If you’ve ever wanted to join the cannabis industry, and have searched for entry-level jobs, you’ve probably seen “trimmer” positions available throughout Colorado. Trimming is one of the most commonly available positions in the cannabis industry and is the perfect place for a newcomer to start. Not only can you get hands-on experience with professional cultivators and their equipment, but you’ll also have a steady stream of income. With improved indoor growing technology, cultivators are producing product year-round, meaning there is always demand for trimmers.
Some cultivators have attempted to automate the trimming process, but machines can’t produce the same results as human trimmers, who can work quickly, and make adjustments to their method to account for the differences in bud shape, size, and formation.
To help you confidently land a position at a cannabis company as a trimmer, we’ve created this comprehensive guide. Here, we’re covering everything you need to know about the job from the basic requirements and tools of the trade to tips for nailing an interview.
What is Cannabis Trimming?
Cannabis trimming involves removing the less-potent sugar leaves that surround the bud, and the excess bud, trichomes, and plant material. Once fully trimmed, cannabis buds have had their leaves entirely removed, have as little stem as possible, and have been neatly trimmed to reveal the shape of the bud alone.
Trimming is done for two primary reasons:
- To ensure that the cannabis is as close to its tested potency as possible. Including excess material like sugar leaves can reduce the potency of the final product, and give you inaccurate weights for usable plant material.
- For aesthetics. Rough, untrimmed cannabis doesn’t look as good as trimmed cannabis, and today’s consumers demand quality.
Wet vs. Dry Trimming
Cannabis can be trimmed either before or after the drying and curing process. Wet trimming refers to trimming before the cannabis has been dried when the plant material is still fresh, soft, and pliable. Dry trimming refers to trimming after the cannabis has been dried when the plant material is cured, brittle, and stiff.
Ultimately, the choice to trim wet or dry is up to the cultivator, but there are advantages and disadvantages to both methods.
|✓ Easier trimming||✗ May reduce cannabinoid content (less protection during the drying process)|
|✓ Shorter drying time||✗ Trimming cannot be done in batches; must be completed immediately after harvest|
|✓ Less chance of mold/mildew||✗ Extra messy; fresh cannabis is sticky|
|✓ Produces visibly larger buds||✗ Retains more chlorophyll, which creates a harsher smoke|
|✓ May preserve more terpenes & trichomes|
|✓ More precision during drying process||✗ More difficult to trim once dry|
|✓ High cannabinoid levels||✗ Time consuming|
|✓ Produces smoother smoke||✗ Increased risk of mold/mildew|
|✓ Trimmers can take their time and trim in batches||✗ Requires more space|
What Does a Trimmer Do?
Trimmers are the people specifically hired to carry out the trimming process. Trimmers typically are not required to do any other work for the cultivator, but some trimmers may be interested in turning cannabis into a career and are in a prime position to begin shadowing experienced growers.
If you are a dry trimmer, you may have a regular schedule where you work the same hours every day. If you are a wet trimmer, you may instead be asked to come in for longer shifts sporadically, as plants are being freshly harvested.
In either position, your day will primarily consist of working at a bench, removing sugar leaves, stems, and extra plant material from cannabis buds, either in preparation for packaging, processing, or curing. A task that requires focus, you may be allowed to listen to music or a podcast while trimming to help you stay in the zone.
Trimmer is the most entry-level position in the cannabis world, and many trimmers are hired with absolutely no experience. While you can acquire some of these skills while working as a trimmer, some basic skills/requirements of the job include:
- Fine motor skills
- An eye for shape
- Ability to learn quickly
- Being detail-oriented
The basic duties of all trimming jobs include:
- Trimming (fresh or cured) cannabis buds
- Keeping your station clean and organized
- Maintaining tools
- Communicating with senior staff and fellow employees
If you’ve never been trained to trim cannabis before, you’ll be given training by the cultivator that hires you. Typically, the trimming process goes like this:
- Remove the main stalk and separate branches.
- Cut the larger fan leaves.
- “Buck” the individual buds by cutting them off of the branches at the base of their stems.
- Trim the individual buds; remove stem, sugar leaves, and spiky areas of the bud that do not contain trichomes.
- Separate trimmed bud from untrimmed bud and shake.
In some cases, trimming positions may also be combined with other tasks like weighing, packing, or curing (in the case of wet trimmers). Smaller cultivators are more likely to hire employees for flex positions, whereas larger producers will be more likely to hire people exclusively for trimming.
Tools of the Trade
The tools you use while trimming are essential, both for efficient and high-quality trimming and to save your fingers from being shredded and sticky at the end of the work day. The essential tools used by cannabis trimmers are:
- Disposable or thin gardening gloves.
- Trimming scissors; your employer may have a recommendation, but some popular options include Fiskars Micro-Tip Pruning Shears for trimming buds, and Gonicc 8″ Professional Sharp Pruning Shears for thick stalks.
- Cookie sheets or containers to sort and organize trimmed, untrimmed, and shake.
- Neutral vegetable oil (like olive oil or grapeseed oil) to clean and maintain scissors.
Cannabis trimming positions typically start around $13-15.50 an hour, with some trimmers making upwards of $18-$20 an hour. According to Zip Recruiter, the average annual pay for cannabis trimmers in Colorado is around $25,800.
How To Land a Trimming Job
Think you have what it takes to work as a trimmer in the cannabis industry? Here’s how you can show a potential employer that you’ve got the right stuff.
Above all, make sure you don’t show up knowing nothing. If you’ve made it this far into the blog, chances are good you’ve already started to educate yourself, so you’re well on your way to landing a trimming position! Knowing at least a little bit about cannabis trimming and cultivation will make you a more appealing candidate, and show that you have an interest in the industry.
While some employers may provide you with the tools you need to trim their cannabis, others will expect you to have your own tools. Even if you are just going to an interview, be sure to bring your own gloves and scissors, just in case. Whether or not you are expected to have them, you’ll show that you know what is generally going to be expected of you.
Be Patient & Polite
Remember, everyone does things a little differently, so it’s important to show a willingness to listen and learn. Your patience and understanding during the interview and training process will help to make you an asset, and allow you to more quickly adapt to the operations of your new place of employment.
Need help finding trimmer jobs? Let HempTemps pair you with an experienced and respected cultivator to start your career in cannabis off on the right foot.