Arboricultural workers, sometimes known as arborists, are involved in planting, cultivating and maintaining trees and shrubs grown for amenity purposes. There are three main kinds of worker: planter, climber or tree surgeon, and ground staff. Some jobs combine all three of these.
Climbers work at heights of up to 36 metres, pruning diseased trees or removing branches that are potentially hazardous. They wear a safety harness and use ropes and various items of rigging equipment.
Ground staff ensure the safety of pedestrians in the vicinity, clear sites of debris, and assist climbers by passing them tools and re-fuelling chainsaws. They also need climbing skills to assist the climber if necessary.
Planters prepare the ground for tree planting, plant young trees, and apply pesticides and fertilisers.
Arboricultural workers use a range of equipment, including hand tools for planting and cutting, and power tools such as chainsaws, hedge cutters and strimmers. They are responsible for the maintenance of their equipment.
Arboricultural workers work a 40-hour week - often with paid overtime. They may be called out to deal with emergencies such as storm damaged trees. Some work such as tree planting may be seasonal.
The work could be in country and urban parks, on public highways, in amenity woodlands, botanical gardens or small privately-owned gardens. Most work takes place outdoors in all weather conditions. Employers may provide transport, and occasional periods away from home could be necessary.
The job involves a lot of noise and exposure to sawdust and fumes. Safety equipment such as protective boots, trousers, gloves, helmets, ear defenders, a face visor or a protective mask are necessary for some tasks.
A driving licence is usually necessary.
To be an arboricultural worker you should:
Employers include local authorities, private landowners, public bodies and forest management companies. The main employers are specialist contractors who carry out work for commercial enterprises, utility companies and other clients. Commercial firms range in size from sole traders to management companies with up to 250 employees. Small firms of less than ten are more typical.
Progression is usually from craftsman to supervisor to manager depending on qualifications and experience. Many experienced arboricultural workers start their own small businesses.
There are opportunities for trained staff, especially climbers, to work overseas.
If you would like to know anything more about arboricultural workers that is not mentioned on Hotcourses, further information can be found below.
Tel: 01794 368717
Tel: 0845 707 8007
Scottish Skills Testing Service (SSTS)
Tel: 0131 333 2040
Royal Forestry Society (RFS)
102 High Street
Tel: 01442 822028
International Society of Arboriculture (ISA)
148 Hydes Road
Tel: 0121 556 8302
British Trust for Conservation Volunteers