Career Development

What Does an Arborist Do?

Find out what an arborist does, how to get this job, and what it takes to succeed as an arborist.

Arborists are responsible for maintaining the health of trees and other plants. They commonly work in urban areas where they may be called upon to remove hazardous branches or treat pests that threaten public safety. Arborists also help plan new growth, pruning branches and limbs to ensure healthy growth and development.

Arborists must have a thorough understanding of plant biology and ecology. They need to know how different species of trees grow and interact with one another. This knowledge is essential when it comes to deciding which trees should be removed from an area and which ones should remain.

Arborist Job Duties

Arborists have a wide range of responsibilities, which can include:

  • Installing trees in new locations, pruning them as needed, and removing them when they are damaged or diseased
  • Inspecting trees for signs of disease or infestation such as termites or beetles
  • Recommending tree removal if the tree is diseased, damaged, dying, or poses a hazard to people or property
  • Consulting with clients about the best types of trees to use in specific locations based on the environment and usage (e.g. commercial or residential)
  • Conducting specialized work such as tree climbing, pruning, or cabling
  • Consulting with city planning departments regarding appropriate tree species for various environments
  • Diagnosing plant problems and creating treatment plans based on knowledge of plant diseases and pests
  • Providing consultation on the installation, maintenance, and removal of trees for private individuals and businesses
  • Maintaining records of inspections and work performed, including tree measurements and locations of stumps after removal

Arborist Salary & Outlook

Arborist salaries vary depending on their level of education and experience, the company size and geographic location. They may also earn additional compensation in the form of overtime.

  • Median Annual Salary: $58,000 ($27.88/hour)
  • Top 10% Annual Salary: $97,000 ($46.63/hour)

The employment of arborists is expected to grow faster than average over the next decade.

Arborists will be needed to care for trees and other plants in parks, on roadsides, and along utility lines. As urban areas continue to sprawl, arborists will be needed to maintain trees along streets and sidewalks. In addition, as cities rebuild aging infrastructure, arborists will be needed to ensure that new construction does not damage existing trees.

Related: In-Depth Arborist Salary Guide

Arborist Job Requirements

Arborists typically need to have the following qualifications:

Education: Arborists typically need a bachelor’s degree in forestry, natural resources or a related field. Some aspiring arborists choose to earn a master’s degree in forestry or a related field to increase their job opportunities and earning potential.

Many arborists also choose to earn a doctorate in forestry or a related field to increase their earning potential and qualify for senior-level positions.

Training & Experience: Most arborists receive on-the-job training from their employers. This training can last from a few months to a year, depending on the complexity of the job and the company’s requirements. During this training period, an arborist will learn about the company’s safety procedures, equipment and workflows. They will also learn about the specific needs of the property, such as the types of trees and the species of plants.

Certifications & Licenses: Some states require arborists to obtain a license or certification before they can work in the field. These licenses and certifications show employers that an arborist has completed a certain level of education and training.

Arborist Skills

Arborists need the following skills in order to be successful:

Technical skills: Technical skills are the knowledge and expertise you have in your field. They include your ability to read and understand technical documents, your ability to use complex tools and machinery and your ability to solve complex problems. Arborists use technical skills to identify tree health issues, develop treatment plans and create safe climbing and pruning methods.

Communication skills: Communication skills are essential for arborists, as they must be able to convey information to others in a clear and concise manner. This includes written communication, such as when writing reports, and verbal communication, such as when speaking with clients or other arborists. Communication skills can help you convey complex information in an easy-to-understand way.

Problem-solving skills: Arborists use problem-solving skills to identify issues and develop solutions. They use these skills to assess trees, identify potential hazards and find ways to improve the health of a tree. They also use problem-solving skills to identify the cause of tree damage and find ways to prevent it in the future.

Physical fitness: Physical fitness is an important skill for arborists, as it allows them to perform their job duties safely and efficiently. Physical fitness can include strength, endurance and flexibility. Arborists should be able to climb trees, lift heavy equipment and perform other physically demanding tasks.

Safety knowledge: Safety is an important skill for arborists to have because they work at heights and with sharp tools and machinery. They need to know how to properly use their equipment and how to identify and avoid hazards. Arborists should also know how to properly use safety equipment like harnesses and ropes.

Arborist Work Environment

Arborists work outdoors in all types of weather conditions, so they must be physically fit and able to tolerate heat, cold, rain, and snow. They use a variety of tools, including chain saws, pruning shears, and power pole pruners, to trim and remove trees. They also use trucks and other vehicles to transport trees and tree parts. Arborists typically work 40 hours per week, but they may work longer hours during the peak tree-trimming season, which generally runs from April to November. Some arborists may be on call 24 hours a day to respond to emergencies, such as storms that damage trees.

Arborist Trends

Here are three trends influencing how arborists work. Arborists will need to stay up-to-date on these developments to keep their skills relevant and maintain a competitive advantage in the workplace.

Urban Forestry

As cities grow, so does the need for urban forestry services. This means that arborists will be in high demand as they are responsible for maintaining trees and shrubs in city parks and along streets.

Arborists can capitalize on this trend by becoming certified in urban forestry services. This will allow them to work with city officials to develop plans for tree and shrub maintenance that meets the needs of the community. In addition, they can also offer consulting services to homeowners who want to improve the aesthetics of their yards.

The Importance of Urban Forestry

Urban forestry is an important trend in the landscape industry because it focuses on the care and maintenance of trees and shrubs in urban areas. As more and more people move into cities, there is a growing need for professionals who can maintain the trees and shrubs in public spaces.

This trend is especially important for arborists, who can use it as an opportunity to expand their businesses and become experts in urban forestry. They can do this by developing relationships with city officials and creating programs that help keep trees and shrubs healthy and safe.

Green Infrastructure Becomes More Important

As cities become more environmentally conscious, the importance of green infrastructure will continue to grow. Green infrastructure refers to the use of plants and natural materials to manage stormwater runoff, reduce heat island effects, and provide other environmental benefits.

Arborists can capitalize on this trend by becoming certified in green infrastructure installation. This will allow them to install rain gardens, bioswales, and other types of green infrastructure in cities across the country.

How to Become an Arborist

An arborist career can be both rewarding and challenging. It’s important to consider your personal goals and interests when planning your career path. Do you want to work outdoors? Are you interested in science or math? Do you enjoy working with your hands?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, an arborist career may be a good fit for you. There are many different ways to become an arborist. You can start by attending an accredited school or training program. You can also learn on the job by working under the supervision of an experienced arborist.

Related: How to Write an Arborist Resume

Advancement Prospects

Arborists generally advance in their careers by taking on more responsibility and/or obtaining additional education and training. As they gain experience, arborists may be promoted to positions such as crew leader, supervisor, or manager. Those who wish to move into teaching or research may obtain a bachelor’s or master’s degree in horticulture, forestry, or a related field.

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