Tree surgeon

tree climber arborist
Animals, land and environment

Career outlook for tree surgeon

Average UK salary


Currently employed in Scotland


"LMI for All" supplies our salary and employment status information. "Oxford Economics" supplies job forecasts and employment figures. Due to COVID-19 the jobs market is constantly changing. Some of the information may not reflect the current situation.

What's it like?

You would keep trees healthy by carrying out work including planting, care and hazard checks.

You would:

  • Assess the health of trees
  • Prune, fell and plant trees in streets or parks
  • Check for potential dangers from trees
  • Control pests
  • Remove snow to take the weight off branches
  • Follow health and safety rules carefully

You will usually work from a rope and harness. You might also use elevated work platforms known as ‘cherry-pickers’.

Working conditions


As a full-time tree surgeon working for an employer, you would usually work Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm. You may need to work some weekends, and you may be called out at unexpected times to deal with emergencies. There are often self-employment and consultancy opportunities available for experienced tree surgeons.


As this is very physical work, you will need to be fit, and you will need to be prepared to work in all weathers. It's also very important to work safely, as you'll be handling power tools and working at heights. Your employer would supply equipment and protective clothing.


Depending on the area you cover, you may need to travel between different sites. Most tree surgeons will have access to their own vehicle for work

UK employment status





Self employed


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Getting in

Entry requirements for courses can change. Always contact the college, university or training provider to check exactly what you'll need.


There are no set qualifications to enter this job but qualifications at SCQF level 4/5 may be of value.

You could start a Modern Apprenticeship and work towards a Scottish Vocational Qualification (SVQ) in Trees and Timber (SCQF Level 5).

You may also study a full-time course in arboriculture, amenity horticulture, forestry or related subjects.

National Certificate or National Qualifications (SCQF levels 4-6) may look for no formal qualification or three to four National 4/5 qualifications

To enter a Higher National Certificate (SCQF level 7) or Higher National Diploma (SCQF level 8) you will need National 4/5 qualifications and one to two Highers or a relevant NC/NQ/.

To enter a degree (SCQF level 9/10) you will require National 5 qualifications and four to five Highers or a relevant HNC/D. 

Useful subjects

  • English
  • Maths
  • Science subjects, in particular biological or environmental sciences
  • Practical technologies such as woodwork

You will also need

  • To have a natural love of nature and the outdoors
  • To enjoy practical and physical work
  • To not have a fear of heights
  • To be physically fit

Helpful to have

Qualifications and experience that demonstrate physical fitness, understanding of health and safety and care of the natural environment

Work-based qualifications such as a Scottish Vocational Qualification in Trees and Timber (SCQF level 5/6) either in forestry or arboriculture can be achieved once in work.

It would be helpful to have a driving licence; some roles may require this.