How To Become A Tree Surveyor

How To Become A Tree Surveyor

Whether you are looking to advance your career in arboriculture or you’re just starting, you might have come across ‘tree surveyor’ or ‘arboricultural surveyor’ roles. But what exactly does a tree surveyor do and what qualifications do these roles require? Here at Arbjobs, we know a thing or two about working in tree care. We are one of the largest job boards dedicated to arboriculture in the world. 

In this blog, we are looking at the options and qualifications needed to become a tree surveyor. This advice will also apply to related roles, such as arboricultural surveyors, inspectors and tree officers, all of which are different roles with a degree of overlap in terms of knowledge and experience.

A tree surveyor may already have a background as an arborist and will be able to identify and log species of trees. They will also be able to assess any work required to maintain a tree in a safe condition. This is usually based on the target area and the use of complex mapping systems and software.

Tree surveyors need: 

  • Formal training in arboriculture to level 3 or above 
  • An interest in nature preservation 
  • To be trained to carry out tree surveys and use relevant software (such as Mapscape or other tools)
  • To be able to perceive hazards and risks
  • To be physically fit for climbing and rescue certified (desirable but not essential)
  • The ability to use a chainsaw (preferred but not essential) 

We’ll go into each of these requirements in more detail below. But first, let’s cover the basics. ‘What is a tree surveyor’? 

What is a Tree Surveyor? The Basics 

A tree surveyor (or arboricultural surveyor) is a tree worker skilled in assessing and recording the condition and location of trees for planning, building, safety and preservation purposes, among others. While much of the job is assessing trees when planning permission is proposed, it also involves conserving and maintaining the trees. 

Tree surveyors are experienced enough to identify species of trees, assess their health and condition, and how they may interact with or affect nearby existing or proposed structures or other trees. They use complex mapping systems and software to assess and record the work required to maintain the trees themselves. 

Tree surveyors can carry out risk assessments and know the critical conditions that affect the tree’s health and what interventions may be required. They use this information to create clear reports for clients, and other tree workers. 

Around 3 billion trees populate the UK, which need caring for. Tree surveyors are essential in the maintenance and care of the tree population in the UK and worldwide. The job is surprisingly well paid too. Our research found that the average pay for a technical arborist has risen recently, but is it rising with inflation? 

What Qualifications Do You Need as a Tree Surveyor? 

A tree surveyor is a qualified tree worker, who may already have a background as an arborist and is formally qualified in arboriculture - usually to level 3 or above. Read more about becoming a qualified arborist on our blog. Qualifications may be obtained through a relevant college or university course, or an apprenticeship or training course by a recognised body. 

Some examples of relevant qualifications include:

To achieve these qualifications, you’ll need good foundational qualifications to be accepted into most college courses. You typically need: 

  • 5 GCSEs with grades 9-4 (A*-C) for both level 3 and level 4 courses 
  • 5 (including Maths and English) GCSEs for an apprenticeship

Experience may be required for higher entry-level jobs through volunteering with organisations such as: 

What Skills Do Tree Surveyors Need

There are some essential skills that you will need to become a qualified tree surveyor. These include: 

  • Strong arboricultural knowledge
  • A working knowledge of the planning system in relation to trees
  • The ability to identify pests, diseases and biomechanical issues in trees
  • A broader understanding of basic ecology and environmental matters
  • Administrative skills
  • The ability to work with relevant mapping and surveying software, and good digital literacy
  • The ability to deliver detailed arboriculture reports within a strict time frame
  • Good communication skills - both written and verbal
  • Climbing skills and certification (preferred)
  • Rescue certification (preferred)
  • Chainsaw skills and certification (preferred)

What is the Average Salary for a Tree Surveyor? 

The salary of a tree surveyor depends on qualifications, experience, location and self-employment status. The average UK salary for a tree surveyor, according to figures on Arbjobs, is between £25,000 and £35,000 per annum, based on experience and qualifications. According to our own salaries data, in 2023 Inspector and Surveyor salaries averaged at £32,246.

Career Paths And Progression 

Gaining qualifications and experience as a tree surveyor opens up a range of opportunities for further progressional development.

A tree surveyor may choose to specialise and gain further experience in a specific area of surveyance - e.g. utility, highway maintenance, working with a local authority, etc.

Tree surveyors may also use their wealth of experience and choose to obtain further education (level 5 and level 6 qualifications) to move towards consultancy and management roles such as:

  • Arboricultural Officers 
  • Arboricultural Consultants
  • Contract Managers
  • Environmental Advisors
  • Teaching and Research roles. 

Becoming A Tree Surveyor With Arbjobs 

Becoming a tree surveyor is an exciting and rewarding way to progress your career in tree care. Arbjobs has decades of experience helping arboricultural specialists find suitable roles. Browse the latest tree surveyor, officer, and consultant jobs to understand employers’ requirements for these positions. 

Sign up for a Jobseeker account today to start applying, get notified when new positions become available, and manage your applications in one place. Signing up for a Jobseekers Account takes 5 minutes and is completely FREE! Get started with your tree survey career with Arbjobs.