How to Be a Tree Climber: Jobs, Career, Salary, and Skills

Tree climbing is a dangerous profession that requires special skills, knowledge, and training in order to be successful.

Tree climbers are needed to work in all different sorts of environments: arborists, forestry workers, landscapers, utility pole technicians, and more.

Being a tree climber isn’t for everyone.

You need to know how to balance both on the ground with your feet and up in the air with your hands. 

However, it’s not just about being strong and daring, but also knowing how to properly use certain equipment and understanding the best way to climb different types of trees. 

This article will explore the details and requirements necessary when it comes to answering the question of how to be a tree climber — including job duties, salary, qualifications needed, certifications available, personal protective equipment required, and more.

Table of Contents

What Qualifications Do You Need to be a Tree Climber?

In order to become a tree climber, you’ll need to have specific qualifications and certifications. 

For example, in most states across America, arborists must be licensed as either an ISA-Certified Arborist or NAIP Certified Tree Worker (or both).

These licenses require passing national exams that cover proper climbing techniques and safety procedures for working with different types of trees on rooftops and streets.

However, even if your state doesn’t require licensure there are still certain requirements such as:

  • Basic math and reading comprehension skills for working with maps, blueprints, diagrams, sketches plans, safety checklists, etc.
  • Physical strength/endurance; 
  • Ability to understand written instructions; 
  • Good eyesight with correct vision acuity; 
  • High school diploma or equivalent; 
  • Some college coursework; preferred but not required.

These jobs will also require that you have a license or certification to operate aerial lifts such as bucket trucks, boom trucks, and scissor lifts.

You will also need excellent coordination skills since climbing trees requires precise movements combined with attention to detail so you don’t make any mistakes. 

This job may be a bit tough on your body since you will constantly be working in an elevated position where the only thing keeping you from falling is your harness and ropes (depending on which type of tree climbing techniques are used).

What Career Paths Are Available For Tree Climbers?

There are many different job titles available if you decide that tree climbing might be the right career path for you including an arborist; a forestry worker; a landscaper; a utility pole technician.

However, some positions may not include tree climbing but still require a basic knowledge and understanding of climbing in order to complete the tasks required.

Here is an overview of different career paths that you can explore: 

Arborist: An arborist’s job is to maintain the health of trees and plants. They are responsible for diagnosing problems, implementing solutions, caring for sick or damaged trees/plants, etc. The average salary for an Arborist is $41,000 per year. 

Forestry Workers: Forestry workers work with large groups of people in public spaces like parks and recreation areas to plant and grow new tree saplings as well as maintain healthy forests that provide natural resources (wood products) essential to everyday life. The average salary for forestry workers is $37,550 per year.

Landscaper: Landscapers often rely on climbers who can access hard-to-reach spots by climbing up high without putting any stress onto the branches themselves; this makes it much easier to prune back dead wood or other issues. Tree climbers working as landscapers will also need to know how to properly plant and transplant trees. The average salary for landscapers is generally somewhere in the range of $32,000-$35,000 per year.

Utility Pole Technician: Utility pole technicians (also known as a lineman) work with electric power lines that run throughout cities, towns and villages; they can be responsible for building new electrical towers or replacing old ones by climbing up the poles and fixing any issues. The average salary for utility pole technicians is $40,000 per year.

Job Duties of a Tree Climber

This job requires you to climb trees using different types of ropes and harnesses as well as climbing spurs (also known as “gaffs”) which resemble metal crampons attached to your boots for traction when walking up and down tree trunks/branches. 

You will also be required to carry tools such as saws, chain saws, and pruning shears in order to cut away branches from the trunk so they can fall safely on the ground instead of hanging over streets, cars sidewalks roofs patio decks, swimming pools, etc.

Although this job is typically very physically demanding it does offer many opportunities for career advancement.

Tree climbers can choose to work as lead climbers which are assigned with supervising other workers as well as foreman/superintendents who oversee all aspects of a project from start to finish.

What Is The Job Outlook For Tree Climbers?

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects the need for additional arborist positions over the next decade due in part because urban populations continue growing and more natural land space will be lost which means less room available for trees. 

The median salary for a tree climber is $30,000 – $60,000 depending on the employer and location.

Tree climbers can expect to make between $20/hr – $28/hr depending on their experience and qualifications.

Although this job can be very rewarding it does have its downsides such as being unable to move around freely and spending long periods of time in an elevated position so if you think that may bother you then maybe working as a landscaper would be better suited for your needs. 

Remember, climbing trees isn’t just about having fun it can also be a great career opportunity as well.

This is an excellent career option for those who like heights and enjoy working outdoors in all types of weather conditions.

Did this article help answer your question of how to be a tree climber? If so, let us know how we did.

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