Our first post - how we train as arborists
Updated: Jul 3, 2018
Welcome to our first blog post! We'll be keeping you updated on our projects, providing tips and sharing what to look for in healthy trees and gardens.
We're often asked while out on jobs how we first got into this industry. You don't hear many kids saying they want to be an arborist when they grow up so how did we get here? Company founder Ben Cortis initially attend the University of the Highlands & Islands to obtain a degree in Adventure Tourism Management. This involved learning complex aspects of rope work so that he could guide clients on all types of terrain from mountains to rivers and beyond. This, combined with the chainsaw tickets he had obtained in his teenage years working as a game keeper, gave him an almighty headstart when he decided to turn his hand to tree surgery.
Not everybody is this lucky and many arborists have to start from scratch, seeking out training courses run by companies such as Treevolution Scotland. Many start out as gardeners or landscapers before progressing with their training and this is a great way of seeing the reality of the job firsthand before committing. Ben and the team have worked hard and trained consistently to achieve qualifications including ground based chainsaw operations, large tree felling, utility arboriculture, assisted felling, tree climbing and aerial rescue, aerial cutting with freefall techniques, aerial tree pruning and much more. These courses typically require a week long training and assessment process, range in cost from £200 to £1000 and if successful, qualify the arborist for approximately 5 years. Once this time has passed, all tickets must be retaken to ensure the arborist can still demonstrate the high level of competence that is required to pass. It can be an expensive process but very worthwhile.
However the qualifications alone do not make for a good tree surgeon. It's the vast knowledge of fungus, pests, tree mechanics and species that really separate individuals in this industry. It's the knowledge built up over time through experience and committed, ongoing personal research. Knowing how to cut is just a small part of the process, the real skill comes in knowing when to take action and what that action, if any, should be. Our priority is always the prosperity of the trees and your property.
Many people are shocked at the high training costs involved. We believe it makes perfect sense given the dangers involved should things go wrong. However it can make starting out as a tree surgeon a difficult process. As well as the cost of your initial training, the equipment required will stretch most budgets at the beginning. For example, basic kit consisting of chainsaw trousers (£175), chainsaw protective boots (£180), helmet (£65), gloves (£30), harness (£250), ropes (£150 each), carabiners (£20 each) comes in at £870! And that's just the bare minimum basic equipment, excluding saws, tools, machinery or the big one...insurance!
All of that said, we consider it a privilege to do this for a living and are thankful even in the wildest of Scottish weather to be spending our working days outdoors in beautiful Perthshire. For anybody considering a move into tree surgery, it's also worth bearing in mind that this job goes far beyond the physical care and dismantling of trees. There is scope for advanced training to move into tree surveying and botanics for those with a real passion for gaining knowledge. The sky really is the limit. But probably best you don't have a fear of heights...
The Arboricultural Association is a great place to start. They offer information on training courses, events, books and apprenticeships