If you have a love for the outdoors and would prefer an exciting job to a routine one, becoming an arborist may be right for you. This career path often starts with a degree in forestry, botany, or horticulture. Unlike office-based careers, arborist jobs take you outdoors on a daily basis to inspect, treat, and remove trees when needed.
Earning the qualifications to become an arborist, particularly as a specialist, can make you eligible for some of the highest-paying landscaping jobs in the industry. Find a new opportunity within the landscaping industry with one of these five lucrative arborist jobs.
A municipal arborist is hired by a city or town’s maintenance department or parks and recreation department for daily landscaping jobs. Median plantings, trees and landscaping around public buildings, and wooded park areas all require regular maintenance. Municipal arborists also work with city council members and other governmental figures to design fair and safe tree policies for the area.
Most municipal arborists are considered public or government employees, which can result in excellent benefits packages in many states and counties. Arborists employed by local governments tend to enjoy a higher-than-average mean income for their landscaping work at $51,000 a year according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).
While municipal and utility arborists are primarily employees, private and commercial arborists generally run their own businesses. Becoming qualified to diagnose tree diseases and treat them, in addition to just trimming and removing damaged trees, is essential to a lucrative career as a private arborist in the landscaping industry. You’ll also need certification from the International Society of Arboriculture to bid on most public or private contract requests, which can result in far higher pay than simply taking calls from private homeowners.
The BLS lists the mean annual pay for these arborists as $39,400, but when taking private contracts on landscaping work rather than working as an employee, it’s possible to earn much more.
For stable and steady work as an arborist, consider studying to qualify as a utility specialist. Utility companies employ arborists to keep transmission corridors clear, to trim trees away from service lines on customer properties, and to cut up and remove fallen trees that have taken out power lines. When working for a utility company, you may also get calls and questions from their customers about which trees are best to plant to avoid damage to the power lines. Gas and internet companies also hire utility arborists in smaller numbers to prepare work sites for the installation of new lines.
There’s not as much of a need for tree treatment in this job, but you can thrive if you focus on pruning and tree removal instead. Mean pay for this position is around $46,000 a year, but it can vary greatly depending on the local conditions, as some wooded areas are challenging to maintain.
Irrigation specialist is one of the most common landscaping jobs, but this category contains many further specialties within it. Consider focusing on the irrigation of trees grown for pulp, lumber, fruit harvesting, and more to become a tree irrigation specialist serving the landscaping industry. This can complement other arborist services you offer, or it may become your primary focus as a highly paid consultant.
The BLS doesn’t track the specific salary figures for this position, but a general irrigation specialist can earn between $15 and $25 an hour, depending on their particular qualifications. Tree irrigation specialists may be able to earn double that amount when working in areas where tree crops are in high demand.
The decision to preserve or remove a tree is an important one, as it can result in money saved or lost. If you want to take on the task of assessing tree risk and enjoy the rewards of higher pay, you should first become a certified arborist with the International Society of Arboriculture. Then you can take their tree risk assessment qualification (TRAQ) for a special certificate to expand your consultancy options for landscaping work. Even when hired as employees, tree risk assessors tend to enjoy pay rates of $35 per hour or more.
There are many exciting and potentially lucrative job opportunities in the landscaping industry. If you enjoy working outdoors, you can establish a fulfilling career as an arborist.