Becoming a Tree Surgeon – What Does It Entail?

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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.

One such rewarding career path is that of a tree surgeon. In the following paragraphs, I’ll provide you with valuable insights on what it takes to become a successful 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! 

To work like a pro, refer to this guide and know how to cut a hedge with a chainsaw.

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. It’s crucial to take my time with these jobs. I always make sure to dismantle trees slowly and methodically to guarantee safety throughout the removal process.

Becoming a Tree Surgeon

Tree surgery is a rewarding and high-risk profession that demands proper qualifications. Undertaking relevant training and obtaining the necessary certifications is essential to embark on a career in this field.

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. 

Handling the rigging equipment can be a bit intricate. From my experience, having some background in abseiling and belaying has been invaluable in understanding how to safely anchor myself to a tree. Of course, ladders are my initial go-to for elevation, and owning various types for different situations has been key to my versatility as a tree surgeon.

tree surgeon

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.

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Robert Johnson is a passionate furniture maker & carpenter, sought after for his knowledge on the craft.
You’ve probably seen his down-to-earth wisdom in USA Today, Bobvila, Family Handyman, and The Spruce, where he has shared commentary and guidance on various woodworking topics.

Robert is the brain behind Sawinery, where he aims to share tips, tricks, and a passion for all things carpentry.

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