Arborists are tree professionals who specialize in diagnosing, treating, and preventing plant diseases, pests, and other issues that affect trees. They also use their knowledge and experience to plan and execute tree care services for businesses and individuals.
They may work for tree services, landscaping or landscape construction companies, property developers, government agencies, or state and national parks. They may also work as consultants, providing one-time or scheduled tree care services for private clients or business owners.
The duties of an arborist include removing dead, diseased, or threatening branches from trees, pruning them to maintain their health and aesthetic appeal, and making recommendations about tree planting for various locations and conditions. They perform these duties to protect human and public safety, as well as to preserve the natural beauty of trees.
Climbing and Pruning
Arborists use a variety of tools to climb into the tops of trees, including ladders and chainsaws, and cut away low-hanging, dead or obstructive limbs. They also spray trees, fertilize them, and apply chemicals to keep them healthy.
A person with a degree in arboriculture, horticulture, or forestry can earn a salary of about $174,000 a year as an arborist. This includes a starting wage of about $33,000 and benefits that vary by employer.
Most employers require at least a high school diploma or equivalent to become an arborist, and some expect more education. A bachelor’s degree in arboriculture, forestry, or horticulture can prepare you for the job and help you advance your career.
You can become an arborist through vocational training or college-based courses, or through on-the-job training and experience. Many arborists start as climbers and work their way up, often becoming crew leaders, supervisors, or managers over time.
Certification and Qualifications
Arborists who work in the United States must be licensed by their state or local municipality to practice arboriculture. Some state licenses are more rigorous than others, so it’s important to check with the jurisdiction where you want to work to find out if licensing is required.
Certification programs are offered by a variety of organizations, including the International Society of Arboriculture (ISA), which offers a number of certifications for arborists. The highest level is Certified Master Arborist.
The qualifications for these certifications vary by country and area, but most offer a thorough examination that requires extensive knowledge of the field. Some are based on specific disciplines, such as climbing and pruning or lightning protection.
A certified arborist is an excellent choice for the public because they are trained and experienced. They have a solid knowledge base of the latest techniques and practices in arboriculture, and are well-versed in the proper ways to prune and care for individual trees.
They can also recommend the proper soil conditions for a particular type of tree, and how to properly cultivate it to ensure growth and longevity. They can inspect soils for moisture and pH levels, identify any fungi or bacteria that may be present, and determine how much sunlight and nutrients a tree needs to grow.