Tree Arborist vs. Tree Surgeons(What Is Difference)

Last Modified

May 25, 2023 by Hirah Ehsan

Trees are an integral part of our lives, and we rely on them for various reasons. That is why it is essential to have people who understand the proper care and maintenance of trees, like arborists and surgeons.

But what is the difference between these two professionals? As an arborist, I will explore the similarities and differences between a tree arborist and a tree surgeon in this article. I will also look at their roles in caring for trees effectively.

What Is a Tree Arborist?

A tree arborist is a professional who specializes in the care and maintenance of trees. They are trained to identify potential risks to trees, such as disease or pests, and devise a plan to treat them.

Arborists also prune, fertilize, and diagnose diseases to keep trees healthy and safe for people in the surrounding area. They know when to remove a tree due to the danger of falling limbs or pest infestation.

The study has suggested that arborists take care of individual trees and create plans for entire landscapes that include shrubs, vines, and other plants.

Their experience helps them properly place each type of vegetation within the landscape so that they can thrive without overcrowding or competing with each other for water or nutrients.

Ultimately, their expertise ensures that homeowners can have beautiful outdoor spaces without sacrificing the health of their trees.

With their knowledge and skill set, tree arborists play an essential role in maintaining the health of our environment.

What Is A Tree Surgeon?

A tree arborist is a professional trained to care for trees, shrubs, and other plants. They understand the biology of trees and can identify any potential problems with them.

They are also able to prescribe treatments for these problems, as well as give advice on how best to maintain the health of a tree.

Tree surgeons go further than arborists by providing hands-on interventions. They use their knowledge of tree biology to diagnose issues and provide solutions by pruning, reshaping, or even removing trees to ensure safety or improve aesthetics.

The study has shown that Tree surgeons have specialized equipment and tools that allow them to access difficult areas of trees, such as high branches. These professionals also assess trees’ strength and advice on whether a tree should be removed or preserved.

The Role of a Tree Arborist

A tree arborist is a professional who works with trees and other plants, usually focusing on their health, structure, and appearance. They are sometimes referred to as arboriculturists or forest professionals.

Tree arborists have specialized knowledge in the biology of trees and other plants, as well as techniques for planting, pruning, fertilizing, diagnosing diseases and pests of trees, managing forests and landscapes, removing hazardous trees, cabling weak limbs, recommending proper tree care practices to homeowners, and more.

Tree surgeons are professionals who specialize in the removal of diseased or damaged trees. They often use specialized tools such as chainsaws to trim or remove problem branches from trees.

In addition to cutting down entire trees when necessary, they can provide services such as stump grinding and trimming off dead branches.

Tree surgeons must know about different tree species to identify potential issues that may require removal or trimming correctly.

They must also know safety protocols for working with large machinery around trees or other objects.

Tree arborists and tree surgeons provide essential services that help maintain the health of our environment. Both types of professionals ensure that our urban forests remain healthy while providing beauty and shade to our neighborhoods.

Regularly inspecting existing vegetation and helping clearance for new construction projects protect us from potential hazards due to overgrown or deteriorating vegetation.

The Role of a Tree Surgeon

Whereas a tree arborist specializes in the care and maintenance of trees, a tree surgeon’s job focuses more on the complexity of tree surgeries.

Tree surgeons are medically trained professionals who can diagnose and treat diseases, insect infestations, and other ailments that can impact a tree’s health.

They also have specific skills to help reduce risk when hazardous trees must be removed or pruned. The study has shown that Tree surgeons use specialized tools and techniques to ensure safety during and after surgery.

The main goal is to preserve the tree’s health while protecting people and property from harm. Tree surgeons advise how best to care for trees in various situations.

This includes recommending particular types of pruning, fertilization methods, or pest control approaches for different species.

They can also suggest ways to improve soil conditions around the roots of trees to promote healthy growth. Tree surgeons help guide homeowners in making decisions about their trees that will benefit their property and the environment as a whole.

Ultimately, they ensure the long-term well-being of both people and nature alike.

Similarities and Differences between Tree Arborists and Tree Surgeons

Tree arborists and tree surgeons are professionals who specialize in maintaining the health of trees. According to research, both professions are similar in understanding how to prune, diagnose, and treat trees for diseases or pests.

They also understand the correct way to plant and transplant trees.

However, there are some differences between tree arborists and tree surgeons. Arborists tend to focus on preventative care for trees, such as providing care for young or newly planted trees so they may grow healthy and strong.

Tree surgeons often provide corrective measures when a tree is sick or damaged due to disease or storm. Tree surgeons have more specialized skills than arborists and usually have additional climbing, rigging, aerial rescue certifications, etc.

In addition, tree surgeons may be called upon to remove large limbs from hazardous locations or remove a tree if it cannot be saved.

Both professions play an essential role in preserving the health of our urban forests and should be seen as complementary rather than competing with each other. An experienced and certified professional should always be consulted before significant work is done on a tree.

Basic requirements for tree surgeon and tree arborist

RequirementsTree surgeonArborist
EducationTypically, a high school graduation or equivalent is necessary.High school diploma or equivalent is typically required
Training programmes or courses in tree surgery, arboriculture, or similar subjects.Pursuing a degree or diploma in arboriculture, horticulture, forestry, or a related field is advantageous.
SkillsTree climbing skills and the usage of related equipment, such as chainsaws and rigging systems, are required.Knowledge of tree biology, tree care practices, pruning techniques, and pest/disease management.
AbilityCompliance with industry standards and understanding of safety practices.
Ability to assess tree health, identifies tree species, and provides recommendations for tree management.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Qualifications Do I Need To Become A Tree Arborist Or Tree Surgeon?

To become a tree arborist or surgeon, you must have a background in horticulture, arboriculture, forestry, or related fields. You should also be knowledgeable about tree species and health conditions and possess the physical strength and stamina to handle the job.

Certification is usually required; in the United States, this can include an ISA Certified Arborist credential or a Journeyman Tree Pruner designation from the TCIA. Other qualifications may vary depending on the specific job requirements.

What Is The Salary Range For A Tree Arborist Or Tree Surgeon?

The salary range for a tree arborist or surgeon can vary greatly and depend on experience, certifications, and geographic location.

According to, the average annual salary for a tree arborist ranges from $30,000 – $60,000 per year, while a tree surgeon can make an average of $45,000 -$100,000 annually.

Experienced professionals may be able to command higher salaries than those just starting in the field.

Are There Any Safety Precautions that Need To Be Taken When Working As A Tree Arborist Or Tree Surgeon?

Safety is of the utmost importance when working as a tree arborist or tree surgeon. Wearing protective gear such as helmets, gloves, and chainsaw chaps is essential while working with heavy machinery and sharp tools.

Additionally, it is important to be aware of your surroundings and make sure that any power lines are a safe distance away.

If you plan to cut down a tree, ensure that you have established the direction in which the tree will fall and that there are no people or objects in harm’s way.

Are There Any Specialized Tools A Tree Arborist Or Tree Surgeon Needs?

Some specialized tools are necessary when working as a tree arborist or tree surgeon. These include pruners, saws, shears, and pole pruners to help trim branches.

Additionally, an arborist may need climbing gear, such as spikes and ropes, to reach higher areas of the tree. Chainsaws are also crucial for removing large pieces of wood from a tree trunk or branch safely and efficiently.

Tree surgeons may need specialized tools like root cutters to help with underground work.

How Long Does Becoming a Qualified Tree Arborist Or Tree Surgeon Take?

Becoming a qualified tree arborist or tree surgeon takes significant time and dedication. Generally, it takes at least two years of specialized training to become a qualified arborist or tree surgeon.

This includes learning about pruning techniques, tree biology, and safety protocols for working with trees. Additionally, many states require aspiring arborists to pass an exam before becoming certified.

With the proper training and certification, one can become a qualified tree arborist or surgeon.


In conclusion, becoming a tree arborist or tree surgeon requires specific qualifications and specialized tools. It can take a few years to gain the necessary experience and obtain the appropriate qualifications.

The salary range for these professions is quite broad, depending on experience and geographic location.

Lastly, safety precautions must be taken when working with trees, as they can be dangerous.

If you’re willing to do the hard work of gaining the necessary qualifications and staying up-to-date on safety protocols, becoming a tree arborist or surgeon could be a rewarding career path.

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