Starting Out as a Tree Surgeon

If you enjoy being outdoors in all weathers, and have a good head for heights, then tree surgery could be a great career path for you. You'll spend your time carrying out rewarding and challenging work, whilst suspended in the air wielding chainsaws and other great pieces of equipment. If the idea of being paid for doing this sounds like a great way to make a living, read on to find out what you need to do to get started.

Licenses and Organisations

Whilst tree removal does not require a trade license in Australia, there a number of strict regulations on what type of tree removal, with certain tree types requiring council permission. This will vary depending on your State and local council, and it is certainly worth doing your research into what can and can't be done in your surrounding area.

The National Arborist Association of Australia, or NAAA, is the main recognised body for tree workers in Australia. They are a great organisation to belong to, forming a brilliant network of jobs and contacts to help get you started, and to answer any questions that you might have going forward.


Whilst you don't need qualifications to carry out this standard of work, you will struggle to find an employer without them. If you are working for yourself, being able to present your qualifications will go a long way towards securing work, and give peace of mind to your customers that you are a professional.

To start out with, you will need a qualification in chainsaws level 1 and 2, as well as a first aid qualification to a level 2 grade or higher. A chainsaw level 1 qualification will cost $400, with the level 2 qualification costing $600, whilst the first aid will cost $110. Whilst these qualifications aren't a requirement, they will form the building blocks for your next major qualification to help you specialise in tree surgery.

The main qualification you will be working towards will be a Certificate II in Horticulture (Arboriculture) training for ground and climbing work. This will cost you $1,500, and will give you all the skills you will need. Covering all aspects of working with trees, it will cover pruning, being able to identify different species as well as diseases that might avail the trees, stump removal and a good working knowledge of weeds and soil properties. It also covers all of the equipment and work styles that you will make use of on a day to day basis. Working at heights, and using machinery whilst wearing a harness is all covered, along with the heavy machinery such as using chippers whilst having both feet on the ground.