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Tree surgeon

Alternative titles for this job include Tree climber, arborist

Tree surgeons work in towns and the countryside, assessing tree health, removing branches, planting new stock and felling unsafe trees.

Average salary (a year)

£21,000 Starter


£34,000 Experienced

Typical hours (a week)

41 to 43 a week

You could work

weekends at short notice

How to become

Explore the different ways to get into this role.

How to become a tree surgeon

You can get into this job through:

  • a university course
  • a college course
  • an apprenticeship
  • working towards this role


You can study for a foundation degree, higher national diploma or degree in:

  • forestry
  • arboriculture
  • countryside management
  • forest management
  • woodland ecology and conservation

Entry requirements

You'll usually need:

  • 1 or 2 A levels, or equivalent, for a foundation degree or higher national diploma
  • 2 to 3 A levels, or equivalent, for a degree

More Information


You could do a college course to get some of the skills and knowledge you need as a tree surgeon.

Relevant subjects include:

  • Level 2 Certificate in Arboriculture
  • Level 3 Diploma in Forestry and Arboriculture
  • T Level in Agriculture, Land Management and Production

Entry requirements

You'll usually need:

  • 2 or more GCSEs at grades 9 to 3 (A* to D), or equivalent, for a level 2 course
  • 4 or 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C), or equivalent, for a level 3 course
  • 4 or 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C), or equivalent, including English and maths for a T level

More Information


You could begin your career by doing an apprenticeship.

For example:

  • Arborist Level 2 Intermediate Apprenticeship
  • Forest Craftsperson Level 3 Advanced Apprenticeship

These usually take a minimum of 2 years to complete.

Entry requirements

You'll usually need:

  • some GCSEs, usually including English and maths, or equivalent, for an intermediate apprenticeship
  • 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C), or equivalent, including English and maths, for an advanced apprenticeship

More Information


You may be able to start as a forest labourer or groundworker, helping a qualified tree surgeon. You could then complete further training on the job in the use of chainsaws, ropes, ladders and harnesses.

These types of courses are offered by private training providers and further education colleges.


You might find it useful to get some experience of tree work before applying for jobs.

You can contact organisations like The Tree Council, Forestry England and the Woodland Trust about volunteering opportunities.

More Information

Professional and industry bodies

You can join the The Arboricultural Association for professional recognition, training opportunities and to make industry contacts.

Further information

You can find more details about working with trees through The Arboricultural Association and the Royal Forestry Society.

What it takes

Find out what skills you’ll use in this role.

What it takes

Skills and knowledge

You'll need:

  • physical skills like movement and co-ordination
  • to be thorough and pay attention to detail
  • the ability to work well with others
  • concentration skills
  • 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
  • to be able to carry out basic tasks on a computer or hand-held device

Restrictions and Requirements

You'll need to:

You may need a driving licence and access to a vehicle to travel to jobs.

What you’ll do

Discover the day to day tasks you’ll do in this role.

What you'll do

Day-to-day tasks

As a tree surgeon, you'll:

  • identify hazards caused by trees
  • climb trees to cut back or remove branches
  • cut down and remove trees and stumps
  • plant trees and assess their health
  • work with clients to produce tree survey reports

Working environment

You could work in parks and gardens, on the streets, in woodland or on rail tracks.

Your working environment may be outdoors in all weathers, at height, dusty and physically demanding.

You may need to wear safety clothing and use safety equipment.

Career path and progression

Look at progression in this role and similar opportunities.

Career path and progression

With experience you could:

  • become a supervisor or manager
  • train to be an arboricultural officer
  • start your own business
  • move into recreational tree climbing and take people into treetops as an outdoor activity

Current opportunities

Find apprenticeships, courses and jobs available near you.

Current opportunities

Apprenticeships In England

Arborist Apprenticeship Level 2

  • Wage: £14,500.00 Annually
  • Location: Radnor Road, Scorrier, Redruth

Arborist apprenticeship

  • Wage: £15,600.00 Annually

Courses In England

Arboriculture (Tree Surgery) and Forestry Intermediate Diploma (Level 2)

  • Start date: 02 September 2024
  • Location: Enfield

Arboriculture (Tree Management) Level 4 Diploma

  • Start date: 11 September 2024
  • Location: Guildford

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