Tree surgeons, also known as arborists, are concerned with the health and safety of trees, vines, shrubs, and other woody plants. They play an essential role in making our surroundings green, fresh, and livable. If you enjoy working outdoors, and you love physical work, perhaps this is a career you could enjoy.
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1. What Do Tree Surgeons Do?
Their duties include:
- Conducting assessments to identify sick trees, such the ones that are decomposing or infested by insects – this involves observing the condition of barks, color of leaves, etc.
- Using suitable treatment methods, such as applying insecticides, to treat sick trees or prevent the disease from spreading to healthy trees
- Bracing trees for additional support
- Punning overgrown trees
- Felling old trees, as well as those that are in danger of falling on people or structures
- Trimming hedges
- Planting new trees
- Recommending trees that can grow in clients’ yards
2. Work Environment
Tree surgeons work from 9am to 5pm, Monday through Friday. They perform their work outdoors, where they are exposed to all types of weather.
The job, which requires regular travel, is physically demanding. On a typical work day, tree surgeons use heavy equipment such as power saws and carry logs from the job site. The job is also potentially dangerous, as these surgeons often work at heights. To prevent injuries, they must wear protective clothing such as hard hats and earmuffs.
According to PayScale, arborists earn between $27,744 and $60,299 annually.
4. Entry Requirements
The best way to qualify as a tree surgeon is to pursue an associate degree in arboriculture and community forest management, such as the one offered at the University of Massachusetts Amherst.
The degree will equip you with the knowledge and technical skills you need to care for trees and shrubs in residential and community settings. You will learn about the:
- Principles of arboriculture
- Arboricultural field techniques
- Insects of plants
- Plant healthcare diagnostics
Although not a popular entry route, you can also get started through apprenticeship programs offered by large tree care services companies. You will learn the art of the tree surgery from seasoned surgeons for at least two years.
5. Important Qualities
To be an effective tree surgeon you need:
- An aptitude for practical work
- A head for heights
- Strong technical skills
- Physical interest
- An interest in conserving trees
- Strong analytical and problem-solving skills
- Excellent outdoor skills
- Good teamwork skills to collaborate with horticulturists, landscape architects, and other professionals
- Good time management skills
- An understanding of tree owners’ rights and responsibilities
- Good communication skills
6. Career Development
After getting hired, undertake the following steps to advance in your career:
- Obtain a professional certification from the International Society of Arboriculture (ISA) – the society offers six certifications, and the one you pursue depends on your level of experience and academic qualifications.
- Become a member of ISA to access educational resources such as podcasts and research publications
- Pursue a bachelor’s degree in ecology, forestry, plant science or another closely related field
7. Job Opportunities
The employers of tree surgeons are:
- Tree care service firms
- Landscape management companies
- Tree nurseries
- National and state parks
- Local authorities
- State departments of urban and community forestry
With vast experience and advanced credentials, you can advance to become a supervisor of other surgeons. With strong business skills, you can venture into self-employment and establish your own tree care service company.
Finally, just like human beings, trees get ill, and they need to be treated. By becoming a tree surgeon, you will have the opportunity to keep trees healthy and, as a result, lead to the creation of pleasant outdoor environments.
Are you a tree surgeon or are you planning to become one? Let us know in the comments section below!