Approximately 42,440 tree trimmers and pruners are employed in the United States. Landscaping companies and businesses that offer a host of expert tree services are common employers of arborists. Employment opportunities are also available with municipal governments, botanical gardens, and arboretums. For example, an arborist in the Chicago area may want to seek a position with the Chicago Botanic Garden or the Morton Arboretum; both places are known for their lush gardens and wooded trails.
So you've decided to become an arborist—what's the next step? Start by compiling a list of tree care firms in your area. Search the Internet for their Web sites and read about them. Call or e-mail the companies that interest you to find out about job openings and to get an application. Also consider employment with the highway or parks department of your city or county—they often hire crews to maintain their trees.
Many colleges and universities offer post employment opportunities in their career services office. Industry associations and trade magazines are often good sources of job openings.
Don't plan to climb to the top of an American elm your first day on the job. Expect to stay at ground level, at least for a few days. Trainees in this industry start as helpers or ground workers, who load and unload equipment from trucks, gather branches and other debris for disposal, handle ropes, and give assistance to climbers. They also operate the chipper—a machine that cuts large branches into small chips. After some time observing more experienced workers, trainees are allowed to climb smaller trees or the lower limbs of large trees. They are also taught the proper way to operate large machinery and climbing gear. Most companies provide on-the-job training that lasts from one to three months.
Experienced arborists can advance to supervisory positions such as crew manager or department supervisor. Another option is to become a consultant in the field and work for tree care firms, city or town boards, large nurseries, or gardening groups.
Arborists with a strong entrepreneurial nature can choose to open their own business, but aspiring entrepreneurs must make sure that their business skills are up to par. Even the most talented and hard-working arborists won't stand a chance if they can't balance their accounts or market their services properly.
Advancement to other industries related to arboriculture is another possibility. Some arborists choose to work in landscape design, forestry, or other fields of horticulture.
Tips for Entry
Read publications such as Arborist News, Arboriculture & Urban Forestry, and City Trees to learn more about the field.
Visit https://www.urban-forestry.com/jobs for job listings.
Join the Tree Care Industry Association's Business Mentor Network and Peer-to-Peer Networking Group to network and learn more about the industry. Visit https://www.tcia.org for more information.
Attend industry conventions—such as the ISA Annual International Conference and Trade Show and the TCI EXPO—to network and to interview for jobs.