Professional Tree Trimmer: Salary and Career Facts

Tree trimmers usually need just a high school diploma and on-the-job training. You can read about the characteristics of their job below, along with projected demand and salary for these workers. Schools offering Landscape Design degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What is a Professional Tree Trimmer?

Tree trimmers are generally hired by individuals and companies to maintain and trim trees and large shrubs. They may work on trees that only need to be trimmed for cosmetic purposes, or they may remove trees entirely that are dead, diseased, or in a location that could prove dangerous if they were to fall. Tree trimmers must be knowledgeable about how to recognize various tree diseases, how to stay safe when working on trees, and the most effective way to work with peers. The table below provides some additional information about this career:

Education Required High school diploma
Training Required On-the-job training
Key Skills Physical strength, interpersonal communication, expertise with relevant tools, attention to detail
Certification Voluntary certification is available and sometimes preferred by employers
Projected Job Outlook (2014-2024) 6%*
Median Salary (2015) $33,500*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Are the Job Duties of a Professional Tree Trimmer?

Tree trimmers are sometimes called arborists. Tree trimmers improve the health and appearance of areas with trees and shrubs by trimming, cutting or clearing excess branches and dead vegetation. They may clear roads or sidewalks, make room for equipment or construction or they may be tasked with keeping trees healthy.

Landscaping companies may employ tree trimmers to diagnose and treat diseases that might afflict trees, or to prevent trees from becoming sick in the first place. Planting trees may also be a part of a tree trimmer's duties. Because tree trimming and other landscaping work may not be necessary during colder months, tree trimming is often a seasonal occupation.

What Education Do I Need?

There is no education needed to be a tree trimmer beyond a high school diploma. It is generally an entry-level position and most of the training takes place on the job. However, you might benefit from having taken landscaping or biological science courses. On-the-job training might include safety procedures, equipment operation, maintenance procedures, training in chemicals or tree-specific treatments.

Is This Job Dangerous?

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that workers in this and other landscaping professions have a higher rate of sickness and work-related injuries. Tree trimmers may work near power lines or in hydraulic lifts. They may also be exposed to chemicals and pesticides.

Additionally, tree trimmers use dangerous equipment, such as chain saws, hand saws and power tools. Strenuous physical activity may also lead to injury. For this reason, most employers show preference to physically able applicants and incorporate safety training into the job.

Will I Be Able to Get a Job?

The BLS projected that the employment rate for grounds workers, including tree trimmers, will increase by approximately 6% between 2014 and 2024, which is average for all occupations. The demand for tree trimmers will fluctuate as universities and large corporations invest more money into landscaping.

How Much Will I Make?

As of 2015, tree trimmers made a median annual salary of $33,500. Top earners in this field made annual salaries of $55,700 or more, while the lowest made less than $21,660. The highest-paying industries for this profession were the federal government, local governments, state governments, universities, and the electric power industry.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

You could also seek work in a number of other grounds maintenance professions, like groundskeeping or landscaping, both of which also require only a high school diploma. If you are more interested in working on a farm or a ranch, you could seek employment as an agricultural worker, which would involve working with crops and possibly animals. You may also want to look into a career as a forest conservation worker, which involves maintaining forests and wilderness areas under the guidance of foresters and conservation technicians.

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