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Tree Service Technician: Job Description, Duties and Salary

Sep 18, 2019

Tree service technicians do not require any formal education. Learn about the training, job duties and licensure requirements to see if this is the right career for you.

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Even without a high school diploma or GED, it is possible to enter the field as a tree service technician; on-the-job training is common. State licensure may be required for some job duties. Growth in this industry is expected to be stable throughout 2028.

Essential Information

Tree service technicians handle the removal and maintenance of trees. These professionals often require on-the-job training in place of formal education, and they may seek certification or licensure depending on state requirements.

Required Education No formal education requirements
Other Requirements On-the-job training; licensure may be required for technicians who use chemicals
Projected Job Growth (2018-2028)* 9% for ground maintenance workers
Median Salary (2018)* $38,190 for all tree trimmers and pruners

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Job Description

Tree service technicians are part of the larger field of grounds maintenance. Tree service technicians are responsible for tree trimming and pruning, which may be made necessary by a number of factors. Trees may need to be removed because of disease or environmental factors, such as proximity of power lines or housing units, storm damage, or simple aesthetics. These specialists may also be called in to remove trees that have blocked roadways, sidewalks, or other areas.

Job Duties

Tree service technicians are generally trained on the job, rather than having any formal schooling in tree maintenance. They employ sophisticated methods for scaling trees in order to remove part or all of plants that have been determined to be unnecessary. Using tools such as pruning hooks, wood chippers, stump grinders, hacksaws, and chainsaws, they work carefully, using all technologies available to accomplish their goals in a safe and professional manner. In some instances, tree service technicians may use truck-mounted lifts in order to reach targeted limbs.

Salary Information and Employment Outlook

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS, www.bls.gov), tree trimmers and pruners earned a mean hourly rate of $19.47 in May 2018. Workers employed by the government, electrical companies, and postsecondary institutions earned the most. The BLS predicted that the grounds maintenance industry could grow faster than the average through 2028. The increase in lawn care contributed to this estimated rise in employment. Data from the BLS listed the metropolitan areas of St. Louis, Dallas and Los Angeles among the areas with the highest employment.

Certification

While certification isn't required for tree service technicians, there are several national organizations that offer such certifications. Some of them include the Tree Care Industry Association and the International Society of Arboriculture. These professional organizations may have both initial education requirements and continuing education requirements, and they are part of industry efforts to promote professionalism in an unregulated market.

License Requirements

While tree service technicians don't have licensing requirements, any specialists who will be applying pesticides or other chemicals will need to check local and state regulations to determine requirements. Some states do have specific licensing requirements for those who perform chemical applications. Licensing typically involves taking an examination on the use and disposal of such products.

Individuals can begin working as tree service technicians with no formal postsecondary training. State licensing may be necessary for some duties, and professional certification may be useful.

In May 2018, the BLS reported that tree trimmers and pruners the 90th percentile or higher earned $61,310 or more per year, whereas the bottom 10th percentile earned $24,330 or less per year. Stable job growth is expected through 2028.

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