How can I become an arborist?

There are many career paths that you can take as an arborist.

You might be a climber trimming and removing trees. You might specialize in report writing and cataloguing trees. You may have the desire to run your own tree service company one day.

Most arborists start their career working in the field as part of a ground crew. The climber’s job, working at heights in a tree, can be exciting but the day-to-day business of taking care of trees means lots of hard physical work in all kinds of weather – summer’s heat and winter’s wind.

But, if you like working outdoors with a tight-knit group of people – you have each other’s safety in your hands – then arboriculture may be for you.

Here are a couple of good places to start investigating a career in arboriculture:

How do I know if my ash tree has Emerald Ash Borer?

The following symptoms indicate the possible presence of Emerald Ash Borer (EAB):

  • D-shaped exit holes (approximately 1/8 inch in diameter) on the branches and trunk
  • Wilting and yellowing foliage throughout the tree or on certain branches
  • Jagged holes produced by woodpeckers working to extract larvae
  • Vertically split or cracked bark
  • Canopy thinning and branch dieback occuring initially in the upper third of the tree
  • A large number of new shoots growing on the lower portion of the tree
  • Distinctive serpentine-shaped insect pathways under bark

More details can be found at:

Do I need a permit to remove my tree?

Depending on the size of the tree and which city you live in, you may need a permit before having a tree removed.

Please see our section on permits for more information about each city’s private tree bylaws.

Should tree wounds be dressed or painted to help the wound heal?

Nothing beats nature so it’s best to leave tree wounds untreated.

When a tree branch is removed, the tree has its own natural method of taking care of its wound.

Unlike humans, trees don’t heal themselves. Instead, they isolate the damage from the rest of the tree by forming callus around the wound. This gives way to woundwood which eventually closes over the wound. Woundwood contains lignin, a natural polymer, which helps prevent absorption of water thereby preventing decay and it also creates a barrier against insects and fungi.

The idea of dressing tree wounds has been around since the middle of the 17th century but modern research has shown that the practice is ineffective and that humans should leave it to nature to take care of tree wounds:


My tree is getting too tall. Is it okay to remove the top of the tree?

Removing the top of a tree or “topping” a tree is one of the most harmful pruning practices. Topping removes a significant portion of the crown of a tree which temporarily starves the tree and puts it under stress.

To compensate for the loss of its top, a tree will put out a new crop of branches and leaves as soon as possible in order for sufficient photosynthesis to take place to nurture the tree. Typically the new shoots, which will eventually mature into branches, have weak attachment points that make them structurally unsound and more susceptible to breaking than the natural top of a tree.

While topping a tree might seem like a great idea for limiting a tree’s height or to improve a view, those “advantages” are greatly outweighed by the safety risk of poorly attached branches breaking and falling.

More information on this topic can be found at: http://cru.cahe.wsu.edu/CEPublications/FS061E/FS061E.pdf