Arborist Career Information

Arborists are also known as "tree doctors." That's a fair description of some of their work, but very lacking in describing most of the rest of this often demanding job.

The Work Environment

Arborists are experts in tree care. They're really botanists, specializing in trees. Their work includes several major industries and sectors:

  • Forestry
  • Environmental studies
  • Logging
  • Government conservation policies
  • Local studies
  • Parks and gardens

Their work is practically universal, in terms of ecological studies. Just about every group of trees you've ever seen in your home town has been studied by an arborist, at least once.

On the commercial level, arborists are the primary defenders of trees against disease, pollution, land degradation, and other serious issues within any community.

The Work

An arborist may have to conduct extensive research into issues related to trees in any area, based on the issues concerning the interest group, agency, or corporation involved:

Forestry: Non commercial forestry may include old growth forests, land reclamation and other major projects. A common issue in forestry is plant diseases, particularly introduced diseases. The arborist may have to identify a new disease, as well as establish its spread and try to find countermeasures.

Environmental studies: As well as diseases, declines in forest populations, encroachment of invasive species of trees, and detailed analyses of issues are often required by government and local timber industries. This role is the more purely botanical area of the arborist's work, but also involves the various specialties of an arborist in field studies.

Logging: Commercially grown forests are also highly susceptible to disease and insect damage. These forests tend to be monocultures, so if an infection or insect attacks, the entire forest is at risk. Arborists and entomologists often have to spend weeks in field studies to establish the nature of the threat, its extent, and produce effective studies.

Government conservation policies: Arborists act as expert references in creation of policies in relation to tree species, diseases and other ecological issues related to trees and their habitats.

Local studies: Aborists are engaged by local governments and sometimes by conservation groups to conduct professional studies of tree populations and related environmental situations. These local studies are often extremely important in historical terms as well as current science, because they may form the only records of tree populations in the area.

Parks and gardens: This is the "tree doctor" work. Arborists may work as commercial contractors or city employees in this area. The work still includes analysis of tree problems, but usually relates to pruning and maintaining the health of trees. This work also includes advising regarding "problem" trees which may be causing damage, or may require special handling for removal.

Wages: Dependent on the nature of the work, qualifications, professional engagements and consultancy rates.

Hours: Based on the nature of the work or studies.

The Career Environment

Arborists have a range of career options, including:

  • Academic research
  • Commercial consultancies
  • Public sector employment
  • Environmental/ecological specializations
  • Non-government organizations
  • Government agencies

Each of these career streams may lead to high-level qualifications and potentials for senior employment and major consultancy contracts. Arborists may also have important training roles in these areas, which can involve development of professional teaching roles.