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How To Become A Tree Surgeon

What Is a Tree Surgeon?

A tree surgeon is a trained professional who specialises in the care and maintenance of

Tree Surgeon removing a tree

trees. They have the knowledge and skills to assess the health of trees, identify any problems, and provide the necessary treatment to restore or maintain their health.

Trees play a huge role in our environment and are crucial in maintaining the ecological balance of the planet as well as providing social and economic benefits. Unfortunately however, trees can also be a threat when they become diseased, damaged or overgrown and that's where a tree surgeon comes in.

Tree surgeons offer a range of services, including pruning, tree removal, stump grinding, and tree inspections.

How to Become a Tree Surgeon

If you have a passion for trees and like working outdoors, becoming a tree surgeon may be the perfect career for you. There are different options for getting into tree surgery however:


One route to becoming a tree surgeon is to get a degree in arboriculture, forestry, or horticulture. These degree programs will cover the science and practice of tree care and you'll learn about tree biology, soil science, pest management, and tree care techniques. You will still need to go on to get hands-on training and certificates of competence to be able to work at height, with machinery or on your own. Most of the routes below allow for this, however a degree in this field can open up a number of career options in related fields such as tree consultancy, should you decide the practical aspect is not for you.


Another option is to attend a college or vocational school that offers a program in tree care. These programs typically offer hands-on training in tree care techniques, safety procedures, and the use of tools and equipment. They may also include coursework in tree biology, soil science, and pest management. A college degree in tree care can prepare you for an entry-level position as a tree surgeon or for further study in the field.


An apprenticeship is a training program where you work under the guidance of an experienced tree surgeon. This allows you to get hands-on experience in tree care and learn the skills and techniques of the trade. Apprenticeships typically last for a few years and may include classroom instruction as well as on-the-job training. This is a great way to gain practical experience and build your skills in tree care.

Work Experience

Another way to become a tree surgeon is to gain work experience in the field. You'll learn the skills and techniques of tree care on the job and gain valuable experience working with different types of trees and in different settings. This is a good option for those who prefer to learn by doing and who want to get started in the field right away, although you will need to get the practical tickets along the way to be able to use a chainsaw and climb the trees.

Just want to get started as quickly as possible?

If you are more interested in the practical route in and want to get going as soon as possible, you will need to gain the necessary City & Guilds NPTC certificates of competence. The minimum requirements most companies tend to look for (if not taking you on as an apprentice) are:

  • NPTC unit 201(formerly CS30) Chainsaw Maintenance and Crosscutting Course

  • NPTC unit 202 (formerly CS31) Felling Small Trees

  • NPTC unit 203 (formerly CS38) Tree Climbing and Aerial Rescue Operations

  • NPTC unit 204 (formerly CS39) Use of Chainsaw from Rope and Harness

You will see a lot of training providers offering fast-track courses and bundles, these tend to have more than necessary to get started. If you have the above, it is likely to be considered sufficient to show any recruiter that you are serious about pursuing tree surgery and further training can then be acquired as you go.

What It Takes to Become a Tree Surgeon

Becoming a tree surgeon requires a combination of skills, knowledge, and experience.

Skills and Knowledge

To become a tree surgeon, you'll need to have a range of skills and knowledge related to tree care. As well as having the certificates, you will need to be able to demonstrate practical skills such as:

  • physical skills and co-ordination are essential as you are moving all day, often lifting and moving heavy items

  • attention to detail - the safety of the team around you can often depend on it

  • ability to work well with others is important as it is always a team effort

  • the ability to use, repair and maintain machines and tools

  • patience and the ability to remain calm in stressful situations

  • customer service skills

Restrictions and Requirements

There are some restrictions and requirements that you'll need to meet in order to become a tree surgeon. These may vary depending on where you live and work, but may include:

  • Age requirements: You may need to be a certain age to work as a tree surgeon. This is typically 18 years old or older.

  • Physical requirements: Tree surgeons need to be in good physical condition, as the work can be physically demanding and may involve climbing trees and working at heights.

  • Certificates of Competence: As outlined above

  • Drivers Licence: Not always a mandatory to start with, but highly desirable and you will need to be working towards obtaining one if you don’t already have one.

  • Insurance:This will be needed if you plan to sub-contract or set up your own business.

What a Tree Surgeon Does

Tree Surgeon Day to Day Tasks

Tree surgeons perform a range of tasks related to tree care, including:

  • Pruning trees to remove dead or diseased branches and promote healthy growth

  • Removing trees that are dead, dangerous, or unwanted

  • Planting new trees to replace those that have been removed

  • Grinding tree stumps to remove them from the ground

  • Assessing the health of trees and identifying any problems

  • Treating trees for pests and diseases

  • Climbing trees to perform tree care tasks safely and efficiently

  • Servicing and maintaining machinery


Tree surgeons have a responsibility to ensure that trees are healthy and safe for people and the environment. They must follow safety procedures to prevent accidents and injuries, and they must ensure that their work does not damage surrounding property or wildlife.

Working Environment

Tree surgeons work outdoors in all types of weather conditions. They may work in urban or rural settings, depending on the location of the trees they are caring for. They may work on private property, in public parks, or along roadsides.

Working Hours

Tree surgeons may work full-time or part-time, depending on their employer and the demand for their services. You will likely work regular business hours as most councils prohibit noise after 1pm on Saturday and not at all on Sundays or Bank Holidays. However, if your employer carries out emergency work it could be at any time of day.

Tree Surgeon Career Path and Progression

Tree surgeons can progress in their careers by gaining experience and building their skills and knowledge. They may become supervisors or managers in tree care companies, or they may start their own tree care business. Some tree surgeons may also pursue further education in a related field, such as forestry or environmental science.

How Much Do Tree Surgeons Earn UK

The salary of a tree surgeon in the UK varies depending on factors such as experience, location, and employer. Entry-level tree surgeons can expect to earn around £18,000 to £20,000 per year. With experience, this can increase to around £25,000 to £30,000 per year. Senior tree surgeons or those who run their own business can earn upwards of £38,000


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