How To Become a Professional Tree Climber in 7 Steps

Updated January 26, 2023

Businesses, municipalities and individuals often seek to employ professionals who can maintain trees on their properties. Professional tree climbing is an occupation that specifically relates to tree care and maintenance. Learning about this profession may help you decide if you're interested in pursuing it as a career. In this article, we discuss the responsibilities of professional tree climbers, explain how to become one and share the average salary for this position.

What is a professional tree climber?

A professional tree climber is a person who ascends and descends trees to perform their essential job duties. Private homeowners, cities and companies may all employ professional tree climbers for various services. Tree climbers may work alone, with an experienced arboriculture professional or within a team of tree climbers. They often work with an aerial lift specialist who assists them as they climb trees and ensures their ropes are secure and supportive.

Related: 13 Careers With Plants

What does a professional tree climber do?

Here is a list of job duties that professional tree climbers often perform:

  • Removing branches: Tree climbers often ascend trees in order to cut branches that may affect the safety of property or people. Cutting branches, or pruning, may also encourage trees to continue healthy growth.

  • Spraying pesticides: Tree climbers also may ascend trees in order to spray pesticides that eliminate insects or other organisms living in the tree. This can help improve a tree's health and prevent harmful organisms from spreading to surrounding trees.

  • Applying disease treatment: Tree climbers may apply treatments for specific types of diseases that affect trees. Powdery mildew, anthracnose and lethal yellowing are all diseases that professional tree climbers may treat.

  • Performing aerial rescues: In some situations, professional tree climbers perform an aerial rescue of another individual. This may involve ascending the same tree, securing safety harnesses or assisting the person they're rescuing with a descent.

Related: Learn About Being a Forester

How to become a professional tree climber

Here's a list of seven steps you may take to become a professional tree climber:

1. Get a high school diploma or GED

A high school diploma or GED provides you with general knowledge in many subjects that may help prepare you for professional tree climbing positions. Consider focusing on subjects like biology, chemistry and physical education to help you gain the skills you need to begin a career as a professional tree climber. High school or GED programs may also help you develop problem-solving, logic and safety skills, which are helpful in this profession.

2. Complete an associate degree

Many professional tree climbers complete associate degrees in arboriculture or a related field. In an arboriculture program, you may learn about various species of trees, care techniques, diseases that affect trees and pesticides. This specialized knowledge can substantially enhance your qualifications for this profession. You can also take courses that focus on biology, forestry or dendrology to better qualify you for professional tree climbing positions.

Related: What Is Forest Management? Definition, Strategies and Benefits

3. Finish aerial rescue training

Aerial rescue training can help aspiring tree climbers prepare to handle dangerous situations safely. These training programs may educate participants on emergency preparedness, aerial rescue techniques and interactions with emergency medical services. Training professionals may ask participants to rehearse many types of aerial rescues to better prepare them for several possible rescue scenarios. For instance, your training might require you to ascend a tree to retrieve an injured person, descend while supporting the weight of another individual and call emergency medical services to request an ambulance.

4. Get CPR and first aid certifications

Employers may ask that you complete CPR and first aid training and earn a certification before you begin working as a professional tree climber. In the case of falls or other injuries, tree climbers may provide themselves and their team members with medical care.

In CPR training, you typically learn how to help resuscitate people who aren't breathing or who don't have a heartbeat. In first aid training, you may learn how to treat cuts, bruises and other small injuries. This training can prepare you for many medical situations that may arise while you're completing essential work duties.

5. Become ISA certified

The International Society of Arborists (ISA) offers a Certified Tree Worker Climber Specialist certification. Many employers request candidates to earn this certification before beginning work as a professional tree climber. To earn this certification, you may need to pass safety examinations and display your ability to perform your essential job duties while on and off the ground. For example, certifiers may ask participants to display their ability to scale a tree safely and remove several branches.

Related: Learn How To Become an Arborist

6. Complete an OSHA certification

Since tree climbers follow precise safety precautions in order to ensure their own safety when climbing trees, completing a certification in occupational safety and health may help them prepare to take such precautions. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) offers a variety of courses that cover topics such as general workplace safety, safety equipment and other safety precautions. Consider contacting your local college or university to learn which OSHA courses are available in your location. You can also ask your target employer which health and safety certifications they expect candidates to earn.

7. Gain related experience

Before working as a professional tree climber, consider getting a position in which you perform tree maintenance or landscaping. In these positions, you may observe ascents and descents before attempting them yourself. You may also develop your knowledge of essential tasks associated with professional tree climbing. For example, you might learn about pesticides and disease treatments for trees, how to identify various diseases and why to prune or trim branches.

Related: How To Get a Job Planting Trees

What is the salary for a professional tree climber?

The average salary for a professional tree climber is $51,853 per year. Some tree climbers may work overtime, adding an average of $7,500 in additional earnings each year. Obtaining certifications, attending training sessions and gaining experience may help you earn more than the average wage for tree climbers.

Please note that none of the companies mentioned in this article are affiliated with Indeed.

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