What Does an Arborist Do?
Trees are a vital part of our environment. They provide shade, produce oxygen and help keep streets and cities cool. They also serve as homes for wildlife and add to the beauty of a landscape.
Arborists are tree care specialists who study trees and provide a variety of services to preserve them. They prune, fertilize and remove trees when necessary to maintain their health and appearance.
An arborist may work in a commercial, residential or municipal setting. They are often called upon to advise on selecting and planting trees, as well as evaluate the condition of existing trees and make recommendations for their care. They also inspect tree branches for damage and provide advice on whether or not to prune or remove them.
They may also be responsible for assessing the value of a property’s trees, particularly heritage trees, before a development plan can go forward. In some jurisdictions, they are required to consult with land owners before pruning or removing trees and to ensure that work on a tree is done safely.
Their job is more comprehensive than that of a tree service technician, as they have to take into account the entire tree’s health and structure. This means they are also trained to diagnose diseases and provide a solution when one develops.
Pruning and thinning are the most common types of work performed by arborists. This is usually done to improve the health of a tree by removing dead, diseased or crowded limbs. They also trim branches that may be too close to power lines, structures or other hazards.
Some arborists also perform pesticide and fertilizer applications, spraying for insect infestations and applying nutrients to bare roots. They may use a variety of tools, including trucks, tractors, chippers, and saws, to trim and cut tree limbs.
Depending on the type of work they perform, arborists can also have to climb into trees using a work positioning system or ropes. This requires physical fitness and comfort with heights.
Their work involves working outdoors in all weather conditions. They are often called out to emergency situations such as storms that knock down trees, causing transportation blockages and power outages.
They can also work on urban greening projects, helping to plant trees in city parks and other areas that require taller and more mature trees. They can also assist with identifying and eliminating invasive trees that cause problems for native plants in a region.
How to Become an Arborist
The minimum education for this career is a high school diploma or GED certificate, and many employers expect arborists to have at least a few years of on-the-job training in tree care before they can advance. Earning a bachelor’s degree in horticulture, forestry or arboriculture can also help you grow your career as an arborist.
Professional Certification is a Key to Success
An ISA-certified arborist has demonstrated a level of knowledge in the practice of tree care. They have to complete a rigorous exam and participate in continuing education activities to maintain their certification.