cannabis plants are dry, trim off the stick.

Why trim cannabis, anyway? It’s far more important than you may realize.

Trimming cannabis plants as they grow is essential to a high-quality product. Removing cannabis plant leaves and bucking the bud leaves the parts of the bud with more trichomes more accessible. Removing sugar and fan leaves makes harsh smoke far less likely. Trimming is critical to the curing process, which preserves cannabinoids and terpenes and greatly enhances the finished product for a much richer smoking experience. Finally, trimmed buds often generate a more powerful cannabis aroma.

The bud trimmer manicures the cannabis flower buds, separating them from excess foliage. The cannabis trimmer also prunes the cannabis leaves throughout the cultivation process as necessary to provide more light.

Cannabis trimmers will tell you: trimming jobs are sticky business. They wear disposable gloves and have to fight their gear getting gummed up constantly if the product is good. This is because the resinous trichomes called kief found mainly on the cannabis flower buds readily build up anything from scissors to fingers.

Cannabis trimmers help preserve terpene and cannabinoid concentration in the product by using very sharp shears. Trimmers are also clean and sanitize their work environment and tools.

Bud trimmers may additionally package products for cannabis dispensaries. The packaging process includes weighing the product and properly packaging and labeling it in child-proof containers, all quickly and accurately.

Trimmed medical marijuana buds must meet specific guidelines, including regarding:

  • Cannabinoid concentrations
  • No crows feet, shaving, or visible stems
  • Other specific guidelines

Typically, cannabis trimmers can process 1.5 to 2 pounds of cannabis flower in an 8-hour shift. Many cannabis trimming methods exist, but the most common techniques are dry trimming and wet trimming.

Dry trimming refers to harvesting cannabis and allowing it to dry before trimming it. Wet trimming refers to harvesting cannabis and immediately trimming its fan leaves, and then allowing it to cure.

Cannabis Trimming Gear

Scissors. Very sharp scissors are essential. The most common type to know about as a cannabis trimmer are Fiskars scissors. Fiskars scissors are sharp, thin, and snap open automatically thanks to a spring after each trim.

Gloves. Any cannabis trimmer needs to avoid two things: contaminating the product with their own cells, and getting resin buildup on their hands and tools. Disposable gloves can help you achieve both goals.

Containers. Organize your cannabis as you work, ideally on or in four sheets or containers: trimmed cannabis, untrimmed cannabis, trim, and leaves with little or no trichomes. 

Oil. Oil is critical to keeping your scissors functional. The best natural oil options for both skin and scissors are olive oil and grape seed oil.

How to Trim Cannabis Plants by Hand 

Follow this step-by-step process:

Remove the Stalk and Branches

Cut the main stalk with scissors. Remove the branches. If dry trimming, hang the plant for drying. If wet trimming, go on to remove the leaves.

Remove the Leaves

The cannabis leaf we all picture—these are fan leaves—is a target of the cannabis trimmer because they do not have any trichomes. Trichomes are the sticky, hair-like bits on the flower that contain the THC and produce that “high” or euphoric feeling. Use scissors if you’re dry trimming, and hands are enough for wet trimming.

Bucking

Bucking is removing the bud from the branch of the plant. You will keep the buds in a container and leaves, stems, and branches in another container sometimes.

Trimming

Trim the stems of the cannabis plants cleanly at the bottom. The stem should only show at the bottom. Do not break the bud. Trim the bud to the specified size only to avoid problems like mold. Manicure the bud and snip away branches stemming from the bottom. Remove bits that contain no trichomes, although there may be aesthetic reasons to leave the red pistils which have little to no trichomes in place. Remember to separate the trimmed bud.

Trimming with a Machine

Rising demand for cannabis has led to machine trimming for lower end products from some large-scale growers. A heavy-duty, high-end cannabis trimming machine can process up to 20lbs of cannabis every hour—well over ten times what the best human trimmer can match in terms of speed. However, cannabis trimmer machines are no match for human bud trimmers in terms of quality. Machines can precious trichomes by over-trimming, instead getting seeds and stems into the final product.

Pay Rate and Benefits

Cannabis trimmers make between $12 and $15 per hour on average. Most cannabis trimmers earn $300 per day or more. Sometimes, bud trimmers are paid by weight in pounds. This means more money for more work done, although the work is repetitive, long, laborious, and technical.

Benefits for cannabis trimmers vary by company and from place to place but may include:

  • 401(k)
  • Dental insurance
  • Health insurance
  • Life insurance
  • Paid time off
  • Vision insurance

Benefits of Working as a Cannabis Trimmer

Here are a few of the benefits of a bud trimmer job:

Reliable work. Cannabis trimmers who work indoors can work year-round.

Flexibility. Cannabis trimmers can work freelance with multiple grow operations and can sometimes set their own fees. Also, many cannabis trimmers can set their own hours and terms.

Good pay. Standard pay for skilled, efficient, well-trained bud trimmers is usually between $300 and $500 daily. Cannabis trimmer jobs also allow you to learn to work more efficiently and earn more over time—especially where compensation is calculated by weight. A cannabis trimmer position is entry level like a budtender, but usually the trimmer pays more than the budtender position.

Growth. In both the recreational and medical marijuana industries, cannabis trimmer jobs are essential to cannabis production and part of a growing market.

Possible Liabilities

As with any job in the cannabis industry, working for a black market grower holds more risk than the legal cultivator. However, until cannabis has been removed from Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act, it’s technically possible for even legal dispensary jobs to carry some risk.

How to Get a Cannabis Trimmer Job

Marijuana growers who are looking to hire bud trimmers want candidates with a tolerance for tedium—perhaps one fueled by a passion for the cannabis industry, if not a classic good attitude.

Trimming can be repetitive and monotonous, yet it demands skill and attention to detail. This means it can be hard for high-quality producers to keep even fairly well-paid cannabis trimmer jobs filled, thanks to high turnover rates.

But trimmers should remember that despite the monotony, they’re a critical part of the process. This is a job for people who take pride in what they do and help create.

To get hired as a cannabis trimmer, think about what growing facilities are looking for:

  • Candidates with a passion for cannabis and the industry
  • Organization, a good attitude, punctuality, and an ability to follow directions
  • People who can balance being detail-oriented and energetic, and see a long-term career in the marijuana industry
  • Candidates who understand that trimmers play a key role in quality control

Other advice for job seekers looking for work as cannabis trimmers:

  • Research how local and state laws impact the local cannabis industry and be certain you are eligible to work in it.
  • Read cannabis books, news, blogs, and other educational resources to learn more about the industry.
  • Gain indirect job experience and soft skills first if you need to by working in a cultivation job outside of the industry.
  • Network with business owners at local industry events to see who may be hiring bud trimmers. Continue your networking online with a LinkedIn profile.
  • Look for cannabis trimmer jobs on major job boards such as ZipRecruiter, Indeed, Monster, or even Craigslist. Check cannabis-specific job boards as well.
  • Create a unique cover letter and tailored resume for each job you apply for. Include the specific experience and skills the ad mentions (if you really have it).
  • Follow up after the job interview to show you’re interested, organized, and persistent.

Final Thoughts on How to Become a Bud Trimmer

We hope this guide to cannabis trimmer jobs has been useful. It’s an entry-level position that can open lots of other doors if you give it your best efforts. And you can really learn a lot about the cannabis plant, the industry, and a growing operation as a bud trimmer.