Similar Titles

Arborist, Tree Care Specialist, Tree Maintenance Technician, Tree Service Technician, Tree Pruning Technician, Tree Removal Specialist, Tree Health Technician, Urban Forestry Technician, Tree Climber, Tree Care Crew Member

Job Description

There are three trillion trees growing around the planet and many of them live for hundreds of years. To stay healthy and trimmed, trees in public and residential areas require ongoing regular care and maintenance from skilled workers called Tree Technicians (aka arborists or tree trimmers). 

They remove or treat diseased trees, apply pesticides and soil amendments, cut down branches and limbs that are close to houses and power lines, prune and trim for aesthetic purposes, and clear away trees that have fallen. To reach high parts of a tree they’re working on, they use climbing gear to carefully scale up, being very mindful of the sharp tools they take with them. Though the job is inherently risky, Tree Technicians are thoroughly trained to do the work safely! 

Rewarding Aspects of Career
  • Working outdoors and staying physically active
  • Helping trees stay healthy and pest-free  
  • Keeping community residents and properties safe from falling trees and limbs
  • Improving property values 
2021 Employment
2031 Projected Employment
The Inside Scoop
Job Responsibilities

Working Schedule

  • Tree Technicians often work full-time but some positions may be part-time. Work schedules may vary by season. Frequent travel within a designated boundary (such as a city or county) is needed. 

Typical Duties

  • Review work schedules and prepare vehicles and equipment for transport to the worksite
  • Review cost estimates and budgets with clients, when needed
  • Assess worksites for potential hazards or risks to bystanders. Post warning signs around the perimeter
  • Examine trees for signs of disease or pests
  • Scale trees using climbing gear or use boom trucks to reach high tree limbs and branches
  • Carefully hoist up tools to workers. Safely lower cut branches using ropes or pulleys
  • Use hand or power saws to cut limbs and thick branches. Use pruning shears, loppers, and pole pruners for thinner branches
  • Cut away branches or limbs that are close to power lines or houses or that might obstruct views along sidewalks or roads
  • Trim trees to enhance their appearance and increase property values 
  • Remove or cut tree stumps
  • Apply protective tar or other coatings to tree bases
  • Feed tree waste into shredding and chipping machines
  • Clear away tree debris from work sites and surrounding areas. Use rakes to clear smaller branches, twigs, leaves, etc. into piles, then shovel them up
  • Load debris into trucks. Haul and properly dispose of debris 
  • Spray pesticides. Water, root-feed, and fertilize trees with soil amendments to keep them healthy
  • Inject fertilizers into trees and perform soil root therapy to promote health 
  • Mix and apply pesticides and other chemicals

Additional Responsibilities

  • Operate, maintain, load, and clean transportation vehicles and trailers
  • As needed, operate boom trucks, loaders, stump chippers, tractors, skid steers, wood chippers, excavators, and hydraulic sprayers
  • Regularly inspect, lubricate, and maintain tools and equipment. Perform basic repairs or sharpening, if trained 
  • Clear out decayed materials from tree cavities, and seal holes as needed
  • Stabilize trees or limbs with braces, stakes, cables, or ties
  • Carefully uproot and transplant trees and shrubs 
  • Train and mentor new workers and watch out for their safety as they learn the ropes
  • Maintain constant vigilance of the work site to ensure no one is in the way of a potentially falling limb or tool
Skills Needed on the Job

Soft Skills

  • Detail-oriented
  • Focus
  • Goal-oriented
  • Hand-eye coordination
  • Initiative
  • Methodical 
  • Observant
  • Organized
  • Patient
  • Safety-focused
  • Sound judgment and decision-making
  • Strength and stamina
  • Strong communication skills 
  • Time management 

Technical Skills

  • Ability to carry and load up to 70 lbs
  • Ability to operate and maintain vehicles
  • Ability to safely use hand and power saws, pruning shears, loppers, pole pruners, and other cutting tools 
  • First aid and CPR
  • Familiarity with operating boom trucks, loaders, tractors, skid steers, wood chippers, excavators, and hydraulic sprayers
  • Knowledge of soil and soil amendments 
  • Knowledge of tree/limb braces, stakes, cables, and ties
  • Knowledge of tree pesticides, fertilizers, protective tars, and related chemicals
  • Proper wear of personal protective equipment including helmets, gloves, and eye protection, as well as ropes, harnesses, lanyards, 
  • Strength and stamina 
Different Types of Organizations
  • Federal, state, or local government agencies
  • Landscaping and lawn care companies
  • Botanical gardens 
Expectations and Sacrifices

Tree Technician work requires constant exposure to outdoor elements, such as hot or cold weather, wind, rain, humidity, etc. There are many hazards that workers must guard against, including sharp tools, whirring chainsaw blades, heights, and exposure to noise, dust, chemicals, pests, and wildlife. 

Per the Bureau of Labor Statistics, “Tree trimmers and pruners…have some of the highest rates of injuries and illnesses of all occupations.” Employers know the dangers of this profession and expect workers to comply with safety and emergency procedures and to wear appropriate personal protective gear. To the extent possible, Tree Technicians should plan out the work to be done ahead of time, and anticipate potential problems so they can avoid them. 

Current Trends

Things don’t change too much in the tree care business, but a trend to note is the ongoing demand for more environmentally-friendly green practices. This can include the pesticides and fertilizers used on trees, as well as considerations about recycling tree debris. The industry is increasingly using drones in larger operations to gather visual data. There are even drones now equipped with saws for thinning forest trees!

What kinds of things did people in this career enjoy doing when they were younger…

Tree Technicians (aka climbers and groundsman arborists) are typically physically active people who don’t mind working outdoors with their hands. They’re comfortable with using hand tools and powered equipment and might have taken shop classes in high school. They may have grown up in rural areas, perhaps taking jobs helping out on farms. Strong verbal communication skills and teamwork are also essential, and these may have been developed from extracurricular activities like playing sports. 

Education and Training Needed
  • Tree Technicians generally need at least a high school diploma or GED
  • While a college degree isn’t needed, some workers hold an Arborist Certification
  • The International Society of Arboriculture offers several online courses and certification options, such as:
  • ISA Certified Arborist
  • ISA Certified Arborist Utility Specialist
  • ISA Certified Arborist Municipal Specialist
  • ISA Certified Tree Worker Climber Specialist
  • ISA Certified Tree Worker Aerial Lift Specialist
  • Certified arborists are sometimes called “tree doctors” because they learn how to keep trees healthy through treatment such as deep root or tree spikes fertilization and injection
  • Having a driver’s license or commercial driver license (CDL) may help boost your application, but isn’t always needed
  • Entry-level workers can learn safety protocols and duties through On-the-Job training
  • Due to the risks associated with this profession, employers may require regular drug testing 
Things to look for in an university
  • Tree Technicians don’t need a college degree, but some complete arboriculture classes or certifications from a local vocational school or online program. 
Things to do in High School and College
  • Future Tree Technicians should participate in sports and physical fitness activities to get in shape
  • Take shop classes where you can learn about safe tool and equipment usage
  • Volunteer or apply for outdoor jobs working with landscaping and tree care. Learn about common tree diseases and pests and ways to identify and treat them
  • Look for companies offering arborist internships
  • Get your driver’s license and consider applying for a CDL
  • Talk to a working Tree Technician to ask about the job’s pros and cons
  • Watch videos (such as on Strider Trees YouTube channel) to learn about safe climbing and groundsman work 
Typical Roadmap
Tree Technician  Roadmap
How to Land your 1st job
  • Smaller local companies may list job openings on Craigslist while larger companies might post on Indeed or Angi. State and federal employers also use USAJOBS
  • Try doing a Google search for local tree service providers and check out their websites. Even if you don’t see a job vacancy, you could still reach out to them about upcoming opportunities. Some companies offer arborist trainee internships and seasonal work
  • If you take college courses related to arboriculture, ask instructors or fellow students about openings they’re aware of or connections they have. Many jobs are found through networking!
  • Ask working Tree Technicians to ask how they landed their jobs
  • Be ready to pass a drug screening test, if needed
  • Make a list of potential personal references. Ask for permission to share their contact info
  • During interviews, demonstrate your knowledge of the industry and highlight your commitment to safety. Be familiar with arborist terminology and applicable OSHA regulations
  • Review sample arborist interview questions to practice your responses
How to Climb the Ladder
  • Arborist work has some of the highest injury rates of all professions, due to risks of falling or slipping, cuts from sharp tools and chainsaws, dropping tree branches and limbs, and exposure to inclement weather, noise, pests, and chemicals. Practicing outstanding safety at all times is a great way to show your employer that you’re a responsible worker 
  • Tree Technicians may qualify for additional responsibilities (and pay raises) by getting to work on time, working well with others, and taking care of tools, equipment, and vehicles
  • Always continue learning new things! Ask your employer which ISA certifications you should get that would benefit the company
    • For example, if they need someone on the team who can perform certain tasks or operate particular equipment, let them know you’re willing to do the training
  • Work effectively as part of a team that gets the job done right, follows safety protocols at all times, doesn’t cut corners, and avoids mishaps  
  • Participate in professional organizations and be an asset to your employer’s company
  • Train new workers patiently and thoroughly. Set high standards so they will learn to do the job safely
  • Stay up to date on trends and industry changes—including OSHA regulations—that can help improve performance and reduce worker mishaps 
Plan B

The work of a Tree Technician can be exhausting and dangerous. While many people love this line of work, it’s not for everyone! If you’re curious about related career fields, consider some of the below options: 

  • Agricultural Worker
  • Farmworker/Laborer
  • Forest and Conservation Workers
  • Greenskeeper
  • Groundskeeper
  • Landscaper
  • Logging Worker
  • Nursery Technician
  • Pesticide Handler
  • Tree Faller

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