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Tree Surgeon: A Definitive Guide to Becoming a Tree Surgeon

You love nature and looking for a career outside the office room, where you can spend time around the woods and go for adventures.

Becoming a tree surgeon is a thrilling career choice, one who has a genuine appreciation for nature, as well as a love to challenge themselves.

The work of a tree surgeon can take you back to a happy place when you were a kid climbing tree-to-tree. This is the right job for people who are athletic and enjoy physically demanding activities.

There is a saying, “if you like what you do, you will never work a day in your life”. 

However, this role is much more complicated than meets the eye. The job description is vast, and you will need many skills to become a tree surgeon. So, you need to do your research first.

Follow our guideline! This guideline is specially designed to help you take the first step towards a career in the exciting industry.

Table of Contents

Who is a Tree Surgeon?

A tree surgeon is a tree maintenance specialist engineer. He is responsible for cutting down trees, planting, replanting, splitting logs, cutting hedges, pruning branches and shrubs.

This work is one of the most dangerous jobs in the world. There is a high probability of accident occurrence in this work line. Because when you are working as a tree surgeon, you will need to work from some serious heights. While working up there, they also have to use heavy and high-powered equipment.

However, people who work as a tree surgeon find the role very exciting and continue it as a long-term career.

What are the responsibilities and duties of a tree surgeon?

There are many specific skills that a tree surgeon requires to accomplish their daily tasks and responsibilities. The responsibility and duties of a tree surgeon do not change to the location. It is always the same, whether they are working in a city park or the countryside woodland.

Who is a Tree Surgeon

This job description is not limited to climb, chop, and prune trees using heavy-duty machinery equipment. They need to ensure that trees are healthy, well cared for, and able to thrive in their surroundings.

A tree surgeon often has to plant trees and vegetation when it is necessary or upon order. They are also responsible for carrying out practical assessments to diagnose hazards, which ultimately helps with trees’ conservation and protection.

Other essential daily tasks and duties for a Tree Surgeon could include:

  • Produce tree survey reports for domestic and commercial clients.
  • Dealing with pest control.
  • Listen to the customer requirements for site work.
  • Prepare on-site or telephone quotations with the customers.
  • Visiting worksites before starting work to see the site condition.
  • Designing and planning landscape arrangements.
  • Arrive at the site on the agreed day and start working at the pre-agreed time.
  • Complete the necessary work, such as cutting, pruning, planting, replanting, log removal, and hedge cutting.
  • Cleaning the worksite on completion and removing the waste product from the customer’s property.
  • Abiding by health and safety regulations.
  • Marketing for the company and giving an invoice to the customer for future work.
  • Have to make sure all insurance documents are valid and up to date.

What skills will I need to become a tree surgeon?

The role is more dangerous than any other office job. To perform day to day duties and tasks, you will need a range of skills. This skill could include, you need to:

  • Have good communication skills.
  • Have the ability to work well with others.
  • Have good physical skills, such as movement and coordination.
  • Be thorough and pay attention to details when dealing with the customer.
  • Be proficient with power tools and equipment.
  • Have keen knowledge of public safety and security
  • Are aware of the dangers and complexities involved with the various aspects of work.
  • Be patient and remain calm in stressful situations.
  • Have customer service skills.
  • Have necessary computer skills and know performing tasks with handheld devices.
  • Be professional & able to complete work within the given period.
  • Have a desire to push towards further academic, professional advancement.

What is the salary of a tree surgeon?

Well, like other jobs, the salary is not fixed. It varies between £16,000 and £30,000 or more depending on experience and skills.

The starting salary of an unskilled junior tree surgeon and without any degree is £16,000. After the first two years of experience, you can earn up to £19,000. If you have a bachelor’s or diploma degree and also three-year experience, the salary can rise to between £18,500 and £20,500. However, your salary can reach up to £30,000 depending on your experience, skills, degree, and employer business size.

You can also open up your own business or work in partnership. Then you can charge as much as you like, often fees are based on a day rate. The daily charge ranges between £60 and £135, depending on experience and work demand.

Working hours of a tree surgeon?

A tree surgeon job description is fascinating, but the working hour can take a toll on you. Because, you will be working from Monday to Friday, from 9 am to 5 pm. Also, you will have to work 41- 43 hours or more per week.

However, a tree surgeon doesn’t mind the long working hours and often finds it rewarding. Sometimes, the working hour changes depending on the weather and you have to work on weekends too.

Why should I want to become a tree surgeon?

The work is both physically and mentally demanding. Often you will have to handle dangerous and heavy tools and machinery. But you will get full exposure to nature which is not possible in an office job.

Also, every tree is different and has a unique smell, texture, and odour. After becoming a tree surgeon, you will find that it is an exciting and fulfilling role. With the satisfaction of fulfilling manual labour, you will be facing something new every day.

Ask yourself: Is becoming a tree surgeon right for me?

This profession is not easy and also not for everyone. This profession is for those people who seek an outdoor working scenario. If that’s you and you want to start a career as a tree surgeon, then you have to be ready to work outdoors in all conditions.

is becoming a tree surgeon right for me

You also need to have a calm and confident composer because you often have to work with complicated and dangerous equipment in an elevated and precarious position.

There are a lot of requirements for becoming a tree surgeon. Such as, you need to:

  • Be physically fit.
  • Be not scared of heights and, or clumsy.
  • Be a skilled tree climber and able to work under pressure
  • Have a practical work ethic, combined with an in-depth knowledge of tree growth and development.
  • Be good at map reading.
  • Be good at negotiation.
  • Have a high level of risk awareness.
  • Have good proficiency in using heavy-duty machinery.
  • Be an excellent problem solver.
  • Have excellent communication skills.

If you have these above-mentioned skills and requirements, then why not become a tree surgeon. Read on! 

How to become a tree surgeon?

The first thing you need to consider to become a tree surgeon, how much Education you want to have. Most of them do not have any academic degree; they continue their careers through apprenticeship or working towards this role. However, you can get into this job through:

  • University courses.
  • College courses.
  • Apprenticeship programme.
  • Working towards this role.

Through a University

Taking a university degree is an excellent way to start your career as a tree surgeon. Research shows that 20% of tree surgeons have a bachelor’s degree. And, only a few of them have a master’s degree.

When researching how to become a tree surgeon, choosing the right degree is always an important step. Selecting the perfect major will give you the opportunity to a lot of diverse careers in arboriculture. So, taking a university degree or diploma will allow you to earn a handsome salary than the others.

You can study for a foundation degree, higher national degree, or diploma. Relevant courses to becoming a tree surgeon include:

  • Forestry.
  • Arboriculture.
  • Countryside management.
  • Forest management.
  • Woodland ecology and conservation.

Entry requirements

You will usually need:

  • 1 or 2 A levels, or equivalent, for a foundation degree or HND.
  • 2 to 3 A levels, or equivalent, for a degree.

Through a College

You can become a tree surgeon through a college course. In a college course, you will earn some of the skills and knowledge you need in this job. You do not need to worry about finding a job without a university degree or diploma. Because we found that most of them start their career just after completing a college course. So, you will not be left behind the race when searching for a job.

Relevant college course subjects include:

Entry requirements

You will usually need:

  • Two or more GCSEs at grades 9 to 3 (A* to D), or equivalent, for a level 2 course.
  • 4 or 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C), or equivalent, for a level 3 course.

Through an Apprenticeship

Well, another option to becoming a tree surgeon through an apprenticeship program. The common way to get into this job through an arborist or a forest operative intermediate apprenticeship. Although your salary will be the least compared to the others.

Entry requirements

You will usually need:

  • some GCSEs, usually including English and maths, or equivalent, for an intermediate apprenticeship.

Do you need to have experience when searching for a tree surgeon job?

It’s a tricky question to answer. Because every employer or company has its own set of requirements when recruiting new employees.

After earning a university or college degree, you can gain experience through an apprenticeship program in forestry, arboriculture, or tree work office.

You can also gain experience by doing volunteering work for different conservation organisations or horticultural groups. For instance, you can contact The Tree Council, the National Trust, and the Woodland Trust for volunteering work opportunities.

Although to start your career as a tree surgeon, you do not need any qualification and experience. You can start your career through apprenticeship and developing the necessary skills to progress your career.

If you have previous experience working in forestry, arboriculture, or tree works would be useful when looking for a high-salary job. Two to three years of experience and skills are enough for landing a good job. After four to five years, you can start your own business.

Do I need to have insurance to work as a tree surgeon?

Well, you do need insurance to work as a tree surgeon, but it’s not mandatory.

Most of the time, they work in public areas. So, you need to be properly protected against potential liabilities or accidents. By keeping this in mind, it is important that you should take an insurance package.

In the UK, there are a lot of insurance companies, which provides insurance for tree surgeons. Every package is different from one another. Some package cover, such as:

  • Negligence of public safety and security claims, which were made by the public.
  • Specialised tree surgery tools and machinery. You can quickly replace your equipment if something happens to it.

Thus, taking an insurance package is always the best choice. However, you should be careful when you are working or handling equipment in public areas.

What are the career prospects for a tree surgeon?

As of now, you might be wondering, what is the career improvement option you will have?

The types of job vacancies available to a tree surgeon are as diverse as the establishments they work for. The simple career ladder of the jobs are:

Junior Tree Surgeon > Tree Surgeon > Senior Tree Surgeon > Supervisor or Manager.

tree surgeon career prospects

After achieving a degree or diploma from a college or university, most probably, you will commence your career as a junior tree surgeon. You will continue to develop experience and skills while working there and also rise through the career ladder.

If you have two or three years of experience and earn a degree or diploma, you can directly apply for more senior posts than junior tree surgeon.

After becoming a tree surgeon, you can also apply for other related jobs. The following are the related jobs.

  • Horticulturist
  • Botanist
  • Countryside Ranger
  • Forest Worker
  • Forester
  • Gardener

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Who are the employers of tree surgeons?

There are a lot of job opportunities for a tree surgeon in England. In some areas, there is a shortage of them. Typical employers are:

  • Local government.
  • Govt. organisations such as the National Trust
  • Specialist contractors.
  • Private landowners.
  • Private company.

Most employers or companies that employ tree surgeons are very small and have one or two workers. However, some companies have up to 200 employees or more.

Where can I find the job vacancies for a tree surgeon?

Alright! Now you have all the other necessary information about tree surgeons, such as duties, skills, how to become one. Are you thinking about where you can find work or a job?

You find the job vacancies for tree surgeon on:

  • Govt.uk.
  • Local/national newspapers.
  • The recruitment agencies websites.
  • Tree surgeon companies websites.
  • Indeed.com
  • GreenJobs

You also find work through social media websites, such as LinkedIn, Twitter or Facebook.

Pro tip:  Always update your CV and ensure that your social media profile presents as a professional. Most of the time, your professionalism helps you find a potential employer.

Closing Note

Becoming a tree surgeon is a massive commitment. You need to make sure that it’s the right career path for you before you begin your journey to becoming a tree surgeon.

The work of this job is satisfying and rewarding those people who love nature. By becoming a tree surgeon, you will have the chance to spend more in the wild and care for and protect tree health. Not everyone can proudly say that they are the guardian of nature.

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This Diploma in Gardening course will teach you the methods of natural gardening. Gain the skills of taking care of plants in a more natural way with this course. You can also start your career as a gardener after taking this course.
Diploma in Gardening
This Diploma in Gardening course will teach you the methods of natural gardening. Gain the skills of taking care of plants in a more natural way with this course. You can also start your career as a gardener after taking this course.
April 29, 2021

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