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Arborist

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Summary of occupation

Arborists manage, maintain and care for trees. They identify particular types of trees, inspect them and prune or plant them according to the tree's condition, and the area in which it is situated. They often deal with hazards such as trees that are within a dangerous proximity to power lines, and also clear damaged or fallen branches and trees after storms. They consult with councils and liaise between local authorities and members of the public about the maintenance or removal of specific trees, and resource management.

ANZSCO description: Maintains and cares for trees and shrubs by lopping limbs and shaping branches, treating trees with fertilisers and insecticides, removing dead or decaying trees, and advising on general tree care.
Alternative names: Arboricultural Technician, Arboriculturalist, Horticultural Tradesperson, Tree Surgeon
Specialisations: Arboricultural Consultant, Municipal Arborist, Utility Arborist
Job prospects: Limited
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Knowledge, skills and attributes

An arborist needs:

  • an interest in arboriculture and horticulture
  • strong practical and logical ability
  • good planning, organisation and communication skills
  • to be comfortable working at heights
  • the ability to work as part of a team
  • a methodical approach to their work.
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Working conditions

Arborists work mostly outdoors in parks, farms and roadsides, and in private yards in most weather conditions. They are occasionally required to cut or remove trees and branches in wet, rainy and stormy conditions, sometimes at heights, and sometimes at night during emergencies. Conditions can be noisy and dangerous.

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Salary details

On average, arborists, classified under gardeners, can expect to earn between $800 and $999 per week ($41 600 and $51 999 per year), depending on the organisation they work for, and their level of experience. As an arborist develops their skills, their earning potential will generally increase.

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Tools and technologies

Arborists drive trucks and excavators to and from work sites. They use chainsaws, handsaws and pruning equipment, as well as ropes and climbing equipment such as throw lines and harnesses to get in and out of large trees. They may also use large machines such as volume wood chippers, stump grinders, and elevated working platforms such as cherry pickers, winches on vehicles or chainsaws on very large jobs. They must always wear safety equipment such as helmets, earmuffs, goggles or visors, gloves and boots, and may also need to use traffic management equipment such as cones and signs.

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Education and training/entrance requirements

To become an arborist, you usually need to complete a traineeship in horticulture (arboriculture). The traineeship usually takes 12 months to complete.  

​You can also complete a certificate in arboriculture. The Certificate III in Arboriculture is offered at TAFE Colleges and other registered training organisations throughout Western Australia. 

Related courses

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Apprenticeships and traineeships

As an apprentice or trainee, you enter into a formal training contract with an employer. You spend most of your time working and learning practical skills on the job and you spend some time undertaking structured training with a registered training provider of your choice. They will assess your skills and when you are competent in all areas, you will be awarded a nationally recognised qualification.

If you are still at school you can access an apprenticeship through your school. You generally start your school based apprenticeship by attending school three days a week, spending one day at a registered training organisation and one day at work. Talk to your school's VET Co-ordinator to start your training now through VET in Schools. If you get a full-time apprenticeship you can apply to leave school before reaching the school leaving age.

If you are no longer at school you can apply for an apprenticeship or traineeship and get paid while you learn and work.

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Recognition of prior learning

If you think you already have some of the skills or competencies, obtained either through non-formal or informal learning, you may be able to gain credit through recognition of prior learning.

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