Have you ever wondered what the official name of a tree surgeon is? And why are they called ‘tree surgeons’? Is it a particularly difficult job? Or is being a tree surgeon a realistic and accessible career path that could be on the cards for you?
If you’ve been thinking about switching up your job and focusing your time on a healthier, outdoorsy, and physically demanding career, this is the article for you. Here’s everything you need to know about being a tree surgeon.
What is the correct name for a tree surgeon?
There are many names for tree surgeons: tree loppers, foresters, greens keepers, landscapers, tree hoppers, lumberjacks and more, but the ‘correct’ or official name for a tree surgeon is: arborist (or arboriculturist in some rare cases).
Why do people call arborists tree surgeons?
So, why do people call arborists tree surgeons? Well, there’s a good reason for this and it is because some arborists specialise in fixing and restoring trees. When you are tasked with identifying a tree disease and then prescribing the appropriate treatment to rectify the ailment and bring the tree back to good health, it closely resembles a doctor’s job. That, coupled with the various tools used to trim leaves and remove faulty limbs is where the surgeon aspect comes into it.
Certainly, you won’t be performing open-heart surgery on a tree, but tree surgeons do save lives – only, the lives of the trees on our properties and in our local environment.
Recognising the distinction between arborists, tree surgeons, and a general tree lopper is important. For example, in order to become a fully qualified arborist that can identify the many different tree diseases and know precisely how to restore them back to good health, it takes many years of study and practice.
While you don’t need a formal education to get started in the arboriculture industry, there are certain degrees and courses that you can take to expand your knowledge and further your career in conservation and other environmentally-focused areas.
Is being a tree surgeon a hard job?
So, is being a tree surgeon a hard job? Like anything in life, you get out of it what you put in. Being a tree surgeon is a physically demanding tree that requires an awful lot of health & safety training. However, once you’ve mastered your craft, the job itself is relatively straightforward.
Tree surgeons are required to:
- Prune trees
- Fell and remove trees
- Remove dead and diseased limbs
- Grind and remove stumps
- Identify tree diseases and prescribe the appropriate treatment
- Work at heights using dangerous tools such as chainsaws and sheers
- Identify potential hazards caused by trees
- Plants trees and assess/monitor their health
- Work with commercial clients to produce tree survey reports.
It’s a steep learning curve and there is much to master, however, tree surgery is accessible to anyone with an interest in conservation and a love for climbing trees!
If you never quite grew out of climbing trees as a child, you’ll love this job. It’s physically demanding, great fun, and a wonderful way to make a living while keeping fit and spending your days immersed in nature.
What skills do you need to become a tree surgeon?
While being a tree surgeon is a relatively accessible job, there are certain skills that you will require to succeed, for example:
- Physical skills and hand-eye coordination
- To be thorough and be able to pay attention to your surroundings
- Being able to work well and communicate with others
- Being able to work well with your hands
- Have a keen knowledge and understanding of public safety and security
- Being able to use, maintain, and repair the necessary tools and machines required to carry out your duties
- Having patience and the ability to remain calm in stressful and demanding situations
- Great customer service skills
- Being able to carry out some basic administrative tasks on a computer and mobile device.
What career progression opportunities are there in tree surgery?
As a tree surgeon, there is plenty of room for you to grow and progress. For example, you can do the following:
- Work your way up to a supervisory/managerial role
- Start an arboriculture business of your own
- Start a recreational tree climbing business (e.g., outdoor adventure/treetop assault courses)
- Move abroad to countries like Australia as a qualified arborist.
How do you become a qualified arborist/tree surgeon?
There are a number of different ways to become an arborist in the UK, for example:
- Take a university course in arboriculture and conservation
- Enrol in a college course
- Sign up for an apprenticeship with an arboriculture firm.
Relevant courses required to secure work in this field include:
- Countryside management
- Forest management
- Woodland ecology & conservation.
The minimum required qualifications include:
- For an apprenticeship: some basic GCSEs or equivalent
- For university: 1 or 2 A levels for a foundational degree/diploma and 2 or 3 for a degree
- For college: 2 or more GCSEs for a level 2 course (more for level 3 and beyond).
- The official name for a tree surgeon is an arborist.
- Arborists are called tree surgeons for the health-related work they carry out with diseased and dying trees.
- A tree surgeon isn’t the hardest job in the world, though it is physically demanding and requires extensive practical training.
Provided you have the right skills, and the desire to succeed, and you can find your way onto an apprenticeship, college course, or relevant degree, getting started as a tree surgeon is easy!
We hope you’ve found this article inspiring and wish you the very best of luck with your newly chosen career path.