How to become an Arborist
Do you love plants in general and trees in particular?
Great! Arboriculture might be the job you've been looking for.
A big caveat upfront though; it ain't all fun and games.
Let's go through a quick list of things you should know, before you think of starting on this foolhardy quest.
#1 - It could kill you
You know those videos on Social Media? The ones with a guy holding a chainsaw, perched on a ladder, hacking away at the side of a tree? ... it almost never ends well.
Guess what? If they could have done it themselves, they would have. You're the guy / gal they pay to finish the job right, albeit with a bit more training and fancier (not by much) equipment.
Jokes aside, professional Arboriculture work is a lot safer. The Landscape Industry in Singapore has evolved considerably over the last decade and safety standards are on their way to matching what you'd find in other industries such as Industrial Access.
Still, there's always an element of risk in the day-to-day of your average Tree Worker; sharp tools buzzing away, large tree parts coming down around you.
Having said that, the industry is varied and you can find niches where Work Hazards are not very different from that of your typical office dweller. These positions are usually on the "client" side of things, estate management or consultancy jobs.
#2 - Ethical Challenges
Think you're a big time Certified Arborist, with years of hard experience and know what's best for the tree?
Maybe you do; but your job and your time is really more about convincing the tree owner / property manager that certain things shouldn't be done (No, removing a tree because you have Ant issues is not standard practice).
Helping your clients manage maintenance costs is a role you have to play at times too. "Does the tree really need pruning? Can we do it next year instead? If we prune it, can you remove all the leaves so we don't need any more work in the next five years?".
Fun times indeed.
"This xxxkin sucks." – Tree worker
#3 - Hot, Hotter, Hottest
Walking through the cool of the forest, a little brook trickles in the distance. "Ah! Another glorious day in the Great Outdoors!" ... You must be joking.
We're in Singapore numbnut! We're just north of the equator; and as often as not, you're in the heat and humidity of a tropical jungle, insects everywhere trying to feed on you, sting you away, or worse: lay their eggs somewhere in you.
When the monsoons roar in, your clients still expect work to get done. There will be days where you're lugging heavy equipment up and down muddy slopes. Not what you signed up for? Time to suck it up.
#4 - Money, Money, Money
Go ahead, Google it.
The average Arborist in Singapore makes about $50,000 a year (this is if you're Certified and with a decent amount of experience and with contacts in the industry) It's a decent living, but nothing to shout about.
I'd go into how other professions pay better, pay off faster, and pay more in the long run. But if you've gotten this far into this piece, I'm guessing you might be looking at a little bit more than the moolah.
Still, don't say I didn't share: it sucks when you see your peers driving fancy cars, buying fancy hotel stays for their families... I could go on.
You're still here. So i'm guessing you have your own motivations / emotional traumas to deal with.
For example: I work with trees in part so I can get away from people.
If, after reading the above, you still want in: well drop me an email :)