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What Does an Arborist Do? (Full Guide)

what does an arborist do

Are you searching for a job where you can spend most of your time outdoors?

If you have a green thumb, working as an Arborist could be perfect for you. These tree professionals spend a lot of time working with trees and other types of pants. Before you rush out and start working in the garden, you need to gain the necessary skills. You also need to be physically fit and be prepared to work hard in the Great Outdoors.

So, let’s find out, ‘what does an Arborist do?’, and how to secure this interesting job. 

Typical Services

You need to be prepared to offer a wide range of services as part of this job and be experienced and skilled in all of them. Let’s take a look at the main services that most Arborists offer


Pruning trees and after plants is essential to make sure they are healthy and grow properly. You need to know the correct pruning techniques for different types of plants. You will also help create pruning plans for different species for the upcoming year. 

Tree removal

This service should only really be offered when there is no other option. It is important to try and save a tree before simply ripping it out of the ground. However, you also need to be able to remove trees safely if need be.

Planting new trees and shrubs

It is essential to be able to plan the growth and maintenance of different species before planting them. You need to take the soil quality and availability of water in certain locations into account. This helps to take the guesswork out of creating a beautiful garden. 

Plant Healthcare

You need to be well-versed in all types of diseases that can affect the health of trees. Start by diagnosing the disease and searching for a suitable cure. You will also be charged with providing specialist healthcare in different parts of the year. 

Emergency care

Emergency care

When a storm strikes, you may be called on to provide emergency care for trees and plants. This involves looking at the damage and finding ways to minimize it. This can include determining which branches to remove so that they do not cause further damage. 


As an expert, clients will often call you when they need advice or a second opinion. It is important to make sure that clients understand the work you plan to do and sign off on it. You need to be able to explain why certain tasks are necessary as clearly as possible. 

What Does an Arborist Do? – The Work Environment

You are likely to spend the majority of your time outside when you do this job. However, this can provide its own challenges at times. You must be comfortable working when it is very hot, snowing, and even during storms. There are usually tasks to complete at all times of the year. However, this is not necessarily a nine-to-five job. Even if you have regular clients, you may be called out to emergencies at any time. 

Types Of Employers

Although you may work in a freelance capacity, scoring repeat business will help pay the bills. A range of different companies and other employers may offer you a regular contract for ongoing work. Here are some of the different types of employers you could work for.

Schools and Educational institutions

Schools and Educational institutions

One of the main concerns of educational institutions is making sure that students are safe. Arborists are often employed on a full-time basis to maintain the building grounds. Tasks are likely to include dealing with hanging branches, raised roots and stumps, and falling deadwood. 

Builders, landscapers, and property developers

You may be hired by a landscaping company as an independent contractor or full-time employee. While landscapers focus on other areas of the grounds, your role would be mainly focused on the trees. This would include making sure all trees are healthy and as aesthetically pleasing as possible. 

Private clients

In addition to removing diseased and damaged trees, you may be called to provide advice on tree healthcare. Other tasks can include trimming hedges and making sure plants are located in the best possible areas. 

Housing and apartment complex owners

One of the main selling points of apartment complexes is shared outdoor spaces. It is essential to make sure the trees and other plants in these areas are properly maintained. This includes ensuring that they do not pose a risk to residents. 

Local councils and governments

You may be able to score a full-time gig with a local council or government. This is likely to involve a considerable amount of travel time as you visit various locations. You may be employed to offer advice on local vegetation protection orders and tree report services. Associated tasks can include pH testing, moisture testing, soil analysis, hazard assessment, and tree value appraisal. 


You need to obtain a license to work as an Arborist in the United States. To get one, you will usually need an accredited certification. You will then present this certification along with your public liability insurance to obtain a license. This will allow you to perform services such as tree removal, tree trimming, and consultation. 

There are a few official bodies that offer specialist training and certification. It is important to look closely at what the courses offer and choose one that matches your skills and interests. Let’s take a closer look at two of the most popular options. 

Certified Tree Care Safety Professional 

This certification program is provided by the Tree Care Industry Association. This program is accredited and will allow you to secure work as a tree care safety professional. This will demonstrate to companies that you understand and can adhere to industry standards. 

ISA Certified Arborist 

ISA Certified Arborist 

This certification is offered by the International Society of Arboriculture. It shows that you are trained in tree safety, electrical hazards, and aerial rescue. After completing the set coursework, you will need to pass an exam to gain certification. 

Professional Associations

Joining a professional organization is a good way to make valuable connections. You will usually gain access to a job board, where you can find information on short-term and long-term contracts. Membership also gives you access to conferences and other types of networking events. 

International Society of Arboriculture

This was established to support the practice and advancement of agriculture through education, research, and technology. The society offers a wide range of training projects and shares knowledge of the latest developments. Joining also gives you access to volunteer opportunities where you can gain knowledge and experience. 

Tree Care Industry Association

If you are just starting, this association provides the tools you need to build your business. Numerous workshops, expos, and other types of meetings are held throughout the year. The Tree Care Industry Association also connects potential clients with qualified tree care experts. 

Tools Of The Trade

Before you start work, you need to make sure you know how to operate all the necessary tools safely. If you work as an independent contractor, you may need to purchase and maintain this equipment yourself. Here are the main types that you are likely to work with regularly.  

Arborist rigging equipment

Arborist rigging equipment

This type of equipment is used for climbing trees, moving heavy equipment, and safely transporting limbs to the ground. Rigging equipment includes pulleys, ropes, blocks, and cable pullers. You need to make sure you choose high-quality rigging equipment and maintain it properly. 

Tree trimming equipment

This equipment is most commonly used for pruning trees to remove unwanted parts without damaging the tree. This includes tools like saw blades, pruners, fiberglass poles, chainsaws, and handsaws. This equipment can be very dangerous in the wrong hands, and you need to know how to use it safely. 

Climbing equipment

It’s no secret that you need to have a head for heights to do this job. You will use equipment like climbing spurs, carabiners, and climbing belts to safely scale trees. If this equipment fails, it could result in serious injury or even death. Therefore, you need to know how to properly choose, check, and maintain this equipment.

Fall protection 

When pruning and felling trees, you need to be able to control where the pieces fall. Otherwise, heavy limbs can cause serious damage to the property of your clients. Essential fall protection equipment includes harnesses, anchors, lanyards, and anchors.

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What Does an Arborist Do? – Final Thoughts

You need to be willing to work hard if you want to become an Arborist. Be physically fit and willing to work in all types of weather conditions. You also need to have a head for heights and be able to operate different types of tools safely.

The average salary for this job is around $76,000. However, gaining specialist certification can boost your earning potential considerably. If you work hard and gain a solid reputation, you could easily earn at least $100,000 per year.

Good luck in your new career as an Arborist!

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