The skills of the professional arborist are more valuable than ever because of the increased recognition of the environmental, economic, and social benefits of trees. Attractively designed, healthy, and well-maintained gardens, and grounds create a positive impression, establish a peaceful mood, and increase property values. Read more about the value of trees.
Arborists perform the variety of tasks necessary to achieve a pleasant and functional outdoor environment – install plants and other elements into landscaped areas and maintain them for decades to come. They work on private residences, golf courses, cemeteries, university campuses, commercial properties, and parks. General tree work includes pruning dead or diseased branches from trees or shrubs to enhance tree longevity. Pruning is also necessary to clear roads, sidewalks, or utilities’ equipment or to improve the appearance, health, and value of trees. After storms they work to removed downed trees from houses and driveways while performing crown restoration work to save damaged shade trees. Some highly skilled arborists specialize in pruning, trimming and shaping ornamental trees and shrubs for private residences, golf courses, or other institutional grounds.
Many career choices exist within the arboricultural profession, including a common path to business ownership. A standard progression might follow a pattern such as: ground worker; climber; certified arborist, tree care specialist or plant health care technician; supervisor or safety trainer; manager, sales manager or regional supervisor; and company owner. Consultancy work and research are additional career pathways.
Entry to the profession will depend upon your education and experience, but the same opportunity for advancement is present for everyone. Both collegiate and vocational training is available and qualifications, certificates of competence and licenses are essential for progression. Employers commonly provide on-the-job training for entry level positions in arboriculture. Career advancement is readily available through specialized training.
TCIAF and TCIA have extensive experience with the delivery of employee-oriented, correspondence-based training courses; employer-oriented, guided materials and employee/employer-oriented workshops. TCIA accredits tree care companies, develops safety and education programs, establishes standards of tree care practice, and provides management information for arboriculture firms around the world. Together, TCIAF and TCIA provide continuing education, training, conferences and publications to promote the safe and appropriate practice of tree care.
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Commercial arborists, plant, prune, cable, fertilize, inspect, and protect trees during construction; reduce impacts of pest damage; and remove trees.
Municipal, or "urban" foresters manage trees and green spaces owned by cities. This aspect of arboriculture deals mainly with trees along streets and boulevards, city parks and around public buildings. Urban foresters provide services similar to those provided by commercial arborists but also develop and enforce tree ordinances.
Utility arboriculture is more than just electrical line clearance to prevent power outages. It also involves planning tree maintenance, awarding contracts, and inspecting the work performed. Utility arborists work with property owners to teach them about the need for proper tree maintenance near utility lines. They also advise customers on tree species that are suitable for planting near power lines.
Consulting arborists provide clients with information on diagnosing plant health, appraising plants for value, and other issues. As a consulting arborist, you may be contracted by homeowners, insurance companies, municipalities, lawyers, planners, developers, landscape architects, or others.
There are opportunities in many aspects of arboricultural research. Universities, arboreta, and larger companies are the main employers of tree care researchers.
Commercial tree service companies
Public utility companies
City, county, and other government agencies
Landscape maintenance firms, nurseries, and garden centers
Arboriculture equipment and chemical manufacturers
Cooperative Extension Service, universities, and community colleges
Industrial complexes, private estates, theme parks, and resorts
Arboreta, botanical gardens, and tree research centers
Landscape architectural planning and development firms
Professional associations and publishers of trade magazines