To become an arborist, one would require formal education as well as practical experience working with trees.
Working in a landscaping company, tree care company, municipality, or nursery, is necessary to receive training on the job.
While working in any of these companies is not a major requirement, some employers make it mandatory for their workers to receive ISA (International Society of Arboriculture) certification.
Before enrolling for a program in arboriculture, you need to have a bachelor’s degree in a related field or a work experience. The prerequisites required for admission will be enlisted before a student can be accepted.
Arboriculture programs entail topics like tree management, care, and cultivation. The programs also cover transplantation, invasive species removal, planting, structural support, pruning, and invasive species removal.
Becoming an arborist is one of the best occupations for someone who has a great appreciation of nature and love the outdoors. It is also a rewarding career.
Most arborists often trace their passion for their childhood, while they enjoyed climbing trees and playing in tree houses. This makes it easy to turn such passion into a career.
Being an arborist will equip you with adequate knowledge about how trees respond to damages caused by nature and man and how they grow in both natural and urban settings.
Have you ever dreamt of becoming an arborist? Are you in need of guidelines that will assist in knowing what it entails to become a certified arborist? The following are detailed steps that will guide you in becoming an arborist.
To become a certified arborist, there is no specific point that you must attain to become one. Earning a bachelor’s degree in arboriculture is not a necessity. However, some employees consider a bachelor’s degree as one of the necessary conditions for employment.
To earn a bachelor’s degree in arboriculture, there are several courses that you have to enroll in. Courses in plant pathology, soil fertility, and community forestry are prerequisite courses for an associates program in arboriculture. Also, there may be classes on turfgrass management.
Courses in soil science, botany, and forest ecology are required for a Bachelor’s degree in forestry or urban forestry.
Choosing to enroll for a diploma or a degree in arboriculture will give you in-depth knowledge about how trees react to situations, what they need from their environment, and how they grow. You will be well equipped with the practical side of the industry, the techniques for tree climbing, and the usage of wood chippers and chainsaws. The courses will also teach you the business aspect of the industry which will guide you in running your own company in the future.
Apart from enrolling for a bachelor’s degree or a diploma in arboriculture, other options will assist you in starting your career as an arborist.
One such option is starting a job in the field with no prior education or training. This way, you will gain more knowledge while you work as an intern.
Another option is to enroll for short courses in a related field in a college or training school. While running this short course, you will gain knowledge about the industry and learn some basic techniques that will guide you in becoming an arborist.
You can also find a company or local college that provides an apprenticeship program in arboriculture. This way, you will find out the tasks that are being run in tree care companies and gain more knowledge from colleagues.
- Gaining experience
Apart from internships, there are other methods of gaining experience for working as an arborist. A great way to gain experience is by training on the job. Tree care companies, landscaping companies, and nurseries often look for people who are interested in training as an arborist.
Once you are hired, you will be granted the opportunity to use basic maintenance tools, interact with clients regularly, identify trees and plants, and clear debris.
This experience will improve your skills in leadership, customer service, and tree care.
- Things to expect
After conducting your research, finding out the schools to enroll in and the companies to work to gain experience, the next step is to know the things to expect as an arborist.
You should be aware that the experience will be not similar to every arborist. This is because there are different companies you could work for (such as an arborist firm, a power company, etc) and different tasks will be assigned at these companies.
In terms of finance, your salary as an arborist will depend upon several factors such as job description, experience, and location. These factors will play a major role in determining what your salary will be. For example, salaries range between $24,000 to $64, 000 in the United States.
You should be aware that you will spend a lot of time outside your field. You may experience weather and natural occurrences and this will depend upon where you work. You will also spend time observing trees and the insects and plants that live on and in the trees. Due to this, you could experience stings, bites, and cuts.
You should also note that you might have to work with strong electric tools and neat power lines. You might also be exposed to pesticides.
To become an arborist, it is important that you are always mindful of the things around you and that you wear proper safety gear always.
Keep your body fit as you will be engaged with a lot of climbing and other physical labor.
Arboriculture is a noble field as you will be amongst those that are working towards maintaining the beauty of the natural world. It is also a wonderful job.
Just like other jobs, being an arborist means that you must be hardworking and extra cautious of the things around you.
The following is a comprehensive list of some common positions in the tree care industry.
- Grounds Person
Most people who are coming into the arboricultural industry from college programs and with no prior knowledge about the field usually start as a grounds person.
A grounds person operates on a range of machinery such as electric hedge trimmers, chainsaws, wood chippers, and some hand tools that are used for pruning. They also control the rigging ropes and pull lines, work with a crew to assist in the removal of shrubs and trees, learn about the compartmentalization in trees, assist in rigging operations, and minimize exposure to decay by correcting pruning practices.
In this field, you will learn about machinery, safety, and other techniques that need to be learned through training.
- Climbing Arborist
This is the most rewarding position where most arborists engage in at some point in their careers.
It takes time, dedication, commitment, and learning from others to become an efficient climbing arborist.
Becoming a climbing arborist entails undertaking several types of pruning such as crown reduction, deadwood removal, crown raising, crown thinning, and so on. You will also be required to engage in various rigging systems as a way of performing tree removals of different sizes.
Some work specifications will require you to implement bracing systems within the canopy and install lightning protection in important trees.
If you are the most experienced or knowledgeable in your crew, you will be required to lead the others.
- Plant healthcare technician
Since most trees and shrubs have poor environments as compared to their natural habitat, a plant healthcare technician focuses on keeping plants in urban environments in a healthy state.
You will need to have good knowledge about soil science, good plant identification, and proper understanding of diseases and pests. With this knowledge, you will be able to diagnose issues with shrubs and trees and organize a program to deal with these issues, for instance, pesticide application, fertilization, etc.
- Arborist Representative
Most arborists that are seeking a less physically demanding role usually become arborist representatives as their career progresses.
This position requires meeting with company clients, listening to their tree care needs, providing professional advice to them, and coming up with suggestions and management plans for tree care.
Becoming an arborist representative will require understanding arboriculture, as well as the practical aspect. You should also have good communication skills.
- Tree consultant
Tree consultancy is a field that is more theory-based and less practical. You will be asked to inspect several trees based on your client’s requests. It could be for various reasons such as insurance companies, personal worries, etc.
As a tree consultant, you will observe the tree as well as the environment to learn about the health of the tree and find out if it poses a potential risk. If the tree does, you will ascertain the level of the risk. Afterward, you will give recommendations based on the result of your study.
Arborists are needed by individuals, companies, and even residents of a community to ensure that trees are well taken care of. It is an incredible career that one should aspire to become. By following these guidelines, you can become a certified arborist.