Tree Surgeon Apprenticeships: How To Start A Career In Arboriculture

Becoming a tree surgeon can be a life-changing step. Climbing trees can be difficult and dangerous work that requires a person who is responsible for not only themselves but those around them, too. To be able to take on this rewarding career, many people study for the role through a tree surgery apprenticeship. So what is the route for a prospective tree surgeon looking to take on an apprenticeship? 

To start, there are many different colleges and tree surgery firms that offer apprenticeships for tree surgery. Typically, you will need 2 GCSEs, including English and Maths, or the equivalent to be accepted. These courses are around 24 months in length, and average around £15,000 per annum in pay. 

Let’s review tree surgery and arborist apprenticeships in full, to see how you can choose the best entry-level for you into one of the world's most rewarding jobs. 

Tree Surgery and Arborist Apprenticeships 

In this blog, we are going to offer a detailed view of tree surgeon and arborist apprenticeships, which will include:

Here, we will provide detailed information about everything you will need to know about getting started. But first… 

What is an Apprentice Tree Surgeon?

An apprentice tree surgeon is someone who is in the process of learning the skills and techniques of tree surgery under the guidance of an experienced tree surgeon.

As an apprentice, you will work alongside an experienced tree surgeon and assist with various tasks, such as:

  • preparing equipment,
  • identifying trees that require maintenance or removal,
  • carrying out pruning,
  • small-scale felling.

Over time, the apprentice would learn the necessary skills and techniques to become a fully qualified tree surgeon themselves.

Apprentices are paid for this role and receive qualifications as they work. Upon completion of their apprenticeship, the apprentice can decide which area of arboriculture they would want to work in. 

Apprenticeships are a great way to earn and learn at the same time, as the government subsidises the cost of the courses needed to complete the apprenticeship. This means that apprentices are in demand by both employers and people looking to gain skills, earn money, and work in a rewarding field. 

How to Become an Apprentice Tree Surgeon

There are a few ways in which you can become a tree surgeon. Either by

  • an apprenticeship,
  • a college course,
  • a university course,
  • or working towards this role.

An apprenticeship is often offered through a college or equivalent and it is partially subsidised by the government. Due to the government's involvement, an apprenticeship usually requires some formal classroom-based learning to run alongside just working outside and getting to grips with the physical aspect of the job. These classes may take place in a college or classroom and can last between as little as 6 months to 2 years on average. 

For more information on the many other ways in which you can become a tree surgeon, why not read our blog How to Become a Tree Surgeon: A Comprehensive Guide?

How are Apprentice Tree Surgeons Tested?

As your apprenticeship comes to a close, you will be required to complete an assessment. Much like the difference in syllabuses between schools, an apprenticeship will often take on different courses, depending on the college or firm that you have your apprenticeship with.

Typically, however, an apprentice tree surgeon will be assessed on the following  (which will be provided to you as part of your apprenticeship):

Upon completion of your practical and theoretical assessments, you will be a qualified tree surgeon with either a Pass or Distinction grade. You will also be awarded a certificate, which you should apply to be recognised by the ISA.

What Skills You’ll Need to Be an Apprentice Tree Surgeon

To be a tree surgeon you will need a combination of technical, physical and day-to-day interpersonal skills. Some essential skills required to be a tree surgeon include:

  • Physical fitness: Tree surgery is a physically demanding job. You need to be fit and strong to climb trees, carry heavy equipment and perform manual labour.
  • Climbing skills: You will need to climb trees using ropes, harnesses, and other specialised equipment to access the tree canopy for pruning, trimming or removal.
  • Attention to detail: A keen eye for detail is necessary to assess the health of trees, identify potential hazards and determine the best approach to tree care.
  • Problem-solving skills: The ability to think on your feet and solve problems quickly is vital in this field, as you may encounter unexpected situations while working on trees.
  • Safety consciousness: Safety is paramount in tree surgery, and you need to be aware of potential hazards and follow safety protocols to protect yourself, your colleagues and the public.
  • Able to work at height: Anyone looking to become a tree surgeon must be comfortable with working at height. 

What is the Average Pay for an Apprentice Tree Surgeon?

The average pay for an apprentice tree surgeon is dependent on a number of factors, however, we find that it ranges from a minimum wage of £16,000 up to £25,000 a year. Consider this guide, the prices for which are true of April 2023.

Age - Pay per hour (Minimum)

  • 16-18 - £5.28
  • 19+ (in your first year) - £5.28
  • 19 (after your first year) - £7.49 
  • 21+ (after your first year) - £10.18 

These wages are subject to constant change. Check here for updates. 

Whilst the fee for apprentices is lower than that of a fully qualified member of the firm, you have to take the cost of training a new employee into account. 

When a tree firm hires a new member of the team, they are putting aside time every day to contribute towards learning and development. Once you are fully trained, many firms may offer you a pay rise. This is, of course, dependent on the learning speed and role of each applicant, and it also varies from firm to firm. 

Where Can I Apply To Become A Tree Surgeon Apprentice? 

Apprenticeships can be found either through a college or through the tree surgery firms themselves. 

Through Tree Surgery Firms

Arbjobs, an industry leader in tree surgery and arboriculture jobs, gives firms the ability to find apprentices to enrol with them and a neighbouring educational institution such as a college or an equivalent.

View Arbjobs Apprentice Positions

Arbjobs has one of the largest tree surgery apprenticeship application boards in the world. This tool is updated daily and can offer you live updates on which firms are actively looking for prospective apprentices in the UK, the US, Australia, Canada, New Zealand and Ireland. 

Through Colleges

The following colleges offer apprenticeships in arboriculture: 

East of England

East Midlands


North East

North West

South East

South West

West Midlands

Yorkshire and Humber

Northern Ireland



What Roles Can an Apprentice Tree Surgeon Advance Into? 

Once qualified, there are many different fields that you can get into around arboriculture. These include:

Of course, you could also find a role as a groundsman, team leader, or even as a trainer yourself. The world of arboriculture is vast and each role requires specialist skills. 

Let Arbjobs Help You Find An Apprenticeship

If you are looking at taking on an apprenticeship in the field of arboriculture, then you’re in the right place. Arbjobs has hundreds of jobs listed on our site at any one time, and it is an invaluable resource for anyone wanting to find a role in arboriculture or who is looking for new opportunities.

Signing up only takes 2 minutes, and it can give you access to over 3,500 tree surgery firms globally. From there, you can filter through locations and find an apprenticeship perfectly suited to you, or set up job alerts to be notified of future opportunities. Arbjobs will always be free, so why not sign up today?

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