Cool Jobs Q&A: Arborist

Physical fitness—and a love of the outdoors—is necessary for arborists


Photograph by Andrew Tolson



  • Arborist, City of Mississauga, Ont.
  • Average yearly income: $45,000-$65,000

How did you get into this field?

My boss asked me if I wanted to try some tree work. I was kind of bored of landscaping.

What education or skills do you have?

I went to Humber College to apprentice in landscaping, then I went back to apprentice in arboriculture. It’s three months in the winter for two years, and the rest of the time you work for a company and they pay you and sponsor you. I wrote my Ontario certified arborist exam. There’s also the International Society of Arboriculture, which certifies you around the world. I have both.

Describe a typical day on the job.

I start at seven. You come in and do machine maintenance, then you get your work orders. At each job you run through all the hazards—hydro lines, bees’ nests, things like that. You’re taking dead branches and broken branches out of the tree, either climbing or using a bucket truck. I’m on the climbing crew so we’re typically in backyards and ravines. We’re always tied in and have a rope on.

What is your most memorable moment?

In general, I really love it when I’m done, and the homeowner is just in awe and is so happy and impressed at how we did the job.

What are the pros and cons?

The pros definitely are that you get to stay fit. You get to work outside all day. It’s really rewarding work. A con would be that it’s hard on your body. It’s physically demanding. To the people getting in I would say try to learn the newer techniques that aren’t as hard on the body.

What advice would you give someone interested in this job?

Try to get hired or get involved with a reputable company. There are a lot of guys out there who don’t train properly, and it’s very money-driven, not safety-driven. And then go to school. You can learn a lot in school that you can apply in the field before you start making mistakes.

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