As an apprentice tree surgeon, you will plant and care for trees, hedgerows, and shrubs. The work is done in rural and urban settings and includes all aspects of tree removal, maintenance, planting, and protection, which occasionally necessitates the use of heavy equipment.
You will also be responsible for providing information and advice on specific tree-related issues and safeguarding the trees’ safety, immediate surroundings, and the general public.
Throughout your apprenticeship, you may help:
- identify any hazards caused by trees
- plant trees and assess their health
- climb trees to cut back or remove branches
- cut down and remove trees and stumps
- service equipment like chainsaws
- work with clients to produce tree survey reports.
- Apprentice starting salaries is around £15,000.
- Skilled tree surgeons with a few years’ experience can expect a salary in the region of £22,000 to £30,000.
- Senior tree surgeon consultancy roles can attract salaries of between £25,000 and £40,000.
Hours vary according to the nature of the employer, the contract, location of the job or employer, and whether you’re self-employed, but on average you’ll be working between 41 to 43 hours a week. It’s not uncommon to work evenings and weekends.
You may work in parks and gardens, on the streets, in the forests, or on railroad tracks.
Your workplace might be outdoors in all weather situations, at a height, dusty, and physically demanding.
Wearing protective clothing and using safety equipment may be essential.
Qualifications you can achieve as an apprentice tree surgeon include:
- Level 2 Arborist – Entry requirements for this level include some GCSEs, usually including English and maths, or equivalent, for an intermediate apprenticeship. This qualification will take 24 months to complete.
On a tree surgeon apprenticeship, you’ll learn:
- physical skills like movement and co-ordination
- to be thorough and pay attention to detail
- the ability to work well with others
- the ability to work well with your hands
- knowledge of public safety and security
- the ability to use, repair and maintain machines and tools
- patience and the ability to remain calm in stressful situations
- customer service skills
- to be able to carry out basic tasks on a computer or hand-held device.
Typical employers include:
- commercial tree care companies
- local authority
- conservation organisations
- government departments, particularly the Forestry Commission
- botanic gardens.
Tree surgery is promoted as a professional activity by the International Society of Arboriculture (ISA), based in the United States. Membership offers networking, education, and professional development opportunities, including certification.
Membership in professional organisations such as The Arboricultural Association and the Institute of Chartered Foresters (ICF) provides access to seminars and other opportunities for continued professional development (CPD).
Specialist institutions such as Myerscough College and Lantra provide short training courses for skill development. These include forest management and tree risk assessment.
The National Association of Tree Officers provides tree officers with corporate (available to local authorities in the United Kingdom) and individual membership.
As your career progresses, you will be in charge of additional tasks such as advising on planning applications, supervising tree care work, and managing people.
You might work in management or a specialised field, such as utility arboriculture or community woodlands. Another option is working as a consultant for an existing commercial organisation or forming your own.