This year has been a time of upheaval, in spite of things seemingly returning to normal. According to ONS data from the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, the percentage of people changing occupation is on the rise – and with many workers realising their worth, or deciding its not too late to work in a field they love, it’s not hard to understand why. 

Many pencil-pushers have dreamt of more labour-intensive work; maybe you’ve rekindled a love for gardening, and are wondering how to turn a passion into your career. Tree surgery is one such lucrative career – here’s everything you need to know about becoming a tree surgeon.

What is a Tree Surgeon?

A tree surgeon is a highly skilled worker, who can adeptly and safely prune trees, re-shape them or even remove them completely. Tree surgery often involves working at height, and working confidently with saws, chainsaws and other power tools in order to safely and precisely remove parts of a given tree. 

tree surgeon

Tree surgeons differ from landscape artists and arborists respectively, with regard to the kind of qualification required and the remit of their work. Landscape artists may re-shape gardens, plant trees and tackle hedges; arborists may diagnose and treat disease in flora; tree surgeons “operate” on trees! 

A given day in the life of a tree surgeon might encompass visits to several different sites, with jobs ranging from the paring back of a garden’s border treelines, to the removal of a rotting tree, roots and all, from the centre of a garden space. These jobs can be time-consuming, by virtue of needing to be done right – trees need to be taken apart slowly and methodically, to ensure complete safety as the removal process continues.

Becoming a Tree Surgeon

Tree surgery is a lucrative career, but also an extremely dangerous one – and as such, requires relevant qualifications in order for you to start out as one. 

There are several routes to entry into tree surgery, but almost all of them involve working towards a qualification of some sort, whether you attend a college for a diploma, university for a more involved arboriculture or ecology course, or complete an apprenticeship with a tied-in diploma towards forestry, and private tutelage towards qualifications in chainsaw usage and working at height.

Equipment Used by Tree Surgeons

Tree surgeons must be familiar with a wide range of tools and equipment, in order to tackle jobs of various sizes and difficulties. Every tree surgeon will invariably require a form of rigging equipment, allowing them to attach themselves to the tree they’re tending to and work from there. 

The rigging equipment can be quite complicated to handle, and some prior experience of abseiling and belaying would be helpful in understanding how to safely anchor yourself to the tree. Ladders are required to get you up there in the first place, and having different kinds for different scenarios is crucial to being a versatile tree surgeon.

trimming tree with a chainsaw

The next most important tool would be the chainsaw – the tree surgeon’s primary method of removing material from trees. Petrol chainsaws are common, but advances in technology have led to the regular usage of battery operated electric chainsaws, which can be lighter, longer-lasting and easier to power. Hand saws are also an important part of the arsenal, for smaller and harder-to-reach branches of the tree and for less destructive work, which axes enable safe and calculated tree-felling.

Robert