A professional tree surgeon, or arborist, is a specialist who has been trained to assess the health of trees, prune them and remove them as necessary. Their job also involves planting new trees and stump grinding (removing the remains of dead or damaged trees). This is a physically demanding role that often requires working at heights and use of heavy equipment, therefore the right candidate should be fit and healthy. Other important skills include knowledge of the appropriate safety procedures, and an ability to work in a team or alone.
A tree surgeon may be employed by a private client or by a local authority, although some are self-employed. The job is typically full-time and may involve travel between sites in their region. Applicants should be comfortable working in the outdoors, regardless of weather conditions, as their work will usually be carried out in rain or bright sunshine. It is also a high-risk occupation that could lead to serious injury if not carried out correctly, so it is important that candidates are fully qualified and insured before applying.
To become a tree surgeon, you can either complete a degree course in forestry or arboriculture, or gain practical experience through an apprenticeship. An apprenticeship can offer you on-the-job training, along with the chance to study for a foundation or higher national diploma. You can also find voluntary roles with environmental conservation or horticultural organisations to help you build your skills and gain practical experience.
Some people may confuse the terms tree surgeon and arborist, as they both carry out similar tasks. However, it is vital that you choose a professional who is certified by an accredited body to ensure that they have the correct qualifications and experience.
The responsibilities of a tree surgeon are to keep trees healthy, and this includes pruning existing trees that have overgrown, and removing dead or dying branches, or those that are unsafe in some way. They can also plant trees and provide advice on how to do this in a safe and effective manner. They may also be called on to remove large trees or clear land for development, and this is known as vegetation site clearance.
In this process, the tree surgeon will use heavy machinery to cut the tops off of trees and to grind out any remaining stumps. This is a difficult task that should only be carried out by an experienced and qualified tree surgeon, and they will also be trained in the relevant safety procedures.