Arboricultural worker Careers

How to become an arboricultural worker

What does an arboricultural worker do?

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.


What's the working environment like for an arboricultural worker?

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.


What does it take to become an arboricultural worker?

To be an arboricultural worker you should:

  • have practical and mechanical skills
  • be physically fit and have a head for heights
  • be interested in conservation and environmental issues
  • be able to work as part of a team
  • have good communication skills
  • have an understanding of health and safety issues.


Arboricultural worker career opportunities

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.


Further information

If you would like to know anything more about arboricultural workers that is not mentioned on Hotcourses, further information can be found below.

Arboricultural Association
Ampfield House
SO51 9PA
Tel: 01794 368717

Lantra House
Stoneleigh Park
Nr Coventry
Tel: 0845 707 8007

Lantra career advice sites:

National Proficiency Tests Council (NPTC)
Stoneleigh Park
Tel: 024 7685 7300

Scottish Skills Testing Service (SSTS)
EH28 8NE
Tel: 0131 333 2040

Lantra Awards

Royal Forestry Society (RFS)
102 High Street
HP23 4AF
Tel: 01442 822028

International Society of Arboriculture (ISA)
148 Hydes Road
West Midlands
WS10 0DR
Tel: 0121 556 8302

Groundwork UK

Wildlife Trust

British Trust for Conservation Volunteers

Woodland Trust

National Trust



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