How to Become an Arborist in Australia

by | Oct 3, 2023 | Arboriculture Consulting, Arborist Services, Consulting Arborist, Tree Doctor

‍Arboriculture, a specialisation within the broader field of horticulture, offers an exciting career choice. Arborists, often referred to as tree surgeons, hold an essential position in maintaining the health and aesthetics of our urban green spaces. It’s a profession that requires both theoretical knowledge and practical skills. This article will guide you on how to become an Arborist in Australia.

What Does an Arborist Do?

An arborist’s role goes beyond just trimming branches. They are responsible for the care and maintenance of trees, which includes diagnosing and treating tree diseases, undertaking site and hazard assessments, and providing expert advice on tree management.

Arborists perform a wide range of tasks, some of which may include:

  1. Planting trees and considering location, tree species, and required care and maintenance.
  2. Investigating the health and condition of trees and assessing necessary treatment.
  3. Pruning trees by removing or reducing the size of trees using tools like handsaws and chainsaws.
  4. Removing trees that have sustained damage, become too big, or present a risk to people or property.
  5. Providing advice on the use of insecticides and fertilisers.

Arborists may work in various environments, from residential backyards to city parks and nature reserves. Some arborists specialise in specific areas, such as power line clearance. In contrast, others may focus on the conservation of rare tree species.

Why Become an Arborist?

Becoming an arborist offers an opportunity to combine a love for the outdoors with a rewarding career. Arboriculture is a physically demanding but highly satisfying job, with the chance to work in various settings and continually learn about the vast world of trees.

Arborists also play a critical role in urban planning and development, as they assess the impact of construction projects on existing trees and advise on appropriate measures to preserve and protect them.

Prerequisites to Becoming an Arborist in Australia

To start your journey to becoming an arborist in Australia, you need to consider the following prerequisites:

  • Physical Fitness: Arboriculture is a physically demanding job. It requires strength, endurance, and good health. You must be comfortable working at heights and handling heavy equipment.
  • Interest in Trees and Nature: A genuine interest in trees, nature, and the environment is essential for an arborist. You must learn about tree species, their diseases, and their treatment methods.
  • Problem-Solving Skills: Arborists often face challenges such as identifying tree diseases, deciding on the best treatment methods, and figuring out how to safely cut a tree without causing damage.
  • Safety Consciousness: Safety is paramount in arboriculture. Arborists must understand and adhere to safety regulations and procedures to protect themselves and others.

Education and Training for Arborists

To become a certified arborist in Australia, you must complete specific arboriculture or horticulture courses. Completing the AQF (Australian Qualifications Framework) Level 3 Certificate in Arboriculture or Horticulture is the minimum requirement.

These courses cover a range of topics, including:

  • Inspect trees for access and work  
  • Control plant pests, diseases and disorders  
  • Implement a tree maintenance program  
  • Access trees for inspection  
  • Operate and maintain stump grinding machines  
  • Use arborist climbing techniques  
  • Carry out inspection of designated area  
  • Perform a ground-based tree defect evaluation  
  • Use cranes to access and dismantle trees  
  • Operate a mobile chipper/mulcher  
  • Prepare and apply chemicals to control pest, weeds and diseases  
  • Perform EWP controlled descent escape  
  • Perform EWP rescue  
  • Undertake aerial rescue  
  • Transport and store chemicals  
  • Fall trees manually (intermediate)  
  • Perform ground-based rigging  
  • Maintain chainsaws  
  • Install tree support systems  
  • Fall trees manually (advanced)  
  • Conduct a safety audit  
  • Coordinate work site activities  
  • Licence to operate a boom-type elevating work platform (boom length 11 metres or more)  
  • Recognise fauna  
  • Perform pruning operations  
  • Control weeds  
  • Trim and cut felled trees  
  • Maintain wildlife habitat refuges  
  • Work safely at heights  
  • Apply OHS requirements, policies and procedures in the construction industry.  
  • Implement a tree protection program  
  • Working safely near live electrical apparatus as a non-electrical worker  
  • Identify trees  
  • Perform dogging  
  • Control traffic with stop-slow bat  
  • Supervise and audit tree operations  
  • Provide First Aid  
  • Manage trees to create and maintain habitat refuges  
  • Dismantle trees  
  • Verify pruning specifications  
  • Operate a pole saw  
  • Provide cardiopulmonary resuscitation  
  • Apply biosecurity measures

Enrol in a Registered Training Organisation (RTO) certified to provide these qualifications to ensure you receive quality education and training.

Here are the steps to becoming an arborist:

  1. Complete a Certificate III in Arboriculture (AHC30820). This can be done as part of a traineeship.
  2. Gain on-the-job training by working alongside a qualified arborist.
  3. Consider furthering your skills by completing a Diploma of Arboriculture (AHC50520).
  4. Alternatively, complete a degree in horticulture. Although not a prerequisite for becoming an arborist, a degree could help you find work in research positions.

Licensing and Registration

Once you have completed your training, consider applying for a licence from Arboriculture Australia. This licence is recognised across the industry and will increase your employability.

Career Opportunities for Arborists

With a qualification in arboriculture, several career paths are available. These include working for tree care companies, local councils, power companies, and conservation organisations. Some arborists also choose to start their own business, offering tree removal, tree pruning and tree care services to residential and commercial clients.

Furthermore, with additional training and experience, you could progress to become a consulting arborist. Consulting arborists offer expert advice on tree management, often working alongside architects, planners, and engineers on construction and development projects.

Equipment Needed by an Arborist

Arborists need various tools and equipment to perform their job effectively. These can range from essential hand tools like pruning shears and handsaws to more advanced machinery like chainsaws, wood chippers, and stump grinders. Safety equipment, such as helmets, gloves, safety glasses, and harnesses, are also essential.


Becoming a certified arborist in Australia requires dedication. Still, it can be an enriching career for those who love nature and working outdoors. You can enjoy a successful career in this dynamic field with the proper training, qualifications, and a commitment to safety and continuous learning.

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