How to become a tree surgeon: Daniel's story

Meet Daniel. He's 22 and grew up in Surrey. Find out about his job as the manager of Expertrees, a tree surgery and tree removal company. Part of our Bitesize world of work series.

Daniel in his PPE (personal protective equipment) at work.
"You can't be afraid of getting dirty or wet!"

What does a tree surgeon do?

Tree surgeons look after trees and try to help them to live longer. We lift, fell (cut trees down and take them away) and plant trees. We might work at people's houses, for the council, or on private contracts for other companies.

As a manager, my day-to-day responsibilities involve organising the teams and the yard. I make sure everything runs smoothly, everyone is safe, and I look after the money – costs and budgets.

What skills does a tree surgeon need?

Fitness – you need to be both mentally and physically strong. It’s hard work and a stress on the body.

Good communication and teamwork are also important because it helps you to get more done, and it helps with time management too.

Communication is also important for safety as you need to spot each other up the trees and make sure there's no one beneath you when you drop bits down.

Daniel working up a tree.
Communication skills are really important for safety – especially when you're up a tree!

Do you use any of the skills you learnt in school in your job?

We use maths skills for working out prices and measuring lengths. English and language skills have to be pretty good too because you need to communicate with people and also remember the names of trees in both English and Latin.

Science skills also play a big part in working with trees because you have to know about photosynthesis – how plants make their food to survive.

Top tips

  • Teamwork is really important. If people are on your side and you're working together, you get a lot more done
  • If this is something you want to do, get your foot in the door. If you're able to, ring up your local tree surgeon and see if you can get some work experience. You'll soon figure out whether it's for you or not
  • Be prepared to work unusual hours! Being a tree surgeon isn't a 9-to-5 job.

What to expect if you want to be a tree surgeon

  • Tree surgeon salary: £16,000 to £30,000 per year
  • Tree surgeon working hours: 41 to 43 hours per week, but this can vary depending on the season and weather
  • Typical entry requirements: You can become a tree surgeon through a university course, college course, apprenticeship, or by working towards the role. Relevant university courses include Forestry, Arboriculture, or Forest Management. There are also many college courses available such as Level 2 Certificate in Forestry and Arboriculture or Level 3 Diploma in Work-based Trees and Timber.

It can be useful to get some experience of tree work by volunteering with conservation organisations or horticultural groups. For example, you can contact the National Trust and the Woodland Trust about opportunities.

This information is a guide (source: National Careers Service)

For careers advice in all parts of the UK visit: England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales

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