Arborists play an important role in caring for and maintaining trees in urban and rural settings throughout Australia. If you enjoy working outdoors, are interested in plant life and nature and want to build a career around preserving our environment, arboriculture could be the perfect fit for you.
But, the question is, what’s the pay like? Is pursuing a career in arboriculture going to be worth your while? If so, how do you become a qualified arborist in Australia? Let’s find out!
How much do arborists get paid in Australia?
The first and most important question you are itching to know the answer to is likely: “What’s the money like?” After all, there’s no good pursuing a career in something if you aren’t going to earn enough money to enjoy a stable quality of life. Here’s a closer look…
- The average annual salary of an arborist in Australia can range anywhere from $50,000-$85,000.
- An hourly rate of $25-$35 per hour based on experience.
- Overtime and weekend rates can increase hourly pay substantially – especially during the summer months when arborists are in high demand.
- Many arborists are self-employed contractors who set their own rates, so if you are interested in starting your own business or going solo, your earnings can be significantly higher than if you were to work for someone else.
- More specialized skills, qualifications, and experience result in higher pay – especially when arborists focus on a specific niche area of expertise.
- Apprentice arborists usually start around $15-$20 per hour. If you are fortunate enough to be training on the job with a reputable company like A B Trees, this is a great starting point.
- Voluntary overtime and emergency callouts also boost overall pay.
- Major cities like Sydney tend to pay arborists better than regional areas.
So, in summary, arborists are well-compensated for their mix of technical skills, physical work, and capability of managing teams and machinery. Experienced, certified arborists can earn a very competitive salary which means that the longer you stay in the game and the more work you put into advancing your career, the better your earnings will invariably become.
How do I become an arborist in Australia?
Now onto the next burning question: “How does one become an arborist in Australia?” If you like what you read so far and would like to explore your options / next steps, here’s what you need to know to get started:
- You must finish secondary school as a minimum requirement.
- Following that you need to complete a Certificate III in Arboriculture as an entry-level qualification.
- You can consider a university degree in environmental science for advancement in your career and to bolster your potential earnings.
- You can also apply for an apprenticeship under a qualified arborist mentor to get your foot in the proverbial door.
- On-the-job training will take approximately 1-2 years before you will be considered a practising arborist.
- Then you must build your experience across multiple tasks, including tree pruning, surgery, removals, and stump grinding, etc.
- You may also wish to study for advanced qualifications like Diploma or Certificate IV in Arboriculture.
- Consider specialising in certain areas such as large tree dismantling, consulting, or research.
- You can even pursue additional licenses to use machinery, handle chemicals, run an arboriculture business of your own, etc.
- You must maintain first aid training and have the appropriate certification for operating heavy machinery such as chainsaws and elevated work platforms.
- Finally, you can advance from apprentice to certified arborist once qualified.
Patience and dedication are required to pursue a career in arboriculture in Australia, but the career rewards make the investment very worthwhile!
Is being an arborist a difficult job? Is it dangerous?
Before you make any commitments (i.e., don’t quit your job just yet), let’s look at how difficult the job role is likely to be:
- Being an arborist is physically demanding, especially when working at height and with heavy tools.
- The job requires extensive knowledge of tree biology, species identification, and horticulture (to name a few).
- You will be required to operate specialised equipment such as cranes, chippers, stump grinders, chainsaws, and elevated work platforms.
- Take extra care while using loading ramps to transport your heavy machinery from one job to the next.
- Weather conditions like storms and heat waves can make work challenging – especially when you are on a tight schedule and need to meet high demands.
- There is always the risk of injury from chainsaws, wood chip falls, and heavy branches – which is why you must undertake a rigorous recruitment, training, and health & safety process (with regular “top up” training in the future).
- You may be subject to isolation when working alone at remote sites – though this is uncommon as most jobs will require at least two people to be on the safe side.
- You can also expect to work irregular hours when responding to emergencies and storm damage.
- Sometimes you can be subject to public scrutiny and decision-making around tree removal. That being said, provided the tree species is not on the protected list and you are working on someone’s private property, you shouldn’t encounter any issues.
- If you decide to go it alone, running a business brings financial risks and pressure. This is something to consider before taking the plunge. Often, training on the job for another firm is recommended so you can ensure that you are 100% committed to the industry before starting your own arboriculture business.
In conclusion, there are a number of risks that come with being an arborist, however, provided you take your training seriously and commit yourself to being the very best, you shouldn’t encounter any problems!
While demanding, arborists find the work deeply rewarding and take pride in caring for our natural environment.
With proper training, safe work practices, and the right protective gear, you can significantly minimise the number of risks on the job. And the bonus, of course, is enjoying a sense of purpose while working among nature’s majesty every single day – and getting paid handsomely for it!
We hope that you’ve found this article helpful and wish you the best of luck should you decide to pursue arboriculture as a career in Australia.