Born in Vallejo, California, Jamison joined the ranks of stage and vaudeville performers making movies in California. Jamison's husky build and willingness to participate in messy slapstick and rowdy action guaranteed him work in silent comedies. In 1915 he was a member of Charlie Chaplin's stock company at the Essanay studio. From there he moved to the Hal Roach studio, playing hot-tempered comic foils for Harold Lloyd, Snub Pollard, and Stan Laurel. In the 1920s he joined Universal Pictures' short-comedy contingent, and later worked in Mack Sennett comedies.
In his earliest films Bud Jamison looked too young to be totally convincing in heavy makeup as a veteran policeman, detective, or authority figure. As the years progressed, he grew into these roles, and by the time sound movies arrived he was well established as a reliable character comedian.
Jamison had a superb tenor singing voice, and loved to sing when the cameras were not rolling. Talking pictures gave producers a chance to exploit his singing, and for the rest of his career he would occasionally be called upon to vocalize in films. A brief series of color travelogues, filmed in 1930, featured Bud Jamison and comic Jimmie Adams as "The Rolling Stones," two singing vagabonds seeing the country. Jamison would even be hired just for his singing, as in Pot o' Gold where he plays a vagrant who harmonizes in jail. He also sings "You'll Never Know Just What Tears Are" in 1939 Stooges short, A Ducking They Did Go.
For the most part Jamison continued to play cops, robbers, bosses, servants, and various professional men who clash with comedy stars. He appeared opposite Bing Crosby, W. C. Fields, and Andy Clyde in Sennett's talkies. Like other members of the two-reel-comedy community, he found work at various studios: Hal Roach (with Thelma Todd and ZaSu Pitts, and Charley Chase). Educational Pictures (with Buster Keaton), RKO Radio Pictures (with Clark & McCullough, Leon Errol, and Edgar Kennedy), and Columbia Pictures (with Keaton, Clyde, Chase, Harry Langdon, and the Three Stooges, among many others). Jamison is best known for his Columbia Stooge shorts. including their first one, Woman Haters (in which Jamison speaks in verse, as the head of the Woman Haters Club).
Jamison suffered from diabetes during his later years. He became ill in mid-1944, but refused to take insulin due to his devout Christian Scientist beliefs. In addition, he suffered from kidney cancer. Jamison died on 30 September 1944 from diabetes mellitus. He was 49 years old. He is buried in Inglewood Park Cemetery.