Is a Tree Surgeon and Arborist The Same Thing

Greenby Ariana Smith28 February 2019

Tree Surgeon

Inevitably, you’re going to run into a problem with your trees that you won’t be able to solve yourself. As a tree owner, it’s just part of your responsibility to know who to call when things go beyond your skill set. A tree surgeon and an arborist may sound like pretty much the same thing and while they both care for trees, there is quite a difference between the two jobs. If you get to the point where you don’t know what to do or who to call, here are the main differences to know between a tree surgeon and an arborist.

Education and Training:

One of the main things that differentiate tree surgeons and arborists is the amount of training that the professions require. Tree surgeons technically do not require any formal education, although many do receive training before beginning their career. While there are many skilled tree surgeons in the world, there are also plenty of people who adopt the title with little to no training whatsoever. When you need to hire a tree surgeon, it’s important to only work with one backed up by a reputable company. A well-trained tree surgeon will be able to perform exceptionally complicated tasks professionally and safely.

Arborists require much more formal education compared to tree surgeons. In general, you can be pretty confident that an arborist has received all training that a tree surgeon has opted into and more. Many receive bachelor’s degrees in biology, botany, or other related fields before beginning their careers. Some colleges offer majors for arboriculture, a specialized education for would-be arborists.

Arborists also continue receiving education and training even after earning their degree to stay up to date on new techniques and technologies. If you are working with a professional arborist, you can rest assured that they know their field well.


A tree surgeon does not require any certification in order to offer their services. While anyone can work on a tree with the right equipment, many companies and individuals feel more comfortable with a tree surgeon who can back up their skills and commitment to safety through professional training. Still, some people prefer the tree care professional who can prove they have a more complete understanding of their trade. This is why some tree care companies simply require their employees to earn their certification as an arborist.

Arborists have much more stringent requirements in order to maintain their professional credentials. Primarily, arborists must meet the standards set by the International Society of Arboriculture. The ISA has implemented training and testing that arborists must undergo in order to earn the title of Certified Arborist.

To qualify for the certification, an arborist must first have at least three years of experience working in arboriculture. They must also pass an exam to demonstrate their knowledge in the field. Once they earn the certification, an arborist must continue to receive education in order to maintain it. The ISA also offers more specialized certifications and training programs, allowing an arborist to hone skills and offer more services.

Type of Work Performed:

A tree surgeon can help you when you need any physical work done on a tree. For example, if you need basic maintenance like trimming, pruning, or fertilizing, you can call in a tree surgeon. If you notice dead wood on a tree and need to have it removed, a skilled tree surgeon will be able to cut it away without harming the rest of the tree. Tree surgeons are also able to complete tasks that are simply too dangerous for someone without their experience or skills. In particular, safely felling a tree requires a level of skill and experience that an untrained individual just doesn’t have.

An arborist can offer you many of the same services and skills that a tree surgeon can, but with the added benefit of arboricultural context and knowledge. Their certification and training can offer you a better understanding of your trees and the environment around them, helping you make a more informed decision for your trees.

Where a tree surgeon can remove dead wood from a tree, an arborist can remove the dead wood and tell you why it died in the first place. Arborists are trained to analyze and diagnose problems in trees, helping you address the cause in addition to the symptom. They can also help you plan for any trees you plant in the future.

Ecological systems are complicated and you can’t just plant whatever you like wherever you want and expect everything to work out fine. An arborist will be able to walk you through the conditions around your home, helping you choose trees that will be able to thrive in the environment.

A Difference In Service:     

When it comes down to it, certified arborists can do everything a tree surgeon can do and more. Your trees deserve the best care they can get and if you know you need help an educated professional is the one to turn to.

There are plenty of people who are willing to work on your trees, but not everyone knows what’s right for your trees on the whole. Only a certified arborist has the knowledge, skill, and training to not only take care of your trees now but will ensure they will flourish in the future.

Certified arborists are educated on the most current tree care techniques and developments. So whether you need to care for an existing tree, fell one that needs to go, or plant something new, we’ve got your back.

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Ariana Smith

Ariana Smith is a freelancer content writer and enthusiastic blogger. She is a regular contributor at The Daily Notes.

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