What Is a Tree Surgeon? 12 Things (2024) You Ought to Know

A tree surgeon is a job that involves nurturing trees to good health and providing services to promote tree conservation.

If you’re attempting to maintain your property, then you may need assistance from these professionals from time to time.

If you’re seeking a career that keeps you outdoors and allows you to help the environment, then this job may be for you.

Whatever brings you here, we’ll help you understand what a tree surgeon is, what they do, how to become one, and any other questions you may have.

1. What is a tree surgeon?

A tree surgeon is a horticulturist maintenance engineer.

They specialize in tree care services and cultivation, and they use their knowledge and skills to assess the health of trees and conduct tree care services to restore health or maintain it.

Here are tree services that tree surgeons often offer:

bulletPlanting and replanting: Tree surgeons utilize their cultivation expertise to plant (and replant) trees in environments that will promote the good health of the trees and their surroundings.

bulletPest control: Tree surgeons assist with pest control to help eliminate pests that may impact the health of the tree(s).

bulletTree felling: Tree surgeons perform tree felling, which is the act of cutting down trees.

They remove them if they’re dead or if a client requests the removal of a healthy tree.

bulletStump removal: To completely remove a tree after cutting one down, the surgeon will remove the stump as well.

bulletPruning: Pruning is the act of trimming or cutting tree branches.

Tree surgeons also perform this act to help maintain the health of trees.

They often have strong tree-climbing skills as well as power tool knowledge to perform the above services.

2. What does a tree surgeon do?

As noted above, these professionals use their skills to climb and cut trees with power tools and machinery.

If you decide to hire a tree surgeon (or become one), here are the daily duties that the job includes:

bulletPreparing landscaping plans

bulletCreating quotes and invoices for customers

bulletGenerating tree survey reports

bulletValidating all insurance and liability documents

bulletOperating heavy machinery for tree care

bulletClimbing trees to extreme heights for tree care

bulletUsing personal protective equipment

bulletFollowing all safety procedures and protocols

3. What skills does a tree surgeon need to be successful?

If you’re considering becoming a tree surgeon, you should have proficiency with power tools and other dangerous equipment.

You will use this equipment while being suspended high up in trees/air.

You should also have extensive knowledge of tree species, growing patterns, proper tree trimming and pruning techniques, and any warning signs of diseases or pest infestation.

Furthermore, a tree surgeon often possesses the following traits and skills:


bulletTime management

bulletAttention to detail

bulletWritten and verbal communication

bulletAbility to remain calm in high-stress situations

4. What responsibilities does a tree surgeon have?

 A tree surgeon is often called to a property in any of the following situations:

bulletTrees need to be felled

bulletShrubs or branches need to be pruned

bulletLogs need to be split

bulletFallen trees need to be moved

bulletNew trees must be planted where others have been removed previously

Being a tree surgeon is often very exciting as you’ll spend much of your time up in the branches of a tree or digging around its roots.

If you love being out in nature and planting new trees, then this is an ideal profession for you.

You’re playing an essential role in the ecosystem and keeping it healthy.

5. Why do trees need doctors and surgeons?

Did you know that trees can get sick and injured just like people?

Trees can contract diseases or suffer injuries much as people do.

Without proper care, these diseases and injuries can impact the life, longevity, and appearance of the tree itself.

The most common issues you may see in trees include:

bulletPest infestations

bulletFungal infections

bulletBacterial infections

bulletNatural and human-caused damage

bulletChemical and weather burns

bulletSoil problems

6. Who should I hire to work on my trees?

Finding the right tree surgeon can take some work.

Too often, workers will simply purchase the correct equipment and call themselves surgeons.

However, simply being in the industry doesn’t make you qualified to preserve trees.

In fact, these “tree surgeons” will often just cut off whatever damaged or diseased section that the property owner tells them to and call it a day.

Instead, you should find a tree surgeon who works side-by-side with a qualified arborist.

The certified arborist will be able to make those tough calls and enlist the tree surgeon to act when it’s necessary.

Additionally, we recommend that you request the curriculum, training, and experience of the professional you hire.

Ask for references to find out if they have done similar work to what you need.

Look through the curriculum and see if the surgeon belongs to a professional organization as this demonstrates the willingness on their part to stay updated and perform quality interventions on trees.

Then, ask for a written quote that describes in detail the work that will be performed.

A low offer may be indicative of a lack of quality in the work.

Take time to compare quotes from different tree care companies, check liability insurance, request a copy of the insurance policy, and verify that employees are properly insured.

Finally, if the technique requires tree climbing, then make sure that the tree surgeon is qualified for climbing work.

7. What are working conditions like?

Tree surgeons work outside in dangerous working conditions.

They must climb trees to extensive heights and use heavy equipment to perform tree care services.

This job is a full-time position at 40 hours per week.

Furthermore, some tree surgeons will work weekends or adjust their weekday schedule depending on weather conditions.

However, sometimes the weather cannot be avoided, and they must work in the rain, snow, extreme heat, etc.

8. What are the benefits of tree surgery?

bulletTree surgery helps keep your trees healthy.

bulletTree surgeons give you good advice and suggestions on how to treat sick trees, which is often done by doing surgery.

bulletSick, damaged, and dying trees decrease the attractiveness of your property, and tree surgery can remove these elements.

9. What’s the difference between a tree surgeon and an arborist?

While the terms “tree surgeon” and “arborist” are often used interchangeably, they are not the same.

Some of the core differences include the qualifications and knowledge that the two hold.

One way to think about it is to equate the arborist to a general doctor and the tree surgeon to a medical surgeon.

The two are similar, but still very different.

bulletTree surgeon

Skilled at safely pruning, felling, and removing trees (including stumps).

Not everyone can do this, and you wouldn’t trust just anyone to perform this type of operation.

Fully trained tree surgeons perform exceptionally difficult tasks.

For example, they may fell a tree, which requires precision and proper training.

Otherwise, numerous things can go wrong, including surrounding trees being brought down by the weight of the target tree crashing into them.

Tree surgeons are focused on bringing down trees in a controlled manner to avoid damage to anything in the surrounding area.


Arborists can accurately identify diseases and symptoms present.

They’re likely to recommend treatment and then pass the patient to a tree surgeon if necessary.

Keep in mind that an arborist won’t just look at one part of the tree, but instead diagnose the entire body so that the right solution is performed.

Arborists are equipped with special knowledge about the actual science of arboriculture, which allows them to work in cultivation, management, and the study of all types of plants.

This includes trees, shrubs, vines, woody plants, etc.

An arborist goes through hours of in-class and apprenticeship training to receive their title.

In fact, the training will consist of 5,340 hours of on-the-job work experience and 660 hours of in-school training.

10. How much does a tree surgeon make?

The average hourly rate for a tree surgeon is $26.

The average salary is $53,516 per year.

The hourly rate and average salary depend tremendously on location as well as the surgeon’s education level and credentials.

Jobs for tree surgeons may grow as much as 11 percent in the next decade.

11. How do you become a tree surgeon?

Are you interested in becoming a tree surgeon yourself?

Follow these five steps below!

bulletPursue an education

Educational requirements for a tree surgeon vary depending on both the company and the location of the job role.

The minimum educational requirement for this role is a high school diploma (or equivalent).

However, many tree surgeons will also have a bachelor’s in environmental science, forestry, arboriculture, etc.

The Tree Care Industry Association also provides continuing education courses and training programs for aspiring tree care professionals.

They offer training modules with information for tree climber specialists, tree care specialists, tree care safety specialists, and chain saw specialists.

These modules provide you with essential information to help perform tree care duties.

bulletGet experience

Being a tree surgeon is a hands-on job, so you’ll need to have a lot of experience with tree care, forestry, machine operations, and horticulture.

After you receive your education, you should apply to get technical experience through an internship or an apprenticeship.

Apprenticeships provide candidates with on-site job experience and courses to study so you can develop your tree surgeon skills and qualifications.

You may also gain experience through volunteer opportunities in environmental conservation or horticulture organizations.

bulletApply to the CTCSP (Certified Tree Care Safety Professional) program

The Tree Care Industry Association provides a certified tree care safety professional program to prepare tree surgeons for all aspects of safety on the job.

They require at least three years of experience in tree care and a safety job role (ex: first responder or trainer) if you’re applying to the program without a degree.

If you’re applying with a two or four-year degree, then you must have experience in the field through an internship or apprenticeship.

Once you’re in the program, you must submit a study guide with answers to critical thinking exercises regarding tree care to attend workshops.

The CTCSP program requires the completion of safety and behavior workshops to gain eligibility to take the certification exam and become a certified tree care safety professional.

bulletObtain credentials from the ISA (International Society of Arboriculture)

The International Society of Arboriculture offers certifications and credentials that tree care professionals can earn to demonstrate their skill and expertise.

bulletSeek additional certifications

There are some additional certifications that you may benefit from, such as CPR and first aid.

While these are not required to become a tree surgeon, they often give candidates a competitive advantage in the field.

12. What are the best tips for becoming a tree surgeon?

Here are some tips that can help you become a tree surgeon.

bulletBuild your physical strength

To perform your duties, you must be physically fit.

You’ll be lifting heavy equipment, climbing trees, and operating heavy machinery at large heights.

Prepare for these physical requirements by creating a strict exercise schedule, incorporating weightlifting into your workout, and eating healthy meals.

bulletBecome familiar with power tools

Tree surgeons must use different types of equipment to cut trees, remove them, and then replant them.

These power tools include axes, chainsaws, stump grinders, and cranes.

Increasing your familiarity with these tools can help improve your knowledge and credibility, which in turn will help you get hired.

bulletIncrease your awareness of health and safety

Tree surgeons face dangerous situations daily when they’re on the job.

If you’re not aware of health and safety protocols, then you can put both yourself and others at risk.

Final Thoughts

Tree surgeons can help you if trees or other plants in your yard are struggling with their health.

If you’ve noticed some sort of bacterial or fungal infection, don’t hesitate to call in a professional.

Their job includes hands-on work like operating heavy machinery, following safety procedures and protocols, and promoting tree conservation by diagnosing your plants and recommending further action to resolve issues.

If you’re passionate about working outdoors, a tree surgeon may be the job for you!

To get started, we recommend looking into the programs above and building your skills in the meantime.

The great thing about working as a tree surgeon is that you only need a high school education to seek further education in the field.

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Erika Gokce Capital

Disclaimer: we are not lawyers, accountants or financial advisors and the information in this article is for informational purposes only. This article is based on our own research and experience and we do our best to keep it accurate and up-to-date, but it may contain errors. Please be sure to consult a legal or financial professional before making any investment decisions.


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