Tree Surgeon vs. Arborist: What’s the Difference?

Some people believe that a tree surgeon and an arborist are the same people because their work scopes are similar.

It’s important to understand the differences between the two specialists to avoid further confusion and potential property damage.

The Primary Job Duties of a Tree Surgeon vs. Arborist

The tree surgeon is known as the “man of action”. This is often perceived ‘literally’ as a tree surgeon handles the challenging type of job.

These jobs include tree felling, tree stump removal, log splitting, shaping branches and other tasks that can be done using a chainsaw.

Aside from the aforementioned types of jobs, a tree surgeon can also be of help with the following tasks:

  • Clearing operation (fallen and damaged trees) after a storm
  • Creating braces
  • Offer consultation or advice for proper tree care and management.
  • Cutting and shaping the branches

An arborist can do the same activities like a tree surgeon, but their primary concentration is on tree and plant health.

Arborists carefully assess trees/plants, and soil type (clay soil, silty soil, loamy soil, and sandy soil), and accurately identify their condition or disease to determine the best treatment to apply.

The treatment that an arborist can implement varies on the purpose – preservation, delimb and removal. The other tasks that arborists can offer are stated as follows:

  • Planning and preparing the job site carefully to ensure it is safe for workers and homeowners
  • Studying the symptoms shown in a tree and providing recommendations for treatments
  • Installation of necessary screen fences, cages and other protection devices for plants
  • Controlling the insects or diseases of the tree by spraying the right treatment solution
  • Identify whether the tree is deceased or can still be saved/preserved

Certifications Required for Tree Surgeon vs. Arborist

In general, a tree surgeon is not required for formal education. They just need to undergo a series of training and have solid hands-on experience to have a fruitful career.

The training must be completed through a registered training centre or organisation. But the requirement may still change for three reasons:

  • Career advancement

If a tree surgeon wants to advance their career, that’s the only time they will be required to take a formal education either on urban forestry or arboriculture.

  • Company requirement

Companies have their own standards that every tree surgeon must comply with. The minimal requirement they ask for is at least a high school graduate or equivalent.

  • Local council requirement

Just like with private companies, every State also has its own set of standards to comply with. This is important, especially for those who want to work in their own business.

It’s best to obtain assistance from your local government to ensure you have all of the required paperwork and expertise.

On the other hand, for an arborist to successfully pursue a career in Australia, they must have a formal education (degree or equivalent), pass all required examinations, and demonstrate solid years of experience.

For education, an arborist can take certifications in arboriculture, landscape design, or horticulture.

Just like with tree surgeons, the requirement may only change depending on the purpose: career advancement, company, and local council requirements.

The common additional requirements are:

  • The International Society of Arboriculture or another reputable local council association for tree care and management must approve all certifications.
  • Other certifications must be provided such as proof of skills, applying chemical solutions, and working near utility lines.
  • Certification to use hazardous equipment

*Important note: These are also applicable for tree surgeons, except for applying chemical solutions.*

With the duties and certifications lined up, you can easily spot the difference between the two professions – arborist and tree surgeon.

Hopefully, you can now find the right specialist for your tree-related problems. If you’re in need of a tree surgeon or a certified arborist, HIREtrades can help you find a reputable professional in your area.

Featured Photo Courtesy of judemac via Pixabay

HIREtrades is a one-stop online marketplace for connecting consumers and businesses, covering 200+ trades and serving all states across Australia. Visit our dedicated Arborist page or Get A Quote by filling out our quick and easy form. 

Receive up to 3 free quotes

Post a job