What does a Arborist do?

Median Pay $24.80 to $32.24 an hour (pulled Legislative Branch job posting on USAjobs.gov)
Growth Rate - Not enough data%
Citation Retrieved from BLS.gov

An arborist (or tree surgeon as they can sometimes be called) is a practitioner of arboriculture. These are career professionals that can cultivate, manage, care for, and rehabilitate trees and shrubs. There are also foresters who are professionals who specialize in managing an entire forest and may be responsible in harvesting wood whereas An arborist specializes in individual trees.

How to Become an Arborist

become an arborist

Though a formal education is not required, some employers like to see a blend of education in arboriculture and experience. You can gain a bachelor’s degree in forestry or other related field. Arborists can also earn a specialized International Society of Arboriculture (ISA) certification to demonstrate their knowledge in a particular aspect of arboriculture. ISA actually has six certifications available:

  1. ISA Certified Arborist Municipal Specialist
  2. ISA Certified Arborist Utility Specialist
  3. ISA Certified Tree Worker Climber Specialist
  4. ISA Certified Tree Worker Aerial Lift Specialist
  5. ISA Board Certified Master Arborist

You can learn more about each of these certifications, visit the Six ISA Certifications webpage (link opens in a new tab).

Job Description of an Arborist

An arborist has many duties. Depending on where they are employed, they may also be responsible to climb trees (often with ropes) and some trees can grow to be very large. Safety when climbing a tree is a must so those that climb trees are also highly skilled in this area. Arborists are also sometimes called tree surgeons as not only must they remove dead limbs and prune a tree when necessary, they also monitor the health of the trees in their care and recommend treatment.

These professionals must also be aware of environmental changes such the introduction of an invasive species or other hazardous environmental element. In addition to ensuring the health of a tree, they may plant trees to promote additional growth as well. Those in this career field may spend a lot of time outdoors and in the elements.

Arborist Job Posting

Let’s look at a job description posted by the Architect of the Capitol. This position requires an applicate to have a valid driver’s license and though not required, a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) is preferred. You can learn how about CDL license types (link opens in a new tab) and how to gain your CDL license from the Department of Motor Vehicles (link opens in a new tab) website. They also prefer a candidate that has and International Society of Arboriculture (ISA) certification or an accredited tree expert license.

This job announcement is looking for a person to perform the following responsibilities:

  • Prunes or assists in removal of diseased, dead, fallen or hazard trees.
  • Prunes trees to promote optimum tree health and wound compartmentalization. In accordance with ISA standards.
  • Uses chain saw hand prunes and hand saw.
  • Works from a bucket truck, ladder and climbs trees using ropes, knots, rigging and hitches to perform arboricultural tasks.
  • Operates equipment such as chain saws, motorized winches, block and tackle, brush chipper, stump grinder machines.
  • Prunes trees and ornamental shrubs to obtain desired effect.
  • Performs a variety of worker level tasks related to the care of trees and ornamental shrubs in assistance to higher grade Arborist.
  • Plants and transplants trees according to ISA standards.
  • Applies standard fertilizing practices and adjusts acid or alkaline conditions of the soil in line with plant requirements.
  • Uses granular surface feeding and root feeding techniques.
  • Takes steps to treat diseases and mineral deficiencies as instructed and applies proper chemical compounds.
  • As workload requires, operates various grounds maintenance equipment such as blowers, brush chipper, stump grinder, plow trucks, skid loader and air spade, etc.
  • Cleans up debris, including fallen limbs, branches and assists with trunk sections.
  • Performs other related duties as assigned.

This position was posted to run 12/19/2018 until 01/18/2019 with a salary range of $24.80 to $32.24 per hour on USAjobs.gov (link opens in a new tab). USAjobs.gov is an official website of the United States government and part of the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.

Free Teacher and Student Resources

The International Society of Arboriculture (ISA) offers a free series of arboriculture podcasts (link opens in a new tab). Each podcast series focuses on a topic such as arborist news, best practices, the science of arboriculture and more.

Like to learn more about caring for trees? Visit ISA’s Tree Care webpage (link opens in a new tab).