How to Become an Arborist
Is becoming an arborist a dream of yours? Do you just need a step in the right direction? You have come to the right place! We are going to discuss the ins and outs of becoming a certified arborist, as well as what you should expect when you become one.
Making sure you do everything correctly can be intimidating and time-consuming, but it will absolutely be worth it in the end.
The Extent of an Arborist’s Work
First, let’s discuss what the job and career will actually entail.
Arborists have a variety of different tasks that they handle, all having to do with trees. They can be hired by individual people, companies, or even residents of a community to make sure that their trees are taken care of and look good.
Arborists do of course need an extensive knowledge of trees and plant life. They have many different skills, including thoroughly maintaining, pruning, and fertilizing trees. On top of that, they plant new trees and care for them throughout their entire life cycles. Arborists can also be asked to rescue trees if there is a problem with them, like pest control or tree diseases.
They also handle the clearing of trees when needed. When cities have large storms or natural disasters, arborists are called in to clear them out of the way of roads and other public areas.
This is an incredibly important job and career and is definitely a great thing to aspire to.
As far as education is concerned, there is not a specific point you have to reach to become a certified arborist.
You do not necessarily have to have a bachelor’s degree to become an arborist, however, it may, of course, be preferred by some employers. If you decide to go for a degree, there are many different courses you will need to take.
For an Associates program in arboriculture, you will take courses in community forestry, soil fertility, and plant pathology. On top of that, there may be some classes on turfgrass management. If you decide to go for a Bachelor’s degree in forestry or urban forestry, you will also take classes in botany, soil science, and forest ecology. You may even be able to get a minor in arboriculture with a four-year degree too.
If you just want to dip your toes into the waters of becoming an arborist, completing an internship is an excellent way to start. That way if you are on the fence, you’re not pouring money into a degree you may not use. There are some programs that will allow you to complete an internship that allows you to gain some hands-on experience in arboriculture. We have a great opportunity ourselves if you are in the San Francisco area!
In addition to internships, there are other ways you can gain experience for future employment as an arborist as well.
On the job training is a great way to do this. Landscaping companies, tree care companies, and nurseries are often looking for people in this particular field. When you are hired you will have opportunities to interact with clients regularly, clear debris, identify plants and trees, and using basic tree maintenance tools.
This kind of opportunity is a great way to build your tree care skills, as well as your skills with customer service and even leadership. If you are the kind of arborist who can confidently handle a crew well, you will be very valuable in your field.
What to Expect
So once you have done the research, the schooling, and have the experience you need, what should you expect as an arborist?
There are so many different companies you could work for, or tasks you could be assigned to do, so the experience will not be the same for every arborist. You could work for a power company, arborist firm, municipalities, etc.. Once you have enough experience you could even consider your own landscaping company. This is why it can be difficult to gauge what your life will look like in this field.
As far as money is concerned, your salary will vary based on a few different factors. Experience, job description, and location all have a large effect on what you will be making. The average in the United States is around $40,000 a year, with salaries being anywhere from $24,000 to $64,000.
One thing is for sure, you will be spending quite a lot of time outside in your line of work. There will be all sorts of different weather and natural occurrences that you will experience, depending on where you work. You will also be in direct contact with trees, as well as the plants and insects that live on and in them. This could open you up to experiencing cuts, bites, and stings on occasion.
You will also need to be aware of being potentially exposed to pesticides, as well as working near power lines, and working with very strong electric tools. Making sure that you are wearing the proper safety gear and being mindful are vitally important as an arborist.
Because this job does entail a lot of physical labor and climbing, keeping yourself in good shape is also a good idea.
All in all, this is a wonderful, beautiful job to be a part of. You are working to maintain the health and beauty of the natural world, which is a very noble cause. It will be hard work, but it will absolutely be worth every second you spend on it.
Just like with any other jobs, there will be aspects that will be more difficult than others, but it will have so many positives as well.
If you do have additional questions on getting started, or want to potentially join the Arborist Now team, don’t hesitate to contact us!