How to become an arboriculturist

What does an arboriculturist do?

Arboriculturists may be referred to as consultant arboriculturists, arboricultural officers or tree officers. They ensure that trees in amenity and conservation areas are managed, maintained and kept in a safe condition.

Some work as private consultants, supporting and advising companies and individuals. Others are employed by local authorities, taking responsibility for trees owned by the council in public woodland, country parks, parks and recreational spaces, and providing an advisory service to other council departments and the public.

Arboriculturists carry out detailed surveys of sites to record the number of trees and their condition, and decide what work needs to be carried out. This could include pruning, lopping, planting or transplanting and ensuring that planning requests meet legislation and preservation orders are not broken. When trees are to be planted, arboriculturists advise on their selection depending on soil conditions, situation and visual qualities.

They estimate costs for the work to be carried out, prepare contract specifications and supervise contracts. They may also direct manual and supervisory staff.

Arboriculturists may also respond to complaints about individual trees, for example if they have become dangerous or are blocking out light. They may be involved in property issues or insurance claims, for example if a fallen tree has caused damage or a building is in danger of being undermined by tree roots.

Other important tasks include writing reports, consulting with, and advising, the public, council departments, private companies, voluntary organisations or conservation groups and attending/speaking at public meetings.


What's the working environment like working for an arboriculturist?

Arboriculturists usually work a 35 to 39 hour week, Monday to Friday, but could be called out at other times to deal with emergencies.

Some of the work is office-based, but arboriculturists also work in a wide range of locations, including country parks, private estates and private gardens. This involves being outside in all weathers, and sometimes climbing trees to carry out inspections.

Some time may be spent travelling between sites, and occasional periods away from home may be necessary. A driving licence is essential.


What does it take to become an arboriculturist?

To be an arboriculturist you should:

  • be physically fit and have a head for heights
  • have practical skills
  • enjoy working outdoors and be interested in conservation and the environment
  • have a good knowledge of tree biology and pathology
  • have some understanding of civil engineering and construction techniques
  • have good communication skills and be able to read plans and maps
  • be confident and able to present a professional image
  • have management skills and the ability to prioritise
  • have creative ability.


Arboriculturist career opportunities

Arboriculturists are employed by local authorities, private landowners, public bodies, forest management companies, consultancy firms and contracting companies (tree surgery firms). Many experienced arboriculturists become self-employed, while others find work overseas.

It is possible to gain promotion from technical, supervisory or management posts to director level. Registered private consultants or senior positions in local authorities usually require the Royal Forestry Society’s Professional Diploma in Arboriculture or chartered membership of the Institute of Chartered Foresters, gained by passing their professional examination.


Further information

If you would like to learn more about arboriculturist careers that does not appear on Hotcourses, further information can be found below.

The Arboricultural Association
Ampfield House
SO51 9PA
Tel: 01794 368717

Lantra House
Stoneleigh Park
Nr Coventry
Tel: 0845 707 8007

Lantra career advice sites:

Institute of Chartered Foresters
7A St Colme Street
Tel: 0131 225 2705

The Royal Forestry Society
102 High Street
HP23 4AF
Tel: 01442 822 028

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




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