Career Profile: Arborist

Career Profile: Arborist

by Susan Huebert
Jobs People Do | JobsPeopleDo.com

If you look at trees in your yard or a park, you might think that they just grow on their own. However, some people can have careers in looking after trees. Arborists are tree specialists who use their skills to keep trees healthy in cities, towns, and forests.

Working as an arborist involves both labour and research. Arborists gather information about the health of trees, testing the bark and the leaves or needles, and the soil. They take the samples back to a lab to analyze them for disease or anything else that might affect the health of the plants, such as insects in the bark or a lack of nutrients in the soil. If they can, they treat the trees for any health problems they have.

Part of this work is assessing which branches of a tree need to be cut off, a task called pruning. Sometimes the decision is based on what the tree looks like and what shape people want it to be. Sometimes, however, the decision is based on safety or property issues, such as whether a branch is near a power line or hanging over another person’s property. Arborists can assess where to cut branches off to keep the trees looking nice without endangering their future growth.

Checking for possible safety hazards is another part of the job, especially in urban areas. If trees die and rot or are weakened by a storm, they can fall onto people or cars as they go by. Arborists check for potential problems like these to make sure that people are safe near trees. Each kind of tree is different and needs a separate assessment. The age of a tree can also make a difference since trees that are either very old or very young tend to be more fragile than at other stages of their growth.

Since the job involves both indoor and outdoor work, arborists should be prepared for long hours in offices or labs but also for time outside in cold or rainy weather. Arborists can work for governments, universities, and sometimes even for large companies. Although the most intense work is in the warmer months of the year, arborists can also spend the winter doing research or finishing projects that they began earlier in the year. Location can have a large effect on an arborist’s work since an area like Manitoba with long, cold winters will have less outdoor work than a place like the coast of British Columbia.

Required education for arborists varies, depending on the employer. Normally, however, at least a high school education with English and mathematics courses is required. However, many employers are likely to require at least a bachelor’s degree in an area such as horticulture, agriculture, or botany. These degrees are normally at least three years at a university, although similar programs can also be available at community colleges or other schools.

Salaries for trained arborists start at about $48,000 and can rise to $65,000 per year. In some cases, people working with arborists can start at about $15 per hour and earn up to about $36 per hour as they gain experience. Some of the work can be physically difficult or tedious. In some cases, wild animals might also be a danger.

The work of arborists is very important for the health of people, plants, and animals. For people who enjoy working with trees and who like solving problems, the job of an arborist is a good choice.



ALIS. “Arborist: Occupations in Alberta.” https://alis.alberta.ca/occinfo/occupations-in-alberta/occupation-profiles/arborist/.

Eco Canada. “Career Profiles: Arborist.” https://eco.ca/career-profiles/arborist/

Glassdoor. “Arborist Salaries in Canada.” https://www.glassdoor.ca/Salaries/arborist-salary-SRCH_KO0,8.htm

Job Bank. “Arborist in Canada.” https://www.jobbank.gc.ca/marketreport/wages-occupation/22551/ca.

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