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Trees are very important to us. They provide us with oxygen, they produce food for humans, animals, and insects, they keep the Earth anchored down with their deep-reaching roots. Arborists are the people who look after our trees. Specially trained in identifying disease and pests, they help keep the trees on our planet healthy and growing.

Arborists work in a variety of capacities, from being employed as government workers to being on staff at landscaping firms, lawn care companies, and botanical gardens and arboretums. Most arborists specialize in one area of tree care. They may care for the trees through careful pruning, by securing large or breaking branches, by diagnosing and treating pest invasions, and by fertilizing trees when necessary. Their work may be focused on tree removal, or tree planing. They also work planning tree-care budgets and calculating tree values for companies and municipalities, and giving public talks on tree health. They may do mostly research for lumber companies, environmental protection associations, or various government agencies.

Arborists work alongside many people in order to install and maintain healthy trees. They are in close contact with urban planners, landscape architects, municipal administrators, habitat protection agencies, lawn care specialists, and horticulturists, to name a few. They often consult these professionals about tree health and the benefits of certain trees in various environments. Therefore, they need to have good communication skills; they need to be able to explain complex scientific information in a way that everyone can understand.

Arborists also need to be in good shape, as the job can call for a lot of dangerous and challenging roles. Often, arborists climb trees, use heavy equipment, and carry large heavy branches. The days can be long, tiring, yet fulfilling because of the knowledge that another tree has been saved from disease.
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Online Learning at Concordia University–Portland

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  Average Earnings  
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Median Salary:
Highest 10% of Earners:

  Interests and Skills  
Arborists typically love nature, trees in particular. These individuals are strong, agile, and undaunted by hard work. They need to be comfortable with heights, power tools, ladders, and ropes. Arborists are analytical, willing to take time to sort out a problem and find the right solution and are comfortable working with a team, and following orders. Good communication skills, a level head, and the ability to work well under pressure are valuable characteristics to work as an arborist.

  Typical Tasks  
  • Prune tree, often from high up among the branches
  • Evaluate trees for disease and pest problems
  • Repair breaking branches by securing cables and braces to large limbs
  • Fertilize trees
  • Calculate the monetary value of trees
  • Plan and develop budgets for tree maintenance for companies
  • Develop and present tree health seminars to school and community groups
  • Depending on their area of expertise, an arborist's day will be divided between time indoors and time outdoors, alternately doing research into tree care and tree illness, as well as inspecting trees, and implementing health care initiatives. This can include tree climbing, branch trimming, and felling diseased trees. The job allows for plenty of hard work outdoors, as well as some administrative duties, and allows for the possibility of community outreach.
  • Arborists work in teams of two or more. They may work regular hours, unless there has been an emergency, like a flood or severe wind storm, when the arborists work long hours. Arborists use dangerous power tools and powerful chemicals. The job entails a lot of lifting, twisting, and climbing.

  Workplaces, Employers and Industries  
  • Arborists are employed by a variety of organizations, including parks departments, tree care service firms, large institutions, landscape management companies, and tree nurseries.

  Long Term Career Potential  
Arborists can always get more training, and become more and more educated in different aspects of tree care and health. They can become supervisors of other arborists, or open their own arborist companies. They may open tree nurseries, gardening shops, or publish articles and write books about tree and woody plant care. They can also go to school and train to work as landscape architects or landscape architectural technicians.

  Educational Paths  
Higher education is not necessarily required to become an arborist, however, some postsecondary schooling is encouraged. Courses in horticulture, arboriculture, plant science, and landscaping are offered at universities, colleges, and through some home study programs. Some of the programs offer co-op courses, combining study with work experience.

Some regions require that arborists pass a certification exam before actively working, and some require special certification to work on trees near power lines. The training program you choose to enroll in will let you know the specific requirements for working as an arborist in your area.

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15 Edition,
Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Employment Statistics, 2002,

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