How to become an Arboriculturist. Read through our comprehensive job guide to learn more about this career.
What does an Arboriculturist do?
Arboriculturists make sure that trees in parks and conservation areas are managed, maintained and kept in a safe condition. They may also be known as consultant arboriculturists, arboricultural officers or tree officers.
As an arboriculturist, your tasks would include:
- carrying out detailed surveys of sites to record the number of trees and their condition
- deciding if work such as pruning, lopping, planting or transplanting is needed
- making sure that planning requests meet legislation, and preservation orders are not broken
- advising on the selection of new trees depending on soil conditions, situation and appearance
- estimating costs for the work to be carried out
- preparing contract specifications and supervising contracts
- directing manual and supervisory staff in some jobs
- responding to complaints about individual trees, for example if they have become dangerous or are blocking out light
- dealing with property issues or insurance claims, for example if a fallen tree has caused damage.
You would also consult with, and advise, the public, council departments, private companies, voluntary organisations or conservation groups, and attend or speak at public meetings.
You would usually work 35 to 39 hours a week, Monday to Friday, but you could be called out at other times to deal with emergencies.
Some of your work would be office-based, but you could also work in a wide range of places, including country parks and private estates. This would involve being outside in all weather conditions, and sometimes climbing trees to carry out inspections.
You would usually spend some time travelling between sites.
How much does an Arboriculturist earn?
Salary and pay information:
Arboriculturalists can earn between £21,000 and over £29,000 a year.
Figures are intended as a guideline only.
You can become an arboriculturist in two ways:
- with a degree, foundation degree or BTEC HND in subjects such as arboriculture, arboriculture and urban forestry, forestry and woodland management
- by a mixture of experience and a professional qualification.
To search for foundation degrees, HNDs and degrees, visit the UCAS website.
You should check entry requirements with individual colleges or universities. For some courses, you might need an A level or equivalent in a science subject, and possibly some practical experience. You may be able to gain work experience by volunteering with an organisation such as the National Trust.
- National Trust
If you are already employed in the industry you can complete an online foundation degree offered by Myerscough College.
- Myerscough College
You may also be able to begin at a practical level and progress by gaining experience and taking professional qualifications. See the Arboricultural Worker profile for details.
Training and Development
Once you are employed in arboriculture, you can study for the following professional qualifications:
- Arboricultural Association Technician’s Certificate in Arboriculture
- Royal Forestry Society Professional Diploma in Arboriculture (DipArb (RFS)
- Institute of Chartered Foresters Professional Examination (with arboriculture options)
- International Society of Arboriculture certification programme.
Visit the websites of the individual organisations for details of their qualifications.
You can also do short training courses in areas such as tree hazard evaluation and arboricultural consultancy at colleges that specialise in land-based industries.
If you are employed as a local authority tree officer, you can do short courses covering your statutory and discretionary responsibilities through the Arboricultural Association.
To become a registered private consultant or gain a senior position in a local authority, you will usually need the Royal Forestry Society’s Professional Diploma in Arboriculture or chartered membership of the Institute of Chartered Foresters (ICF) – you can gain this by passing their professional exam.
Joining a professional body, such as the Arboricultural Association or the ICF, will give you opportunities for continuous professional development (CPD), professional recognition and networking. Visit the organisations’ websites for details.
Skills and Knowledge
- an interest in conservation and the environment
- a good knowledge of tree biology and pathology
- some understanding of civil engineering and construction techniques
- practical skills
- the ability to read plans and maps
- good communication skills
- confidence and a professional image
- management skills
- the ability to prioritise your workload
- physical fitness and a head for heights.
You could be employed as an arboriculturist by:
- local authorities
- private landowners
- forest management companies
- consultancy firms
- contracting companies (tree surgery firms).
With experience you could progress from technical, supervisory or management posts to director level. Alternatively you could become self-employed.
You may find the following links useful for job vacancies and general reading (links open in new window):
- Countryside Jobs
- LG Jobs
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