Tree Surgeon – the Best Job on the Planet

Arborist Melbourne at top of Pine tree

A tree surgeon or arborist as they are known as is an urban tree care professional who is paid to get high and hug trees all day… literally.
Having studied the biology of trees, and their management in an urban environment, this job has grown in popularity (pun intended) since the recognition that trees are essential to the making an urban space more livable.

A day in the life of an arborist

Tree removal

This is the main bread and butter job of an arborist or tree service business. As a tree reaches the end of its safe useful life expectancy SULE and is no longer providing an amenity value for the community (or presents more of a danger than a benefit) the tree is removed and replaced with a sapling. Some people get pretty put out about this, but it is the life cycle of all living things and if you take a longer-term view, it really is beneficial for the environment to replace the tree rather than try to maintain a sick aging tree.

Tree pruning

In some cases, a tree can be saved and not remove completely by only removing a limb or two. If you have weak branch unions or suspected rot, a tree can be maintained by removing the unsafe branches and the tree can go on to see a few more good years yet. Regular tree pruning is also essential for power line clearance, building and roof clearance and just some general formative pruning to keep the tree looking good.

Arborist reports

The local council will sometimes ask for a report from a qualified arborist to ascertain the condition of the tree before they give approval for the tree to be removed. This happens more often than not with builders who would like to get a development application approved for a new home or even just a swimming pool. Sometimes a tree's roots will need to be pruned or the whole tree removed before work can start. Arborists are the ones that give that approval.

Root pruning

If a tree is planted within 3 meters of a building, the roots can block drains over time and damage the foundations of a home or small commercial building. It is essential that this is detected early if you want to save the tree. Pruning can be done and a root barrier installed. If it is left too late the tree will need to be removed to save the home.

Stump removal

The stump is sometimes preferred to be left by some customers as they use it as a seat or as a garden feature. If they require it to be removed, an arborist can use a stump grinding machine to remove the stump with ease.

Benefits of being a tree surgeon

Fit as a fiddle

Arborists spend a lot of the day climbing trees which takes quite a bit of upper body strength. The conventional method is with a rope and harness using the Single Rope Technique (SRT). This essentially means placing a single rope as your high point and connected to your harness for safety, and using your upper body strength to pull yourself up the tree.

And since you will be pruning or removing trees you will be up in a tree with an 8kg chainsaw and when on the ground lugging large logs. It’s not for the faint-hearted.

Outdoor Adventure

Nobody likes being cooped up in an office all day. So if you don’t shy away from a bit of physical labor, maybe spending your days climbing trees on a bright sunny day would be a little more up your ally?

The cool breeze on your neck, the comradery of job site antics with a good bunch of groundsmen… and let’s not forget the smell of 2 strokes in the morning.

Being an outdoor type really is a way of life.

Learning more about trees

An essential part of being an arborist is studying Arboriculture. It's 2 – 3 years of study. The study is not full time, but just 1 - 2 days per week. This is because it is essential to building up your skill base on the job.

Enjoying Flexibility of work

Tree surgeon profession is not a white color job. It is more of field work. The arborists are not restricted to one geographical location. They enjoy the flexibility of the work since they can work anywhere.


Lots of UK based arborist travel to Australia to work. And the Australians are renowned for traveling to Canada to work as a tree doctor, just for a change of scenery.

Saving the whole world is their goal, and it cannot be achieved if there are limitations. To accomplish this, tree surgeons exercise their full mandate anywhere. Apart from the fact that people depend on the tree for survival, trees can cause damage to people if they are left untouched. They have to be taken care of. Trees can overgrow onto power lines causing power blackouts.

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